During FFANY Market week, the Footwear Shoe New York Expo (FSNYE) is the place to be to discover new trends as they move from wholesale to retail. This year, brands like Aetrex, Camtrade and Chinese Laundry branched out in new directions, searching for the next winning style.
At Chinese Laundry, there’s a clear delineation between its three brands: Dirty Laundry, 42Gold and the brand’s namesake line. Chinese Laundry, directed at women shopping in the mid-price range between $50 to $150, carries a “disco” theme throughout this season’s line, with controlled but flashy pops of color and unique design to differentiate the product.
New platforms with exaggerated heels to suggest the appearance of a dramatic incline, will also be a feature for Spring, according to Chinese Laundry marketing director Ashley E. Thomas.
“The heels on [the new platforms] are actually not that high, but you give the illusion of one and you’re able to elongate the leg,” Thomas said. “But you’re not having to deal with a five-inch heel.”
Dirty Laundry, on the other hand, is embracing grunge with an eye toward appealing to the same consumer interest that made Doc Martens one of the current It shoes. The brand positioning appeals to a younger crowd, and as such, plays freely with colors and materials. Dirty Laundry is testing a new sandal silhouette with complex mixed materials, strapping, chunky soles and translucent metallic accents for a decidedly futuristic look.
“This line focuses heavily on dad sandals for spring/summer,” Thomas told Sourcing Journal. “We saw a lot of those come off the runway. Making that more accessible was super important to us, an important trend to follow.”
42Gold, on the other hand, focuses more on the upscale “women-on-the-go” demographic and infuses versatile, classic styles with the same pops of color and fresh design that define both Chinese Laundry and Dirty Laundry. The brand has seen intricate heel details resonate in recent cycles, especially those with atypical designs and translucent properties.
For Aetrex, upcoming collections will see an expansion of categories and styles as new creative director, Amy Egelja (formerly of Vionic), puts her touch on the brand’s signature shoe line and orthotics.
“We were really all about sandals, we had a really good sandal year,” Renee Newman, vice president of sales at strategic accounts footwear for Aetrex, told Sourcing Journal. “But when it came to fall, we didn’t really cover all the categories. But now we’re getting into more of the athleisure piece of it. We have ballet flats that we’re excited about. [Amy has] taken what our core styles have been in spring and incorporated it into styles in the fall line.”
Newman pointed to flats from Aetrex’s spring collection that shared a woven construction with some of the new silhouettes introduced into the fall line. The goal, she said, is to integrate details into each season to signify something uniquely Aetrex, increasing brand recognition and differentiating its footwear in the market.
Throughout its 70-year history, Aetrex has been largely known for its work in orthotics. According to Newman, this gives the company a leg up when it comes to comfort and versatility—two of the most important factors in footwear in 2019 and, likely beyond.
“Our insole business is the biggest piece of our business,” Newman said. “And shoes are now picking up. So we thought, ‘Why not put our orthotics into our shoes?'”
After launching a new brand, Enjoiya, last year, Camtrade (which also owns Secret Celebrity and Soft Comfort) has also worked to expand its categories and incorporate new colorways, prints and styles. Camtrade Footwear product development manager Vanessa Bolieiro told Sourcing Journal the brand typically strayed away from heels unless they were attached to a bootie or a “shootie,” as those are consistently popular styles.
However, as tastes have changed, Secret Celebrity has added pumps and other heeled shoes to test the market.
“We’re going into a little bit more diversified from dress booties, looking into some pumps—which we have dabbled with in the past,” Bolieiro said. “But I feel like we’ve done a really good job with the design and the materials this time. [We’ve added] a lot of the leopard prints, plaid is really big right now.
Another new addition to Camtrade’s lineup for Fall/Winter 2020 will be tall, heeled boots. The brand had been hesitant to increase the size of its boot silhouettes due to the popularity of the shootie style, Bolieiro said, but the relative uncertainty of upcoming seasons offered an opportunity to incorporate new silhouettes.
Fans of the brand should look for more outerwear-oriented silhouettes from the brand in the future as weatherproofing becomes ever more important in the footwear industry’s constant search for versatility.