Footwear report: shoes are flourishing but the sector lacks that one big trend

by Elise Diamantini
From left to right: To Boot New York, Lacoste, Noah Waxman
From left to right: To Boot New York, Lacoste, Noah Waxman

As pants are worn slimmer and shorter, guys are more able to show off their shoes. But with so many options and trends, buying footwear for your store can be tough to get right.

Glen Taylor of Taylor Richards & Conger explains, “We’re having success with certain items. Casual shoes like sneakers from To Boot New York in suede and leather have been excellent. Also, a soft terry clothlined slip-on in navy suede from Rossetti was the first thing out this spring. We’ll be looking for interesting takes on sneakers and other casual ideas that work with dressy sportswear. The most difficult shoes to get great sell-through on are leather bottom dressy shoes, but we need  them to accommodate our suit business so we’re working with some made-to-measure ideas like Nettleton, an old American brand, now made in Belgium. We’d like to replenish some of the better casual ideas, but most of the available stock is the slower moving classics.”

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For Randy Brewer at Convert, men’s shoe business has been tough this season and his customers are looking for brand names rather than trends. “I’m hoping this is a temporary condition that will pass, as we thrive on the new and exciting. We are selling Timberland Earthkeepers, Wolverine 1,000 Mile and Tretorn Skymra. The trend is basic and practical, but I’m hoping that changes. I would really like the market to focus on design and experimentation: melding comfort with style. I’m thinking back to the days of Puma’s 96 Hours collection. I’m just not seeing that amount of thought in most lines these days and I miss it. For spring

2016, I want to move forward with new colors, patterns, and a return to interesting dress shoes. Think Euro-chic, not trashy.”

Emerging brands like Filling Pieces, Zespà, ETQ and Ami are selling on East Dane, the contemporary menswear e-commerce site launched by Amazon. The website’s accessories and footwear buyer Jon Wong adds, “Season-specific silhouettes such as sandals and espadrilles are doing extremely well. And for spring 2016, sneakers will continue to dominate the market. We’ve seen sneakers as the focus on both the runway and on the sales floor.”

Scoop’s high to low pricing strategy for sneakers is working and as men’s VP/GMM Bryan Reynolds explains, “We’re selling designer sneakers like Margiela, Golden Goose and Del Piano, all the way down to Nike and Adidas at the same rate. Nike has always been a trailblazer and the shoe to have this year is Adidas’s Stan Smith.”

For spring 2016, zero in on a few key footwear trends that will work with your store’s dress and casual apparel offering. Since you need to stock sizes, narrow and deep is the way to go.