Nike, which has struggled this year to fully address its diversity issues with both women and people of color in its corporate ranks, took a major step forward by reshuffling its marketing team. The Swoosh added and promoted several leaders, most notably naming Adrienne Lofton as VP of marketing for North America.
For al deep dive into the footwear industry’s diversity problems, FN asked Pensole founder D’Wayne Edwards to write an Op-Ed on potential solutions. Part of the issue, he said, is that the industry lacks a legitimate pipeline of candidates. Edwards suggested companies establish job-shadow programs with middle- and high-school students, as well as college-level apprenticeships.
Meanwhile, on the political front, the industry appears to have been caught off-guard by President Trump’s sudden announcement of a 10% tax on an additional $300 billion in Chinese goods. Executives were already on edge, with Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of the American Apparel and Footwear Association, stating a day earlier: “With each passing day, American businesses and American consumers are paying millions in additional taxes on everyday products. We do not see taxing Americans as an appropriate negotiating strategy. Meanwhile, we continue to find ourselves in an uncertain business environment with the looming threat of additional tariffs on $300 billion worth of goods still on the table.”
On Thursday afternoon and well into Friday, the stock market had a negative reaction, with shares of most footwear firms in the red.
Here, FN rounds up five of the week’s most-compelling stories that you need to read.
President Donald trump’s announcement of a 10% tariff on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese goods marked a sudden end to the temporary truce in the yearlong trade war between the world’s two largest economies. The news not only sent Wall Street into a tailspin but also jolted the footwear industry — with executives bemoaning the impact of the levies on manufacturers, retailers and, ultimately, consumers. It came a day after representatives from Washington and Beijing wrapped up a round of negotiations, with another meeting scheduled for September in the U.S. capital.
Talk about coming out of the gate strong. Aldo Group, which recently launched a licensing division, teamed up with two star L.A. fashion producers. In one deal, the company revealed plans to work with style maven Rachel Zoe on women’s and kids’ shoes, handbags and leather goods. In a separate deal, the Canadian company said it will produce ladies’ footwear, handbags and small-leather goods for Who What Wear.
When it comes to e-commerce sales, no country nears China. According to eMarketer, online sales there will hit $1.935 trillion in 2019 — more than triple the projected amount for the U.S. Where exactly are they shopping? Four in five Chinese e-com dollars are spent on mobile devices, with 81% using payment apps, compared with 27% of Americans.
Pensole founder D’Wayne Edwards
Why does footwear have a diversity problem, particularly with African Americans? In FN’s new op-ed series, Pensole’s D’Wayne Edwards addressed the question, writing that companies aren’t racist, but they do lack qualified black candidates. To remedy the problem, he recommends creating job-shadow programs to engage middle- and high-school students, as well as college apprentice and co-op programs.
Do the names Zineb Britel, Annamaria Brivio and Elsa Wandler ring a bell? If not now, they soon will. They’re part of an illustrious group of 19 designers on the rise. In our annual feature, FN looks at how these emerging talents are establishing product-focused businesses that often go hand in hand with developing and maintaining a public persona.