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Vogue Says Selling Footwear is About Lifestyle Over Value

When Balenciaga presented platform clogs in collaboration with Crocs last February, the French label wasn’t asking fashion to accept the polarizing shoes—it was telling it to. The clogs subsequently sold out before they even hit stores.

It’s that level of confidence that Sara Andrade, Vogue Portugal online publisher, said more footwear brands need to adopt rather than chasing every trend.

“Be the fashion trend, don’t integrate them,” Andrade said at 20th UITIC International Technical Footwear Congress in Porto, Portugal Thursday. “Be a leader and tell people what they want.”

Andrade’s advice runs counter to the buzz surrounding personalization and customization, but it works for Vogue, which has become a global authority in fashion and media by staying laser sharp on quality content.

Quality, Andrade said, never goes out of style, especially in footwear. “Always choose quality over quantity. That’s what we do at Vogue. We may not speak to the masses, but we are niche and we know our audience,” she said.

So much so, that Andrade said the publication no longer feels the need to use traditional cover lines to promote what’s inside. “People will buy Vogue because they bought it before. They don’t need to know what’s inside to know that it is something they want,” she said. “Our readers believe in the quality of our content.”

That’s not to say there’s isn’t a touch of strategy behind Vogue’s decision to eliminate cover lines. If the popularity of social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have revealed anything, it’s that millennials are drawn to photo-driven content. It would be advantageous, she said, for brands, be it a magazine or shoes, to follow those cues from consumers.

“You have to go to what your audience wants,” Andrade said. “If you have a popular silhouette, maybe do it in vegan leather. Introduce some kind of novelty to your product.”

Once you have the trend, communicate it in a way that will appeal to your target customer and distance yourself from the competition, Andrade advised. Communication is no longer about value of product, but the lifestyle the product sells and that will appeal to customers.

“Don’t communicate that you have a sandal. Communicate that your selling an afternoon stroll on the beach, a pool party or lifestyle your target audience wants,” she said. “When I buy a shoe, I’m not just buying a shoe. I’m buying the person I want to be when I wear those shoes and the lifestyle it represents to me.”