For spring, footwear is getting a refresh.
This year at the Fashion Footwear Association of New York (FFANY) Market Week, the buzz on the showroom floor was all about newness. Gen Z is aging into financial independence and millennials have more purchasing power than ever before, so brands are taking notice and offering up new ideas and styles that appeal to a different, younger audience.
Newness and spring go hand and hand and, according to brands, and consumers are responding positively to anything they haven’t seen before.
“Sandals are a very important category for Crocs entering into Spring ’20. We are investing heavily in newness and looking to make sure we are creating sandals for what we call our ‘feel good’ and ‘explore’ consumer,” a Crocs representative told Sourcing Journal. “We have a lot of momentum around our classic clog. The teen and Gen Z consumer is loving all the fashion colors, the prints—and also the opportunity, which is unique to Crocs, to personalize our product.”
Speaking in reference to Jibbitz shoe charms, which lets wearers personalize their pair of clogs by inserting the charms into the holes at the toe of the iconic shoe, Crocs said it’s expanding on what’s available to allow for more customization opportunities. The new Jibbitz have already been a hit with teens involved in extracurricular activities, like sports, who wish to show their team pride in every way possible, the rep said.
True sandals will also play an important role for Crocs next spring. The brand will have a new sandal collection for the coming season featuring two new silhouettes—a strappy sandal and a flip with a closed toe.
“It’s really important in women’s sandals to really think about wearing occasions for the consumer and then also, certainly, comfort,” the representative said. “To add and build on that, we are looking at heel heights. They’re critical to women’s assortments in sandals.”
Also critical for Crocs are the vibrant new colors it’s rolling out for spring: mint, cantaloupe and a new electric pink. Additionally, the brand debut a jumbo-sized clog, a play on the dad sneaker trend with a substantial, chunky sole and oversized features.
At Camtrade, the announcement of its new line, “Enjoiya,” took center stage, and according to the company, it’s adding “a lot more color and material interest” in its footwear.
Camtrade’s new president of footwear, Gene DeCristofaro, who joined the company in February, said the brand will be looking to provide women with brand new options next spring.
“She still wants her comfort, she still wants her basic styles,” DeCristofaro said of the female footwear consumer. “But, she’s also looking for something that she’s never owned before.”
In hopes of responding to that demand, Enjoiya will be crafted with fine Italian leathers, and will be at a higher, more exclusive price point than Camtrade has embraced in the past, DeCristofaro said.
“I can’t go to a better independent [retailer] and say this is a great shoe for $39—they don’t want it. They want to sell $100, $150 shoes,” DeCristofaro explained. “This will expand our customer base.”
Camtrade already has a few higher priced independent and department stores lined up for future orders but declined to say which until the orders were finalized. Enjoiya will primarily be produced in Italy, though some production will occur in India, according to the brand.
It will also be the first line under the Camtrade banner to use European sizing, a tactic DeCristofaro said will help consumers associate the brand with higher-end products. The line will have a soft launch over the next few weeks as Camtrade takes their new samples around to trade shows but will launch in earnest shortly after.
In the meantime, Camtrade’s president spoke more about the trends he saw resonating with consumers in the coming season.
“Because of the way women are dressing, which is with a plain pair of pants, they are putting more emphasis on putting some fun and color into their footwear and their accessories,” he said. “They still want comfort, they still want adjustability. But, they want shoes that they can wear with multiple outfits. Versatility is very important now.”
Looking forward, DeCristofaro said Camtrade expects to have a very “tight” fall line. The next season will also be a harbinger for change in the boot category, he predicts.
“Booties are shoes now. Booties are not boots anymore, they’re shoes,” he said. “Boots are up to the knee, these are shoes.”
At Birkenstock, the classic sandal brand sees an opportunity in the upcoming season to capitalize on what it has always been good at—high-quality open-toed footwear. However, the brand has decided to open up its style variety this spring, offering more styles than it has had in recent memory, including new wedges and platforms.
“The beauty of this collection is that it really offers everything that a classic Birkenstock offers, just with a little bit of an elevated fashion look,” Dania Shiblaq, a senior PR manager at the brand told Sourcing Journal. “So, if you want to dress it up or dress it down, it works from day to night.”
Birkenstock is adding new styles outside of its open-toe collections, too. Next year, the brand will introduce an expanding closed-toe offering after opening the category in the past year. Shiblaq said the collection will work to bring supreme comfort to styles that are not typically known for it, like ballet shoes, something consumers have been very responsive to.
“Ballet shoes are one of those styles that women will slip into for comfort—but they actually don’t provide any comfort,” she remarked. “In a lot of ways they end up being more painful than heels.”
Adding the signature Birkenstock contour cork footbed should go a long way in making those styles more comfortable. However, the brand is also aware that a large portion of its following are outdoor-oriented consumers who care about more than comfort. That’s why, Shiblaq said, Birkenstock is planning on adding to the performance end of the footwear spectrum in April of next year with its “Active Adventure” collection too.
“We find that the Birkenstock consumer is already wearing their sandals either when they hike or go outside but the traditional Birkenstock isn’t built for that kind of wear,” she explained. “So, we’ve just made some simple—though complex—innovations that kind of take you a step up. For us, the outdoor consumer is already wearing our shoes, so how can we make [our products] better for them?”
Shiblaq said Birkenstock’s upcoming outdoor collection will still keep the cork footbed and looks very similar to the brand’s classic sandal. However, features like self-cleaning lugs on the sole, synthetic uppers and a footbed sewn directly into the sole will help the collection stand apart in terms of durability.