Comfort is in the air — from aliment to appliance to footwear. While abundance shoes accept about conjured up images of antiquated orthopedic styles, the class has afresh taken a air-conditioned about-face as brands such as Crocs, Birkenstock and Dansko are accepting a nod from high-profile designers and retailers.
For bounce ’18, ready-to-wear designers Christopher Kane and Balenciaga put their circuit on Crocs styles, while fall ’17 saw sneaker bazaar Concepts coact with French cast Mephisto on a limited-edition collection. And Birkenstock took centermost date with its Barneys New York and Colette collaborations. “Leave it to Demna Gvasalia [Balenciaga’s aesthetic director] to booty article so pedestrian and accomplish it a must-have,” said Cleo Davis-Urman, contemporary appearance administrator for Saks Fifth Avenue, referring to the architecture house’s blinged-out belvedere at Paris Appearance Week. “While they absolutely aren’t for everyone, they admonish us that appearance could be fun and will undoubtedly be beat by the street-style set appear spring.”
For Niwot, Colo.-based Crocs, the accord opened up new design opportunities. “When Balenciaga approached us, we were intrigued by the befalling to advance the boundaries of our architecture and molding capabilities to see what we could actualize together,” said Michelle Poole, SVP of all-around artefact and marketing. “Working with Balenciaga has been so abundant fun for our aggregation and already afresh demonstrates the relevance of our iconic clog in today’s appearance and architecture world, as well as acceptance us to tap into the action and activity that comes from unexpected partnerships.”
Crocs isn’t the alone abundance cast that has bent the eye of designers. When New York-based ready-to-wear artist Jonathan Cohen was looking for a clog to accompaniment his bounce ’18 aerodrome collection, he found just the affair in Dansko’s Sonja, a atramentous apparent covering appearance he bought on Amazon.com. “We anticipation anon it would attending absolute with the [collection],” said Cohen of alive with his stylist. “We had planned to use it for one or two looks, but it kept alive with all of them. We even used it with black gowns.”
Cohen’s Dansko aces was as abundant about appearance as wearability. “We see our chump traveling, alive and [valuing] comfort,” he said. “She’s always attractive for that shoe that will be able to alteration from the office to a function. That did it for us.”
According to Cohen, his abrupt cossack best bent the attention of the appearance media. “Vogue wrote about it, and a lot of editors were really into it,” he noted. “Buyers additionally admired the idea. A lot were wearing clogs but said they never anticipation about a Dansko.”
While appearance buzz can be helpful, it’s appropriately important that the cast is authentic, according to Tiss Dahan, VP of business at Dansko. “Consumers are seeking the absolute accord and apperceive a cast like Dansko is accurate and comfortable. Whenever they airing into their doctor’s office, there’s a appealing acceptable chance they’ll see a assistant cutting our shoes. These bodies are on their anxiety all day, so they automatically anticipate there’s article to it.”
Ellen Sideri, architect and CEO of ESP Trendlab, a New York-based research and consulting firm, said the added action around comfort can be acquainted in abounding areas. “It’s growing above all sectors of fashion and footwear, fueled by the trend against athleisure, relaxed work styles as able-bodied as active convalescent lifestyles,” she said. “Being affectionate to your anxiety and alleviative them able-bodied is a new antecedence that goes beyond the pedicure. Therefore, it’s no abruptness that alternating choices like flats, Birkies, Dansko and Crocs are abstraction out new area in the consumer’s closet, demography the abode of aerial heels that annihilate and shoes that are beat alone for appropriate occasions.”
Few brands accept this bazaar about-face bigger than Birkenstock, which continues to advance in alluring appearance insiders. In accession to a range of artist and retail collaborations, this bounce the brand presented its aboriginal aerodrome show. “Brands like Birkenstock have gained a ample afterward with influencers,” said David Kahan, CEO of Birkenstock Americas in Novato, Calif. “It’s now above aloof a trend, one of the attenuate times in industry history back the demand is growing above assorted channels. It’s the Hollywood aristocratic like Julianne Moore, Leonardo DiCaprio, yet additionally teenagers and college students in Middle America.”
During New York Appearance Week, Barneys partnered with Birkenstock on “The Box,” a aircraft container-turned-pop-up abundance in the Meatpacking District featuring absolute styles from Birkenstock and other brands.“They are an abundantly accomplished aggregation and were willing to do things they hadn’t done before,” CEO Daniella Vitale told the WWD acme army aftermost week. The activity admiring both loyal Barneys shoppers and a host of new consumers.
Getting artefact in advanced of consumers generally starts with authoritative the right retail connections. For Santa Monica, Calif.-based banker and lifestyle cast Goop, founded by Gwyneth Paltrow, Birkenstock was a must-have in its shoe offering, according to Meredith Schroeder, affairs administrator of fashion, who added the cast for bounce ’17. “There’s been a clearing to accepting abundance as an important allotment of the footwear we abrasion every day,” she said. “The actuality that it additionally has a air-conditioned agency has been significant. It’s an important shoe to Gwyneth, so we capital to make abiding we accept it in our array back our chump gravitates toward it as well.”
Concepts admiral Tarek Hassan, who has collaborated with Birkenstock and Clarks, absitively to ability out to Mephisto. “[It’s] not every abundance cast but the accurate ones area it makes sense,” he said. “We [wanted] to go to adolescent consumers and explain what Mephisto is all about. We feel the chump would accept why stores such as Barneys New York or Concepts of the apple appetite to collaborate with them. It’s brands that break aural their lane.”
Hassan formed with the Mephisto aggregation in France on the update of its archetypal Match lace-up style. The aftereffect was an adapted adaptation in magenta and air-conditioned excellent that retailed for $375. Available on the Concepts website as able-bodied as its food in New York and Cambridge, Mass., it sold out of a few hundred pairs in beneath an hour, and Hassan acclaimed that a second accord is planned for abutting year for the Rainbow style.
While trend-driven retailers such as Cambridge-based Concepts are promoting comfort, the class charcoal the area of independent shoe stores. At absolute Soula of Brooklyn, N.Y., buyer Rick Lee noted: “People are attractive for shoes that are anatomic and comfortable [after] cutting sneakers,” he said.
John Holden, GM of fashion-comfort alternation Benjamin Lovell Shoes in Philadelphia, agreed there’s allowance at the table for lesser-known comfort brands. “A lot of [younger customers] accept been seeking Birkenstock, and we’ve been able to catechumen them into styles from comfort brands such as Taos, Earth and Vionic.”
The accepted democratization of the class is acceptable to accumulate the momentum going. “It’s not the earlier chump of the accomplished [with] foot problems,” said Sal Agati, Dansko’s EVP of all-around architecture and sourcing.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Iconic abundance brands have had added air-conditioned moments over the years. In abatement ’95, American ready-to-wear artist John Bartlett beatific models down the aerodrome in bright updates of Hush Puppies’ classic Earl, Wayne and Duke styles. And seven years later, Carrie Bradshaw angry on a whole new bearing to the Original Exercise sandals from Dr. Scholl’s back she wore them in “Sex and the City.”
According to Kerry Hartman, VP of all-around product for Hush Puppies in Rockford, Mich., Bartlett came to the company with the updating idea, which resulted in a co-branded collection. Today, the drive continues with the bounce ’18 launch of the Decades accumulating of limited-edition men’s styles that celebrate the brand’s 60-year heritage aggressive by pop culture and trends of the times.
“Decades is about authenticity and heritage, so we best the best classic reinvention of the Wayne, Earl and Duke application [similar] lasts and cheers to craft anniversary shoes,” said Hartman. “It’s [about] a new generation accepting to see us, not for our old abundance ancillary but our cheeky, colorful, air-conditioned side.”
For Dr. Scholl’s, a nod rom Sarah Jessica Parker’s famous TV appearance was enough to accelerate fashionistas clamoring for the sandal. “It’s our best iconic shoe and has enjoyed assorted peaks of high consumer absorption back it was created,” said Keith Duplain, SVP and GM. Afterward the TV episode, the cast saw increased sales, and the shoe returned to the forefront of appearance for the aboriginal time since the ’70s. “Since then, it has garnered absorption with editors and infl uencers alike, most afresh due to a 2016 collaboration with J.Crew,” he said.
Like Hush Puppies and Dr. Scholl’s, Clarks has racked up its allotment of buzz. In 1993, the brand appeared on the Wu-Tang Clan’s admission album, “Enter the 36 Chambers,” anniversary member wearing a brace of the Clarks Originals Wallabee, sparking young consumers to embrace the look. This year, the British brand collaborated with hip-hop artist Drake and his OVO record label on a collection, introducing yet addition bearing to the classic abundance style.
“Clarks Originals was formed around two capital icons, the Desert Boot and Wallabee, but has broadcast into sport, dress and accidental categories,” said SVP of business Tara McRae regarding the Desert Boot, which aboriginal appeared at the 1949 Chicago Shoe Fair, and the Wallabee, alien in the ’60s. “They accept both been popular cross-generationally as they are rediscovered and fabricated new for younger consumers.
“Collabs with tastemakers like OVO, Supreme and Kith allow for Clarks Originals to reach addition subset altogether — the chump who wants what’s new and absolute but understands [both] are icons in their own right. They don’t want a knockoff adaptation from another brand; they appetite the original.”