Sneakers! Mules! Over the Knee Boots! Ankle Booties! Over the past few years it seems that every fashion conversation starts and ends with footwear. Today we build our wardrobe around what we have on our feet so it’s no surprise that specialty apparel retailers have taken note and have added footwear to their assortment.
Footwear in Canada is outperforming and growing 3X faster than the apparel industry. So when growth is being sought out, it seems like a natural approach to expand into footwear.
The thing is, the footwear market is evolving faster than the apparel Industry and the growth is being driven by consumer demand and a growing tendency to “see now, buy now”. Footwear is now about how fast can you produce the must have shoe that was just seen on the runways or on the top coveted influencer. A movement that was coined “fast fashion” in the apparel industry has hit the footwear industry. This “fast fashion” is the outcome of consumer demand and is driven by the expectation of having what they want when they want it.
In today’s footwear market, if you missed the shoe of the season you might have missed the season, and catching the trend at the tail end of the cycle can result in big markdowns, or the dreaded look of being stale and passé.
This past August I walked the FN PLATRFORM show in Las Vegas, scouting what the brands had to offer and what occurred was every brand had the same 4 styles: the minimalist sneaker, the slide, the mule and the open toe ankle bootie.
And for those stand out brands that were showing something new and were keeping up with what the “influencers” were wearing…I wanted it right now! Traditionally the footwear that was being shown in August at Platform would only hit the stores in the spring. So how fast does fast footwear need to be to keep up with consumer demand? And why is the industry working on a cycle that is behind the cycle demanded by the consumer?
If these traditional footwear manufacturers cannot keep up with demand, then the apparel specialty stores might just be able to steal some of the share.