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Shoe of the Month: Veronica Beard, Franco Sarto, Talk Thoughtful, Feminine Footwear

Caleres portfolio brands Veronica Beard and Franco Sarto are allied in their decidedly modern aesthetic for footwear – but the distinctiveness of their fall collections lies in a predilection for wooden, luxuriously styled boho looks and a versatility across equestrian, cozy lug boots and tougher moto qualities, respectively.

To start, Veronica Beard’s differentiation lies in its dedication to inspire confidence through their product that is “thoughtfully designed” and “intuitively built for real life.” The brand told FN that its feminine silhouettes, from cult classics to perfect pumps, are “the ideal finishing touch for the woman who loves the brand” and that every shoe is “unique, stylish, and tells a story.”

Its fall 2021 collection plays into “Artisanal Craft” seen across its Dacey, Delia and Daxi wooden clogs that feature boho inspired rich suedes, crafted whip stitching and covered buckles. The brand told FN that a standout style is its “perfectly pointed” Lisa over-the-knee boot, “an empowering and stylish boot to take you from day to night,” available in espresso brown and black suede.

Franco Sarto
The “Margey” shoe in Puddy.

Franco Sarto’s take on footwear is centered on “form meeting fashion and function.” Its styles are infused with InFORMA comfort Technology, which balances intentional design, attention to detail, craftsmanship and endless wearability, the brand explained. “Franco Sarto is designed for the on-the-go woman. She is socially curious and style-conscious,” they noted.

Fall 2021 for Franco Sarto embodies variability through equestrian and Western-inspired boots with “thoughtful” details such as faux-fur trimming and “gleaming metallic architectural inspired heels that add a little something extra to everyday silhouettes.” Its cold weather, snug lace-up lug boots “exude a cool, utilitarian vibe” alongside edgy moto boots that “bring forth a modern attitude.”

The brand told FN, “Franco Sarto offers coveted trends artfully crafted in a wide variety of styles, ranging from flat and casual to sleek and dressy. With Franco Sarto, you’ll find everything from a rich selection of classics to contemporary styles that meet today’s trends for the urban sophisticate.”

And the brand added that its Sustain by SARTO line incorporates considered materials with eco-consciousness in mind, using select materials that are environmentally preferred. “Make it sincere and make it matter, there is an art to that – the pursuit of our Italian heritage is at the core of every shoe we create.”

SHOE OF THE MONTH: Vionic Talks Spring in its Step, OCTOBER 2021

Vionic’s spring collection is flush with fresh, bold, and playful styles – and it should come as no surprise that its penchant for wellness is both a foundational and functional undertone throughout its latest lineup, as well as for its featured giving moment that honors October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Its spring collection is centered on optimism, with a focus on uplifting colors and forward-thinking styles. The brand told FN, “Developing this line during the phase of the pandemic when things were opening back up, we were inspired by the positivity  and possibility of that time. It’s manifested in a collection reflecting perfect world vibes and the look great, feel great energies that our shoes make possible. SS ‘22 is chic and simple but also bold and playful – with a celebratory getaway, resort, adventurous feel.”

Vionic said it is meeting consumers “where they are and in what they’re doing” – and that means a continued focus on active shoes to support those wellness walks and other physical activities shoppers have embraced during the pandemic.

“We’re also emphasizing comfort and casualization by mixing fashion trends with sportiness and outdoor functionality. We have styles that serve the back-to-office transition and the work-from-home hybrid. There’s a visual and tangible softness to materials including a new line of dual density recovery foam slides and extra-cushiony sneakers.”

Vionic added that dressier options for spring “dazzle with metallic and jewel touches, luxe materials and elevated silhouettes,” and said that sustainability, too, continues to be “front and center” in its ever-expanding BEACH line of casual sneakers, which will include an eco-friendly footwear collaboration with Fabien Cousteau and his marine research project, PROTEUS.

Another key collaboration and point of passion for Vionic is with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation® – a cause that is close to home for the brand as three members of its design team have mothers who have beaten breast cancer.

“Health and wellness is at the core of our brand, as is advocating for a positive difference in the world and for those around us. In past years, our charitable branch Vionic Cares has sponsored breast cancer walks near our headquarters here in the Bay Area. Aligning with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation® this year is just an extension of our dedication to this cause, due in no small part to statistics surrounding the disease.”

According to the World Health Organization, in 2020 there were 2.3 million women diagnosed with breast cancer and 685,000 deaths globally. As of the end of 2020, there were 7.8 million women alive who were diagnosed with breast cancer in the past five years, making it the world’s most prevalent cancer. “Alarming as this information is, it’s strides in research that give us hope for a cure,” Vionic told FN.

To commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Vionic is donating 100 percent of proceeds to BCRF from a limited-edition capsule collection. The brand said it wanted to “showcase the styles that best represent Vionic and, of course, something our designers’ moms – and women everywhere –

would love. We carefully chose the soft pink color to represent her femininity and soft touch. The ribbons were strategically placed to highlight this cause and yet still look flattering to each style.”

But for Vionic, which aims to “deliver wellness from the ground up,” well-being is continuously embedded within the brand’s entire product offering.

The brand told FN, “Prior to Vionic, style and support were considered contradictory terms in the marketplace. We’ve disrupted that notion – and the industry – with products that enable customers to look great and feel great without compromising one for the other.”

That mission becomes a reality with features such as its podiatrist-developed Vio-Motion™ footbed technology, delivering Three-Zone Comfort stability, cushioning, and ultimate arch support in every shoe it makes. “The benefits from our technology empower people to step up to all facets of life – especially if they suffer from plantar fasciitis or other chronic foot ailments – providing the relief they seek in shoes they love to wear.”

Beyond footwear, Vionic supports shoppers with wide-ranging lifestyle content from its Vionic Innovation Lab, comprised of leading medical doctors and health and wellness experts. And many of its products carry the APMA Seal of Acceptance, which certifies that they are beneficial in promoting foot health. “We’re serving the previously unserved style-driven support niche. We don’t just stand out in that market as much as we identified and created it.”

Vionic credits Caleres for its support in helping grow the brand beyond bounds. “As part of the Caleres family, Vionic fills a gap between comfort and fashion with supportive and stylish offerings. We’ve emerged as a key-growth brand within the portfolio thanks to a mix of things, like the uniqueness of our wellness-delivering support technology and the way it’s infused into coveted collections of modern classics and fresh trends.”

“It’s the breadth of the Vionic selection, offering something for everyone and every occasion. It’s our following; backed up by medical doctors, product experts, social media influencers, style editors, and most importantly consumers (our incredible ‘raving fans’) who affirm that Vionic shoes have changed their lives. Largely, it’s also because of shared perspectives and goals as members of a collective Caleres team – with brands who all bring something special to the table.”

SHOE OF THE MONTH: Sam Edelman Selects its Fall Footwear Pick, SEPTEMBER 2021

“It’s time for a re-boot,” according to Sam Edelman’s latest campaign – and its Laguna Chelsea Boot is an ideal segue into sweater weather, sporting a mid-sized, chunky heel alongside patterned and apropos autumnal hues.

Its utilitarian yet stylish aesthetic is a nod to its classic Chelsea Boot, a retrofit that resulted in a weighty waterproof wader-style boot apt for cooler, crisper weather. Sam Edelman, part of the Caleres portfolio, praises the Laguna Chelsea Boot for its double gore construction, or elastic insets, that allow for a flexible custom fit, as well as its size inclusivity, which graciously extends from sizes 4 to 14.

The pull on, closed toe Laguna Chelsea Boot boasts variety, available in bold colors and patterns inclusive of Desert Multi Snake; Bordeaux/Black; Tobacco Suede; Black Leather; Sesame Leather; Bright White Leather; Black Suede; Light Cedarwood Leather; Pebble Grey Leather; and Mineral Green. The style is also available in a Laguna Mini Chelsea Boot for children’s footwear.

Sam Edelman, cofounder of the eponymously named brand, told FN that the company is a fashion marketing company, first and foremost in footwear. “We tell a brand story through logo and imagery with an attention to detail that is unmatched. Couple this with incredible trend forecasting and aspirational luxury product that has consistent fit, comfort and integrity and you have a recipe for success that sets us apart in the market.”

The brand said that consumer experience is top of mind for Sam Edelman as it moves into Q4, and that much of its differentiation in the footwear segment stems from its quest to bring something new to the table for its widespread, loyal following. “From our direct-to-consumer channels to our amazing retail partners all over the world, we are finding new and exciting ways to bring the Sam Edelman experience to our customers. Specifically, we are doing really exciting things in the world of influencer by working with diverse individuals who help us bring our product to life in new and exciting ways.”

And for Edelman, being part of the broader Caleres portfolio enhances its growth and trendspotting in the segment. “Caleres welcomed Libby and I to the family 14 years ago. Their wonderful partnership has given us an immense opportunity to grow and develop the brands in our division – and their resources help further our mission to deliver quality shoes and trend-on fashion to our customers.”

SHOE OF THE MONTH: Famous Footwear Touts its Back-to School Assortment, AUGUST 2021

For Famous Footwear, back to school fashion is all about curating a consumer-focused assortment – and this season, that takes form in perennial favorites from footwear brands such as Birkenstock, Converse, Crocs, Dr. Martens and Nike.

Famous Footwear – part of the Caleres portfolio – offers the hottest trends from sought-after brands for the entire family. And with over 900 brick-and-mortar stores nationwide and a best-in-class ecommerce site, the retailer must be doing something right. Caleres recently announced that Famous delivered record second quarter sales and record operating earnings that exceed the full-year 2019.

The brand told FN that much of its differentiation lies in its omni-channel strategy, which involves customer-first services that make shopping at Famous Footwear “convenient and accessible.”  This includes its Famously Fast in-store and curbside Pickup and Famously Easy Returns policy, alongside tenured associates who focus on “making the customer feel their best no matter what they’re looking for.” Its award winning Famously You Rewards program, which saw a 20 percent increase in new members since the start of the year, also provides valuable incentives for the Famous consumer.

Swooshfetti Nike
Swooshfetti Collection by Nike. Courtesy of Famous Footwear.
CREDIT: Jason Patrylo

It’s been an exciting year for the brand already with the launch of a new e-commerce site – where sales have increased more than 50 percent over 2019 – and a private label credit card linked to its Famously You Rewards program. “We’ll continue to expand features and functions on our e-commerce platform and mobile app and will continue to invest in our brick-and-mortar footprint – implementing superior shopping experiences like kids’ and athletics shop-n-shops.”

This time of year, it’s all about Back to School – historically the most important time of year for Famous,” the brand said. Famous Footwear’s back-to-school and fall fashion lineup debuts new styles from consumer-favorites such as Birkenstock, Converse, and Dr. Martens, which – true to form – feature quintessential Nineties fare, both classic and sporty, alongside bold and uber-colorful styles from Crocs and Nike.

Footwear aside, the brand goes a step beyond with its own company-wide ambitions. Famous Footwear told FN, “We’ve been expanding our national partnership with the non-profit organization Ticket to Dream Foundation. Since the launch of the program at the end of 2020, we are excited to report we’ve just passed the $4 million mark in donations to assist foster youth across the country. Our round-up at the register option, both in-stores and online, has proven very successful for connecting our customer with this great cause, and we’re excited to continue the momentum.’

The brand added that it will also continue to “focus its assortment on the key brands that resonate and emotionally connect with our customers.”

SHOE OF THE MONTH: Vionic’s ‘Tokyo Sneaker’ Pairs Style, Authentic Support, JULY 2021

Sporty style and bona fide support rarely go hand-in-hand — but for Vionic, a footwear brand by Caleres, its raison d’être is to pair a smart aesthetic with lasting comfort that promotes an enduring feeling of wellbeing for its wearers.

Self-described as a style-driven, supportive footwear brand, Vionic’s credo is to “promote wellness from the ground up.” The brand told FN, “[Our] customers don’t have to compromise between looking good and feeling good. Our proprietary, podiatrist-developed Vio-Motion™ footbed technology is designed into every shoe we make, delivering Three-Zone Comfort stability, cushioning, and ultimate arch support.”

“The wellness derived from this empowers people to step up to their best lives—especially if they suffer from plantar fasciitis or other chronic foot ailments—providing the relief they seek in shoes they love to wear.”

Coupled with Three-Zone Comfort, Vionic active styles Tokyo,  also offer its 1st Ray technology, which specifically helps with forefoot stability and flexibility through the big toe, the brand explained.

A top seller, Tokyo is billed as the most comfortable active shoe Vionic offers. Prized for its lightweight feel, flexibility and stability, the Tokyo is made with breathable mesh and man-made uppers, a durable rubber outsole, and its textile-covered Vio-Motion™  orthotic is removable. Tokyo is offered in six colorways, inclusive of a “Pastel Lilac” that is wholly unique.

Vionic explained that its current overall design focus emphasizes the comfort and casualization trend grown out of time spent at home over the past year. “We’re mixing fashion with sporty-outdoorsy elements, like lug soles and waterproof constructions, including our first-ever waterproof sneaker. We’re additionally offering customers styles that serve the back-to-office transition and the work-from-home hybrid.”

“Materials reflect a creative use of knit, faux-shearling, and puffy-inspired quilting to impart an inviting visual softness in optimistic colors and patterns. Where we’ve been is definitely reflected in where we are going.”

Style and trends aside, Vionic takes pride in its Vionic Innovation Lab, a consumer-centric platform filled with wide-ranging lifestyle content created by leading medical doctors and health and wellness experts. The brand said that many of its products carry the APMA Seal of Acceptance, which certifies that its shoes are beneficial in promoting foot health, “making Vionic one of only a few footwear brands with demonstrated ability to provide proper support. Whether it’s work, rest, or play, we stand out in a wellness-focused way with a stylish, supportive product that the marketplace previously lacked.”

From the brand’s perspective, Vionic’s niche focus on wellness is what enabled it to emerge as “a key growth brand” within the Caleres portfolio.

“It’s the uniqueness of our wellness-delivering support technology and the way it’s infused into coveted collections of modern classics and fresh trends. It’s the breadth of our selection, offering something for everyone and every occasion. It’s our following; backed up by product experts who champion us, influencers who follow us, editors who feature us, and most importantly consumers—our incredible ‘raving fans’—who affirm that our shoes have changed their lives.”

“Caleres has been a great fit for Vionic, and we’ve only just gotten started. We’re excited to see how this partnership can make footwear history.”

SHOE OF THE MONTH: Allen Edmonds Turns Best-Selling Shoe into Sneaker, JUNE 2021

Functionality, versatility and comfort are just a few of the leading key descriptors for upcoming fall fashion – and for Allen Edmonds, a heritage footwear brand by Caleres, its focus is on meeting said “needs of the current moment” by delivering expanded and evolved lines that cater to shoppers’ shifted preferences.

That’s why its fall lineup includes the “Strand Oxford Sneaker,” its best-selling Strand style newly available as a rubber-soled sneaker. The handsome pick—available in a bourbon-colored “walnut” or black—is designed with six-eyelet, lace-up, dress sneaker uppers featuring brogue details and then strategically paired with customizable rubber soles available in colors such as blue or red. It’s just the type of hybrid shoe shoppers might seek when heading back into the workplace, due to its “dress casual” style, FlyFormTM removable insole that provides enhanced support and shock absorption, and its flexibility and comfort.

“As dress codes and workplaces are evolving, we are too,” Allen Edmonds told FN. “We’re expanding our line of elevated leather sneakers, introducing brand new styles of ruggedly refined boots and updating some of our most iconic designs with rich materials and colors like golden turmeric, deep burgundy and edgy shades of green. It’s a collection of functionally versatile footwear built to meet the needs of the current moment.”

Allen Edmonds
The Allen Edmonds Strand Oxford Sneaker in Walnut.

Its Strand Oxford Sneaker offers a heritage look and feel, which authentically speaks to the brand’s beginnings nearly a century ago. “Since 1922, our shoes have set the standard for timeless American style. We work with the world’s top tanneries to source the very best materials like full-grain European calfskin and English suede,” the brand explained to FN.

Allen Edmonds calls U.S. presidents, business leaders and “multiple generations of discerning individuals” among the fans of its footwear – and they said that the brand aims to represent both the “rich history and future possibilities” for American style. “We share many of the same core values as the other members of our family of brands [at Caleres], including a focus on fit, comfort and timeless design. At the same time, we bring a unique perspective to mix through our singular dedication to using exceptional materials and craftsmanship to make the very best men’s shoes, sneakers and boots.”

Handcrafted in Port Washington, Wisconsin, Allen Edmonds said that its attention to quality and American craftsmanship is perhaps its greatest differentiator. “Both time-tested processes and the latest innovative techniques are used to ensure the highest level of craftsmanship for our footwear, including our dress shoes and boots,” the brand said. “A commitment to honesty, integrity and quality have set us apart for the last century and will continue to define our every step forward into the next one.”

SHOE OF THE MONTH: Naturalizer’s True Colors Collection, MAY 2021

“Let’s get real” is the pithy plea behind Naturalizer’s recently expanded True Colors Collection — and the brand’s continual commitment to footwear inclusivity is inspired by the notion that nude is not a “one-shade-fits-all” kind of color.

Naturalizer, a Caleres brand, first dipped its toe into color inclusivity in spring 2019 when it initially debuted the True Colors Collection. Its expanded collection now features ten neutral shades in a variety of silhouettes, ranging from delectable, enticingly named colors such as Nutmeg, Cocoa and Barely Cremé, to richer, more traditional hues in the vein of Mahogany or Espresso.

To create its new range of nudes, Naturalizer utilized its own consumer insights and feedback to help guide the undertones for each shade that should be considered during the design process, the company explained.

And one of the brand’s greatest differentiators is its enduring dedication to comfort and fit. Naturalizer’s Contour Plus Comfort technology is inherently inclusive, as it helps pinpoints those tough-to-find sizes and widths for women’s shoes and translates it into practical, feminine footwear.

naturalizer, vera, sandal
Naturalizer’s Vera sandal in a range of hues.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Naturalizer

But technology aside, Naturalizer’s “Vera” shoe is a top seller in the collection, a simplistically elegant sandal with an open silhouette and modern heel shape, available in all ten shades. Later this year, Naturalizer will launch a limited-edition “Astara” sneaker designed in collaboration with Candace Reels of The Female Collective, which will benefit Black Girls Code, and in addition, will relaunch its RSVP Collection of styles later this summer.

Also in alignment with Naturalizer’s design inclusivity is the brand’s Today We Will campaign, which matches passion with purpose through showcasing the stories of diverse, driven, inspiring female leaders and their chosen Naturalizer styles — bringing the brand full circle.

“Naturalizer is a lead asset within the Caleres portfolio with a rich heritage and signature aesthetic,” the company told FN. It is a brand for all women — with a mission to design shoes that fit how women live their lives.”

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