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Leslie Gallin on Emerging Brands and Celebrating FN Platform’s Fifth Year

Since FN Platform launched five years ago, the footwear world has transformed from a market in recovery that relied too heavily on proven (a.k.a. basic) styles to generate sales, into an industry invigorated by new retail concepts, a younger consumer base and a return to quality footwear.

At the center of these widespread highs and lows, FN Platform, led by Leslie Gallin, the president of footwear for Advanstar Global, has become a meeting point twice a year for the industry to regroup, recharge and start each new season on the right foot.

As the show celebrates its fifth anniversary Feb. 17-19, FN Platform will get a refresher of its own with redesigned lifestyle lounges, a robust seminar schedule, and healthy growth across all categories.

Vamp caught up with Gallin, who shared the brands, trends and retailers on her radar, and why she’s optimistic that FN Platform’s fifth year will also be a good year for the industry.

What was an industry highlight in 2014?
Gallin: One would have to be the re-launch of WSA [an Advanstar property], because turning it into a fast fashion show has really put us out in front of the curve. There’s so many statistics that show fast fashion is out performing other markets as a whole. Plus, it is a category that is selling right off the shelf at opening price. Only 19 percent of that type of product goes on sale.

Name a retailer to watch in 2015.
Gallin: Holt Renfrew. That is a retailer that is really dedicating a great effort and you’ll see more from them all the way into 2016.

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Name a brand to watch in 2015.
Gallin: Aquatalia, and the reason being is that Jimlar has purchased the company. I think you are about to see the next Coach, now that the brand has the support of Jimlar. Another brand is Pikolinos. There’s a lot more attention being paid to quality leather and Pikolinos is interesting because the brand has their own tannery in Spain and own vegetable dying techniques.

What are the top Fall ’15 footwear trends for men and women?
Gallin: That conversation has been going back and forth, but I think distressed booties or some kind of low boots will branch across both environments for men and women.

What hurdles will the footwear industry face in 2015?
There are a couple of things. We’re still looking for a breakout trend. And we’re trying to navigate omnichannel. People are bullish on the future. Economic indicators are somewhat stable and they have been going in the right direction for the last year, but people are still waiting it out to see how it affects the industry.

What are you optimistic about in 2015?
Gallin: I think we are seeing growth coming out of Europe. There are some wonderful brands that at one time participated in the U.S., left the market and have now came back——especially in men’s and children’s.

What is your favorite shoe purchase you made this season?
Gallin: Probably a pair of Manolo [Blahnik] because they fit my feet so well, and its was something unique with blue and navy. But I’m a tester. I’m fickle. I have my favorites, but I like to try new brands.