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Retail Realities: DNA Footwear in New York

With the fall shopping season in full swing and new styles flooding the stores, we here at Vamp decided to take stock with some of our favorite New York City footwear boutiques to discuss what’s popular going into the end of the year. Will we see more metallic? (Yes.) Is athleisure bigger than ever? (Yes.) Do people want boots for when it inevitably gets dreary out? Take a guess.

In the first part of our series we chat with Melissa Gerbereux, senior buyer at DNA Footwear, which boasts several locations in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan on Lafayette Street.

Vamp: How has the recent snap of cold weather affected sales?
Gerbereux: We have one of the best selections we’ve ever had for cold-weather footwear this year and we definitely saw a large increase in our rain boot sales after the cold, rainy weekend we experienced two weeks ago. Brands such as Hunter, Tretorn, Sperry, Dav, and Igor all blew out and we’ve placed re-orders for the top selling styles.

Vamp: Are shoppers buying fall and winter product? Or are they browsing?
Gerbereux: Our shoppers are definitely ready for colder weather, although it has yet to fully arrive. Fall/winter styles are accounting for most of our sales and online orders right now. We are finding that shoppers are gravitating towards styles that they can continue wearing into spring, such as low-to-mid heel booties and sneakers.

Vamp: When did you first put out fall product?
Gerbereux: We began slowly transitioning into to fall as early back as mid-July. Now, however, we are pretty much at full fall presentation and have a really strong selection of Fall/Winter styles.

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Vamp: What is currently on sale in your store?
Gerbereux: Our largest sale section lives on our website, with very little sale selection in our actual stores. However, what you will find on sale ranges from boots to accessories from last year’s fall/winter season, as well as the last bits of our spring product, primarily espadrilles, flat sandals, and dress sandals.

Vamp: Do you have any big promotions or sales coming up for Black Friday?
Gerbereux: We have a lot of really exciting promotions coming up, particularly around Thanksgiving, but most of our promotions are geared towards our “Friends and Family,” meaning our customers who’ve signed up to receive our e-mails. They get sale alerts first, which gives them first dibs. Next, we alert our followers on social media, where we also run occasional contests or award followers for loyalty, so we recommend staying in touch that way to hear about our best promotions.

Vamp: Which fashion trends are you counting on for Fall ’15?
Gerbereux: In women’s: athleisure, menswear-inspired shoes, almond/pointy toes, fashion hikers, fringe and western, metallic, heavy hardware, buffalo check and plaid and animal prints. For men: luxe sneakers, desert boots, work boots and burnished leathers.

Vamp: Do you expect this fall to be a big boot season?
Gerbereux: Absolutely! For the past few fall seasons, it’s been all about booties and that trend is not going away anytime soon. Low-to-mid heel ankle boots currently sell best for us across all brands. However, we still carry a small, carefully selected assortment of tall-shaft boots for the customer that is still interested in that style.

Vamp: In previous winter seasons, we’ve heard a lot about brands like Sorel and L.L. Bean being in high demand. Are there any brands or styles that you expect to take on that kind of demand this year?
Gerbereux: For this, it has to be Sperry’s take on the duck boot: the Salt Water for women and the Avenue Duck/Cold Bay for men. We could not keep these styles in stock last year and have booked these in a big way for this fall/winter.

Vamp: Which boots brands are you stocking for the fall?
Gerbereux: We will be carrying boots from all of our fashion brands, but boot specific brands include Timberland, Red Wing, Wolverine, Dr. Martens, Sorel, Pajar, Hunter, Kamik, Cougar, Ugg and The North Face.

: What are your bestselling boot brands and styles?
Gerbereux: Year after year, Ugg continues to surprise us with a strong sell-through, especially with our online customers. The company’s new seasonal offerings keep the brand fresh while offering stylish waterproof boots that shopper’s love. As far as fashion brands, Lucky Brand’s Basel bootie has been a monster hit – selling hundreds of pairs in the past few months. I re-order this bootie every week.

Vamp: Are there any trends from last fall that you expect to see less of this year?
Gerbereux: Last year we saw some color blocking, which will continue this year and will extend into mixed-material blocking. Heels and platforms are chunkier than last year’s shoes, with more tread, and that seems to be the case across women’s and men’s. We don’t expect to see as many wedge booties or over-the-knee boots this year.