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GDS Preview: Designing Under the Influence of Bloggers and Athleisure

The footwear sector is known for its traditions——florals for spring and blaming the weather for everything are some favorites——but Kirsten Deutelmoser, director of GDS and Tag It, said next fall is about radically breaking with conventions in both fashion and selling methods.

“The key word is: emancipate everything,” Deutelmoser stated. Buyers will get a first look at this wave of change at the next edition of GDS in Dusseldorf, Germany Feb. 10-12.

The demand for versatile, seasonless designs has led to the popularity of hybrid footwear, or Frankenstein styles that combine the best of dress, casual and athletic. “Designers invent hybrid shoe models for almost every occasion,” Deutelmoser said, noting that there’s a sneaker for just about every casual or formal occasion. The category is expected to grow as gender becomes less of a factor in design. Additionally, the new season will see bohemian elements blended with modern silhouettes, and a new breed of soles, aka “sandwich soles”, which combine different materials within several layers.

Other visual details to watch include gleaming surfaces, leather braiding, patchwork, stitching and luxurious materials like linen, silk and cashmere. Color stories are either warm with beige, caramel, red and orange tones, or cool and clean with pastels and gray. Deutelmoser added, “Everything must be expressive.”

Kirsten Deutelmoser, director of GDS and Tag It

“Fashion is a very democratic subject these days,” she said. It was just a couple of years ago when an elite group of fashion magazines set the trends. Brilliant designers and new talent still set the trends, however, Deutelmoser pointed out, “Times changed and fashion became more livable and tangible. As we see in social media, bloggers and celebrities become very strong influencers because young people can freely access news day and night.”

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In other words, Deutelmoser said we are experiencing the “Instagrammization” of the footwear sector, a term which she said is a very suitable neologism for what happens in social media right now. “Social media is a very visual tool. It’s all about stunning pictures, everything is over aestheticized,” she described. “Basically I think that there has been a fundamental shift in the media landscape and communication tools. This contributes to a brighter and democratic perception of fashion.”

GDS dedicates a whole day of the show to fashion bloggers. “We are well aware that bloggers are up-to-date and always well connected. It is obvious that bloggers are gaining importance within companies’ marketing,” Deutelmoser explained.

In cooperation with online fashion magazine Styleranking, the forthcoming GDS will present the third edition of FashionBloggerCafé Shoedition, a networking event for bloggers to exchange ideas, talk trends and be hands-on with product. Other activities are also in the pipeline, including the Blogger Runway Show, which will send models styled by bloggers Sylvia and Julia Haghjoo from blogs HUG YOU and N°93 in Fall ’16 footwear.

Consumers are online reading about fashion, and they want to stay online to buy it. As Deutelmoser pointed out, “As we have seen the last 10 years were all about digitalization, about development in retail, about going forward.” She added that the footwear industry somehow missed out on the e-commerce boom. “There is a structural change going on in the footwear sector. E-commerce is gaining market shares rapidly and successfully. Online stores are very quick in adjusting and fulfilling their customers’ desire, thus stationery retailers have to reach out to the target groups on every possible channel,” she explained.

Change isn’t limited to just trends and retail. GDS has had to adapt to new buying schedules and retailer demands. The February show will be the fourth since rolling out an updated format and moving up show dates, and Deutelmoser reported that feedback is positive. Visitor satisfaction at GDS in July 2015 was 93 percent, and retailers praised the show for being a good market and collection overview. Meanwhile, 80 percent of polled visitors said they use GDS as a source of information in order to start the new season well-prepared.

“I can say that our brand portfolio is very international. We have a nice mixture of brands from all over the globe and the most important German brands on the market,” Deutelmoser said. One half of registered visitors are from Germany and the other half is from all over the world. The show is seeing especially high demand from Turkey on both the exhibitor and visitor side.

The February edition will welcome new exhibitors, including Miista, Timberland, Ten Points and Est1842, and will welcome back Kenneth Cole, G-Star, Oliver Sweeney and more. The show will also expand its focus on 3-D technologies and how digital and real life shopping experiences intermingle. Deutelmoser added, “This zeitgeist theme also has inspirations on topics like sustainable materials and wearables in store. This will definitely be very inspirational and visionary.”