After almost two years of upheaval, trends in the footwear industry seem to be returning to normal.
Vendors at Magic and Project trade shows showcased everything from hiking boots to wedge heels at the Feb. 14-16 showcase at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The three-day Las Vegas event, which brings together buyers, brands and retailers, went virtual in February 2020 amid COVID-19 health concerns, but back live in August of 2021.
In general, vendors at the event showcased a throwback to pre-pandemic footwear trends, particularly in the evening and party categories. But the pandemic influences were still significant, which speaks to its everlasting impact on shoe styles. Specifically, the focus on comfort was ubiquitous across all brands. Many sellers also showcased styles that combine comfort and durability outside the home, emphasizing the dual needs of many consumers who still spend most of their time at home.
Here’s what some brand reps from the show had to say about their product lineup for 2022 and why comfort will be key to getting back to normal.
Emmie Graulich, Associate Account Executive, Franco Sarto/Caleres Inc.
Glamor, riding and menswear are the three biggest trends Franco Sarto expects to resonate this season, Graulich said.
The menswear trend will come in the form of a “British invasion” in the loafer category. Nightlife is an area that is picking up as more people return to parties and corporate life.
“You’ve got metals, sparkles, gold — just something to elevate people’s evenings in the fall of 2022,” Graulich said.
Despite the changes, comfort will remain key for Franco Sarto, whatever the occasion.
“In most of our shoes, we still have the comfort insoles where we do double padding,” Graulich said. “Before we even capture a trend, we try to make comfort come first, and then we’ll play in the trend.”
Edna De Pamphilis, Marketing Director, Lamo Sheepskin Inc.
Representatives from Lamo Sheepskin Inc. are taking a closer look at hiking, a category that has grown throughout the pandemic. At the same time, the brand is also focusing on its casual and lifestyle assortment, introducing corduroy in both men’s and women’s shoes for the first time this season.
The assortment is meant to represent a changing consumer who wants a hybrid between something durable but suitable for relaxing – or working – at home.
“We’re thrilled to be able to deliver silhouettes that really resonate with consumers, considering everything that’s going on in the world and back to work and all of that,” De Pamphilis said. “I think most of our silhouettes have this rugged outsole that can do both.”
Dave Moore, Vice President of Wholesale, Johnston & Murphy
Johnston & Murphy traditionally plays in the dress shoe category, but the brand has made some notable shifts towards casual athletics, especially with the recent introduction of its TR1-Sport hybrid shoe. This style represents a cross between a true athletic training shoe and something a little dressier.
“What’s a trainer that can actually be a real legit trainer that you can take to the workout room in the morning but then put on a pair of five-pockets and a great navy blue gym coat and have look amazing?” Moore said. “It’s kind of a do-it-all shoe for today’s busy individual and traveler who doesn’t want to have to manage two or three pairs of shoes where one can get the job done.”
The brand also kicked off a launch of hybrid golf shoes that can be worn on and off the course.
Bernie Richfield, Account Manager, Cougar Shoes Inc.
The footwear brand announced a variety of fur-lined slippers as well as more weather-specific styles. A slip-on shoe, Richfield said, was hugely popular during the early days of the pandemic — when people wanted something comfortable to wear while hanging out at home.
This need for simplicity and comfort has also permeated post-lockdown styles.
“COVID has changed a lot of things in different ways,” Richfield said. “Obviously the fact that people don’t go to work every day like they used to, commuting, going to offices and getting dressed. It’s a much more laid back society now and even when I go out to dinner at a nice restaurant, I don’t see people dressed like they used to, it’s a much more laid back and laid back atmosphere.
Veronica Esposito, Brand Manager and Vice President of Sales, Kenneth Cole
Kenneth Cole showed classic clothing styles as well as looks representing a cross between comfortable and active.
“What we saw as [the pandemic waned] was a real sartorial resurgence,” Esposito said. “But I think the difference is kind of the consumer’s desire to have a bit of that sneaker feel with the wearable component.”
She added, “Hybrid is still very important, although I think dress is definitely on the rise.”