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8 Questions with President of Footwear at UBM Advanstar Leslie Gallin

There will be more than shoes on the minds of retailers and brands at FN Platform in Las Vegas Feb. 16-18. With the trade show taking place one month into a presidential election year, issues like sourcing and the impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on the footwear industry will take precedence, along with the usual hot topics like ominchannel, wholesale strategies and fashion trends.

FN Platform aims to answer the industry’s questions with a series of seminars and education opportunities, including sessions hosted by the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America (FDRA), Sterne Agee and The NPD Group.

Vamp spoke to Leslie Gallin, president of footwear at UBM Advanstar, the owner of FN Platform, ahead of the show to find out what she’s hearing and seeing in the footwear sector.

Vamp: What are you most optimistic about for the footwear industry in 2016?
Gallin: Wherever I go people are always talking about shoes. It has become a topic which the general public is aware of. It is the one item of daily apparel that people think about today. So I am optimistic about the enthusiasm the consumer has for shoes.

Vamp: What do you find to be retailers’ biggest question?
Gallin: I think retailers need to spin the usual on its head. Be disruptive by thinking about, “How can I amp up the visual presentation both in-store and online.” People are motivated by sight and smell. It’s kind of like why each Christmas people await the clever new displays in Fifth Avenue retail windows. Create the desire for consumption. We are a conspicuous consumption society. We no longer buy out of need. It’s all about want, status and self-gratification.

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Vamp: How would you describe the current state of the footwear market?
Gallin: It’s all about the product. Many complain and look for reasons outside of themselves or what they are offering for sales. If you have a product that people are interested in—you will always have sales.

Vamp: What is the industry’s biggest concerns going into the Fall ’16 season?
Gallin: Political stability.

Vamp: Which retailers do you find inspiring?
Gallin: I think some of the European retailers such as Selfridges, and U.S. companies such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Barneys, who have all upgraded their shoe floors, do a very good job. [Also] independent retailers like David’s in Beverly Hills, Gus Mayer in Nashville and Birmingham.

Vamp: What steps is FN Platform taking to help both retailers and brands?
Gallin: We recognize the need for education. The world is moving fast with technology as are the laws on importing and exporting, manufacturing and chemical compounds… all eye glazing topics. Our seminar program, along with our networking programs, are the best sources for answering the questions for what retailers and vendors need to know in today’s complex world.

Vamp: What are some up-and-coming brands that should be on retailers’ radars for 2016?
Gallin: A few to look out for this show are: Blueprint, Clamp, Firenze Studio, Hart Schaffner Marx, Kat Maconie, Ralph Lauren, Loriblu and Wolverine Heritage.

Vamp: What are the must-have trends for Fall ’16?
Gallin: Desert boots, lugged soles, monk styles and athletic styles for men. Booties, flats, kitten heels and pastel colors are big for women.