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Brands Dish on Buyers’ Favorites at FFANY

The weather outside might have been brutally cold during FFANY (Jan. 3-5), but footwear buyers were snapping up short boots, spruced up pumps and leather oxfords across New York City showrooms. Here’s a look at some of the most buzzed about trends.

Fresh Material
A return to quality leather and European craftsmanship was a common theme at FFANY. Brands with bragging rights, like Portuguese label DKode and Spanish brand Pikolinos, which have their own factories and tanneries, said buyers were drawn to shoes that let the leather stand on its own.

One of DKode’s most popular groupings at the show was a group of smooth black leather boots and pumps on a chucky lug bottom. The grouping was a break from the brand’s distressed designs.

Likewise, Summit by White Mountain director of sales Maxwell Harrell said the brand’s pairing of Italian leathers with elevated details like high wall toe boxes struck the right note with buyers looking for elegant, wearable designs. Another popular style was a black Chelsea boot, on both a traditional last and on a small flatform outsole.

Call it the Euro effect. Due to the depressed Euro, Harrell said U.S. manufacturers have an opportunity to tap into European factories’ team of skilled artisans. He said the factories in Italy are more than eager to pick up new work from U.S. brands — and both the brands and consumers can benefit. He added not even China could beat the price points he’s finding in Italy.

While Pikolino saw some interest in casual styles that played with distressed tapping, sportier outsoles and casual hikers, a brand rep said women’s man-tailored styles remain core pieces in buyers’ assortments. The rub-off leathers used on the oxfords and brogues are deceptively soft, and instead of heavy embellishments, the brand incorporated subtle details, like micro braiding, warm gold zipper closures and very faint metallic backsplashes to add pizzazz to the all leather collection.

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Point Taken
Lorraine Abrams, northeast territory manager of Restricted, said the brand is receiving a lot of buzz around their hikers, oxfords on a heel and pointed toe flats. “Overall there’s a trend toward pointer silhouettes,” she said, noting that one pointed toe pump with a broad heel is doing particular well. “I think people like the contrast.”

All Black is taking a stab at updating pointed toe heels with low cut ankle booties on a kitten heel and a leather style with a stretch opening that agent and distributor Marty Rose called a “pull-on pump.” In terms of stretch, the fall shoe picks up where the brand’s popular Spring ’15 sandal, made out of stretchy bathing suit material, left off. Another stunner in the range is a pointed toe suede pump with a low vamp trimmed with wide lace. The lace detail stretches across the top of the foot, almost like a sock.

All the Trimmings
Lace is a big story for holiday, according to Rose. All Black uses it to create texture (black lace on black uppers), and contrast (black lace on blue uppers). Delman adds a boudoir element to the delicate fabric by layering it over red metallic uppers on jigsaw-inspired flats and high heel booties.

French Sole is betting on velvet to be the big story for holiday. The brand is topping off their popular scalloped edge flat in the lush fabrication offered in rich shades of merlot, navy and emerald green. Those same colors are redone as a pearly metallic on the same best-selling flat.

Marble-inspired materials grace the heels of Nina Originals and French Sole. Nina takes an opulent road with block heels that look like Mother of Pearl mosaic, while French Sole updated its popular Major with a heel and toe detail that resembles earthy stonework.

For a painterly effect, brands like All Black and Lemon Jelly are splashing colors across shoes. All Black expanded with a with a drip treatment, that Rose said is catching buyers’ attention. The bold black slashes of paint add a high-end look to deconstructed suede mustard and off-white oxfords. Lemon Jelly is more brazen. The Portuguese rubber footwear brand offers sweeping metallic gold brush strokes across their glossy black rain boots.

Distress Call
Filipe Moreira, business development manager for DKode, which is on pace to expand its U.S. business this year, said the brand was drawing interest for its “vintage revivalist” designs at FFANY. The comfort meets fashion brand relies heavily on distressed leathers, exaggerated seams and stitches and distressed western styling.

Likewise, Kurt Hibler, a principal at Diba Imports, LP, said the company’s distressed materials are requested by just about every private label account he met with at FFANY. Highlights include a tall caramel boot and midi pull-on boots in foggy hues of gray and mushroom made with crushed and leather treated with a discoloring effect.

Casual wraparound boots, made popular by Fiorentini and Baker, are on the up and up, according to Harrell of Summit. The Made in Italy brand also found success with its tall buffalo leather boot at FFANY, in part to its affordable price point (under $230), and the material’s natural texture.

Gym Class
High on style, low on performance, brands saw interest in refined sneaker silhouettes—especially skater slip-ons. All Black incorporated a touch of autumnal haberdashery to their kicks, adding tartan and wool uppers to pointed toe sneakers. Zippers coiled around another knockout style, which Rose said performed well at the show.

French Sole’s slip-on sneakers in shades of periwinkle and cream offered a lighter vibe to the season, but the brand’s quilted loafers — accented with a Gucci-esqe heavy chains — kicked the staid style into athletic territory with a sporty, white lug sole.

For men, a Pikolinos rep said the brand did well at the show with a retro European racer accented with hints of metallic blue striping. On the women’s side, the brand played with the taping of sneakers and added more athletic outsoles to its casuals collection to create hybrid designs. New colorways, included two-tone updates like gray and blue combinations, added depth to the lo- and hi-top silhouettes.