The footwear industry has shifted. For so long, it was a two horse race between mass and designer markets, with little in between. However, in the last couple of years, a middle market has successfully broken into consumer awareness and in doing so has shaken up the entire market.
Recent news from the footwear market includes Kurt Geiger’s first quarter double digit e-commerce growth. Their model of premium-priced, design-led product has rocketed in the UK and their US expansion has been a great success – so much so that owners, Jones Group, are adding their other brands to Kurt Geiger stores in order to raise their profiles. Further evidence of an invigoration in the market comes from Jimmy Choo’s announced revamp of their global stores, following their internal staff reshuffle and unveiling of Nicole Kidman as face of the brand. And in an article we published last week, data revealed 8.7% of fast selling products in the 1st March-1st May period were footwear – the fourth largest category.
In this post, we’ll explore the current hottest trends in footwear, where high street retailers should head next and what’s in the longview for the market.
The it-bag is no longer the only accessory gaining cult status; for the last two years, some notable footwear styles have joined the seasonal lexicon. We’ve had the opinion-polarising flatform, the wedge-heeled wonders of the Isabel Marant sneaker and the widely adopted Chelsea boot. What are this season’s main contenders?
1. Slippers & loafers
Influenced by Louboutin’s studded velvet slippers for men in 2009, which were a hit with bloggers internationally, this trend has trickled down from luxury and now mass market are cashing in. New Look’s £12.99 Jagger slippers sold out on all sizes within a month of their late April arrival at ASOS.
Loafers have also proved popular and, when heeled, can boost their high street price point beyond that of the slipper. Topshop’s £65 Jansky mid-heeled loafer, is stand out in metallic silver and sold out within 10 days of its 14 March arrival in store. Topshop restocked in May, showing their continued support for the trend. At a premium price point, Tod’s £275 bi-coloured loafers have sold out and, some sizes even restocked since April. This trend is certainly seeing some success and there is still room for loafers to flourish across price ranges.
2. Dramatic wedge heels
Towering wedges of architectural proportions are big news on the high street right now. Topshop have succeeded with two styles; their Wendy Mega Espadrille at £60, restocked after the initial delivery sold out in two weeks of their 21st March arrival (and despite the catastrophic start to UK summer) and their £60 Western Multi Buckle Wedges, which, despite their peep toe, sold out of the majority of sizes within two months of their January arrival. A subsequent mid-March restock has sold out of four of seven sizes already. River Island are on their second stock of their £50 white platform wedges, having sold out of the first delivery within three weeks of their March arrival.
3. Platform pumps
Platformed pumps are selling well across designer and high street price points. Yves Saint Laurent’s $1,450 Tribute snakeskin pumps at Saks Fifth Avenue, have been repeatedly restocked since their initial introduction on the 12th March and although stock levels for this price point of shoe will be low, for some sizes, they’ve been restocked as many as six times! Dorothy Perkins acted swiftly to get a platformed pump of their own to market: their £65 nude peep toe pump arrived in store on the 13th April and was restocked mid-May.
4. Pointed courts
Pointed court shoes are selling well at mass market level. Topshop, Forever 21, River Island and New Look have all seen their versions, priced £14.90 – £58, restocked at least once. Forever 21’s cone heeled version arrived in store as recently as the 10th May and is already in their second restock. Sling backs and velvet fabrications are good directions to take this trend.
Using our commercial database, we were able to track these trends and see which retailers were adopting them in the online market. Zalando shows to be largest shoe stockist, with Tory Burch as the most-stocked label, followed by Pretty Ballerina and Burberry. Drilling into the product stats of footwear currently on the market, we can quickly see that the average price is £119, with the bulk of products sitting between £35 to £130. It takes on average 84 days for footwear to sell out and thereafter, 13% styles are restocked. Retailers may want to compare this to their own offering!
Based on the data collected, we’ve rounded up the safe bets for retailers next season. Looking to the new products arriving in store in May and priced over $500 (therefore identifying themselves as new designer arrivals) is a good way of preempting what will have filtered down to high street tastes in the coming months. On this basis, slippers and loafers look to be here to stay. Alexander McQueen, Lanvin and Guiseppe Zanotti are all extending their designer seal of approval with their May arrivals. Leopard print and sequin embellishments update the style for the next season.
Combining the current wedge and pointed court shoe trends, is the pointed-toe wedge, as shown by Burberry Prorsum’s £550 navy style in store at Selfridges. Pushing even further into Autumn/Winter are pointed-toe, wedge-heeled ankle boots, again from Burberry, and Tabitha Simmons. Though already commercial, these products are all in the early stages of their trend lifespan and so provide plenty of time for retailers to analyse their success.
And what of the future footwear stars, those not yet even available commercially? When analysed across the breadth of events, and with an impartial stance, runway coverage throws up the undercurrents of trends that designers have latched on to. Cutting the noise from biased print media, we instead focus on the raw evidence. Coming through from luxury for AW 13/14 are twisted shapes, curving around the foot or ankle. Asymmetric cuts and straps were shown by Alexander Wang and Christian Dior. Knee high, lace-up boots will also push through for AW 13/14, keep eyes on the styles from Vivienne Westwood and Elie Saab.