Comfort-Driven Shoes With Flair Top Buyers’ Shopping Lists at Sole Commerce Show in NYC

It’s going to be a comfortable, colorful spring footwear season, according to retailers shopping the Sole Commerce show happening in New York City this week. Boutique and shoe store buyers continued their enthusiasm for sneakers and athleisure styles, rounded out by espadrilles and low-heeled sandals.

Austin Thomas, a buyer for SimplySoles.com, noted her customers are looking for more comfortable heels, gravitating toward kitten versions they can wear to work as well as after hours. Ballet flats from brands such as Ramon Tenza and French Sole were also on her list. “We have an older demographic who loves them,” she said, about the classic flat. “Our customer is more sophisticated.”

Like Thomas, Olivia Loupe, who owns Chatta Box Boutique in Baton Rouge, La., said, “Comfort is important to people,” also citing the importance of lower block heels over higher versions, along with fashionable takes on sneakers. “People are wearing tennis shoes with dresses,” she said, about the growing trend.

“People are used to sneakers, but if there’s an occasion where you can’t wear them, they aren’t going to opt for a stiletto,” said Lauren Bailey Pollard of the Edit, also located in Baton Rouge, La., about the popularity of dressier looks on low heels.

Material interest is also defining the season, buyers agreed, as exotics like snake and leopard continue gain momentum online and at brick-and-mortar stores.

Gola, animal print sneaker, leopard print trend
Gola taps into the exotics trend, a fashion statement that is projected to do well for spring 2020.
CREDIT: Credit: Madeleine Crenshaw

“The whole animal kingdom is taking over,” said Kathy Matava of Matava Shoes in Lutherville, Md. The retailer, who’s been in the business for three decades, has noticed at her store a strong sale of shoes in exotic prints ranging from leopard to snakeskin.

Audrey Aguilar of Lily in Old Greenwich, Conn., emphasized that snake, specifically, was a big seller because it’s a colorway customers can pair with just about anything. “Snakeskin is big because it’s an animal print that’s more neutral,” Aguilar told FN. “It’s like camo, which is wildly popular and still selling for us.” The retailer was also on the hunt for shoes with espadrille bottoms, which are expected to be a huge hit for spring 2020 as well.

Patricia Green, espadrilles, snake print shoes
Snakeskin and espadrilles, like this Patricia Green sandal, are two trends spotted for the spring 2020 season.
CREDIT: Credit: Madeleine Crenshaw

While some buyers were placing their bets on exotics for spring, at The Shoe Attic in Colonial Williamsburg, Va., owner Brittany Rolston, was scaling back on select animal prints. “We’re only doing a little [leopard] for spring since we have so much for fall,” she said. However, that didn’t mean she was ruling out animal prints altogether. “This time, we’re going to do snakeskin, but with pops of color such as coral and neons, as well as croc in blues and greens.”

Arielle Budow, owner of Kiki’s Boots in Baltimore, Md., told FN that while she is on the search for animal prints, shoes in fun neon colorways are also on her list. “Neons are performing so well in fashion, especially in retail, we expect them to be big with shoes for spring,” she said.

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