Whether its a knit wool upper, ala Allbirds, or lightweight soles that make consumers wonder whether they’re wearing a shoe at all, comfort was the word on everyone’s lips at FFANY Tuesday, and there was no shortage of new styles in the casual and lifestyle sector.
A diverse collection of silhouettes that both allude to past success and challenge brand expectations were on display at the show. All Black, for one, presented its best-selling platform booties and shooties (a bootie with the heel of a boot and the upper of a mid-sized clog) but paired them with cowhide accents of on-trend animal print—specifically, zebra and leopard—and a slightly sloping hidden wedge the brand says is helpful for those with foot problems.
Uppers, in general, were increasingly complex at FFANY, with multiple brands showcasing new and old silhouettes made with a variety of materials. Even Pikolinos, known for its stalwart commitment to classic silhouettes composed of high-quality Spanish leather, featured several high-heeled leather boots with tongues composed of wool and polyester.
Suede and leather remain popular, with a mix of real and synthetic leather footwear found among most of the upcoming collections at the show. Burnished leather is back in a big way, adding a layer of vintage style. One brand rep suggested the rise of the soft, burnished leather was a side-effect of a culture devoted to instant gratification, so brands are doing the hard work of wearing in the leather for the consumer.
Camtrade, through its Secret Celebrity and Soft Comfort brands, will introduce leather into its footwear lines for the first time in Spring ’19, and will offer an expanded collection for the fall. Vanessa Bolieiro, product development manager for Camtrade, told Sourcing Journal that introducing leather was about branching out—using each brand’s most popular silhouettes—into more natural materials.
Camtrade will use its best-selling open-toed silhouettes to feature the leather, but with some variation in style. Leather ankle straps and jute-wrapped wedges will come alongside ridged, wood-like platform wedges that will at times be paired with memory foam insoles for maximum comfort.
Secret Celebrity updated its popular “Allura” wedge bootie for Fall ’19 with a pearlized slate grey cross-hatched polyurethane upper wrapped around a faux-leather midsole. The brand will also be trying out denim uppers for a new bootie and a pair of slides in tan and indigo.
Dansko, in particular, said it had changed the way it was sourcing leather, moving away from the thicker, more rugged material of previous seasons to a more supple stock that adds to the comfort of its characteristically practical offering.
Additionally, Dansko continued the rollout of its patent-pending stapled EVA soles for Fall ’19. The use of such a lightweight, yet hardy material made a significant difference in the weight and overall feel of EVA-equipped Dansko footwear, and the brand said it was continuing to add the new material to its popular silhouettes.
Minnetonka is introducing a new, lighter sole for the season, too. Moccasins that were already lightweight and high on wearability have become even lighter, but with a more versatile sole—suggesting no brand and no style is too classic to update with new materials in the current footwear market.
The brand also said its best-selling silhouette for the prior season was a rainbow-colored knitted bootie and it’s attempting to further capitalize on that by testing a number of less-than-typical styles by offering limited orders to smaller, independent retailers, including some mixed-material upper concepts, which would mark somewhat of a departure for a brand known for a signature look.
Colors for the fall were muted and favored earth tones. But along with playful new materials come playful new colors, perhaps none bolder than the iridescent metallic sparkle found on some of Birkenstock’s newest options. Collectively, wine and olive grey colorways were abundant at FFANY, though a clear trend of pairing those classic colors with canary yellow or salmon pink accents was also observed.
Birkenstock is experimenting with adding shearling to some of its more classic silhouettes and is continuing to test out fashion-forward boot and bootie styles to work with its signature cork footbed, naturally, without sacrificing the quality of Birkenstock’s defining feature.
Both Dansko and Birkenstock also included “paired” styles—where one shoe is one part of the design, and the other shoe another—for Fall ’19, particularly in children’s wear. A couple of the more interesting concepts were a Dansko clog that featured a “color-by-numbers” upper and a Birkenstock sandal where each shoe was one end of an anatomically-correct dinosaur skeleton.