Zionsville Times Sentinel

Community News Network

November 14, 2013

Women's wingtips could curb shoe slump

WASHINGTON — Wingtips aren't just for men anymore.

Retailers such as Saks and Barneys New York are selling women scores of men's dress shoe styles redesigned with different proportions or new materials. The footwear - think embellished smoking slippers and python-skin Derby flats - is fetching prices more typical of high-fashion stilettos than casual oxfords, helping chains boost sales in an area where growth was flagging.

"I love that kind of gender-bender look," said Christy McCampbell, 60, a law-enforcement consultant in Washington who recently bought three pairs of brogues, including a $1,200 pair of black Pradas with white trim. "You are not teetering in stiletto heels and yet you still look good."

Shoemakers and stores could use the boost from shoppers like McCampbell after cold weather in the spring and a general pullback in spending on non-essential items left shelves full of sandals, forcing them to take markdowns that crimped profit. Sales growth in the $23.5 billion U.S. women's fashion shoe segment was 2.8 percent in the 12 months ended in September, compared with a 4.8 percent increase for handbags, according to researcher NPD Group Inc.

Incorporating men's styles helps women's luxury shoe designers drive sales by broadening out their narrow collections, said Roseanne Morrison, fashion director at trend forecaster Doneger Group in New York.

"How many designer shoes with six-inch spikes does a store sell to a customer?" Morrison said. "Maybe one a season. The girl usually picks out that one shoe that she wants to wear with a special dress. When you have a wider range of shoes, it opens a wider opportunity for multiple sales."

The fashion houses have rendered the men's styles more feminine with tweaks such as more-pointed toes or higher heels. Each of the traditional men's shapes now comes in a wide variety for women, with oxford shoes, for example, available anywhere from dancing-shoe types to clunky versions that look nun- inspired. Their creators use materials including animal skins as well as embellishments like embroidery and studs that few men would wear.

Saks's lineup includes patent leather and velvet jeweled oxfords from Dolce & Gabbana for $1,195. Barneys features "distressed" laceless Marsell versions at $665. Christian Louboutin, renowned for platform stilettos, created a $1,495 python pointed-toe Derby flat, with his signature red sole. A pair of "Lorenza" $765 wingtips in perforated brown leather comes from Manolo Blahnik, widely regarded as a master of feminine shoes.

Stubbs & Wootton produces its iconic smoking slipper for women in "camo" needlepoint for $400. Bottega Veneta sells a brogue-style ankle boot with a dramatic 5-inch heel, for $950.

J.M. Weston, the French luxury men's shoemaker, introduced its first shoes designed especially for women in late September. The seven styles, created by men's shoe designer Michel Perry, include a moccasin in cognac and burgundy and are priced as high as 700 euros ($943).

"What looks so great is that there are so many different kinds of men's shoes: it's about the brogue, the loafer, the double monk, the Chelsea boot," said Elizabeth Kanfer, Saks's senior fashion director for accessories. "It's definitely different for us; traditionally we sell pretty shoes."

The trend originated as a street look that designers latched onto and at first was more about the kind of slipper that playboy Hugh Hefner has paired with his bathrobe, said Stuart Weitzman, a shoe designer whose company is owned by Jones Group Inc. Then it spread quickly to the other men's shoe styles and to multiple fashion shows, he said in a telephone interview.

"It keeps the category alive," Weitzman said. "It gives a fresh reason to buy."

Taylor Swift, Kate Moss, and Diane Kruger are among the celebrities spotted wearing such styles.

This isn't the first time men's influences have stormed women's fashion - strong-shouldered women's suits dominated the 1980s. This latest reprise is part of a multiyear androgynous phase in clothing. Many women have adopted men's styles such as motorcycle jackets, button-down shirts and cross-body bags, in part because of their practicality.

"Comfort is part of it," Morrison said. "It is the pendulum swing, it's the overreaction to the super-high heels."

Saks, based in New York, trained its sales associates to show customers how to incorporate the new shoes into their wardrobes, Kanfer said.

"We had to support the education around the trend," she said. "Customers were used to year after year of platforms."

The experts say the new look isn't going away any time soon.

              

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Who should pay for your kids ACT?

    Thirteen states paid for 11th-grade students in all public high schools to take the ACT college admission test this year, with several more planning to join them in 2015.

    August 20, 2014

  • Pets.jpg Why do people look like their pets?

    As much as we might quibble over the virtues and vices of Canis domesticus, however, and over whether human nature is any better or worse than dog nature, even dog fanciers don't usually want to look like a dog.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Africa goes medieval in its fight against Ebola

    As the Ebola epidemic claims new victims at an ever-increasing rate, African governments in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have instituted a "cordon sanitaire," deploying troops to forcibly isolate the inhabitants in an area containing most of the cases.

    August 18, 2014

  • Democrat? Republican? There's an app for that

    If you're a Republican, you might want to think twice before buying Lipton Iced Tea, and forget about Starbucks coffee. If you're a Democrat, put down that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and throw away the cylinder of Quaker Oats in your pantry.

    August 18, 2014

  • Five myths about presidential vacations

    In the nuclear age, presidents may have only minutes to make a decision that could affect the entire world. They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go.

    August 15, 2014

  • Can 6 seconds launch a career? A generation of Vine stars sure hopes so.

    A year ago, Shawn Mendes filmed himself singing a tentative acoustic cover of the Justin Bieber song "As Long as You Love Me" and put the results on Vine. He wasn't expecting much response. "I didn't really want anything to happen; I just kind of wanted to see what people would think," says Mendes, 16. "I posted that first Vine and woke up the next morning with 10,000 followers. That was pretty cool."

    August 14, 2014

  • Freshman.jpg 8 crucial tips for college freshmen

    With school starting back up around the country, no one has a bigger deer-in-the-headlights look than college freshmen.

    August 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • A night in Ferguson

    For the past week in Ferguson, reporters have been using the McDonald's a few blocks from the scene of Michael Brown's shooting as a staging area. Demonstrations have blown up each night nearby.

    August 14, 2014

Order Times Sentinel photos


Photos from August 2014

Facebook
Twitter Updates
AP Video
Obama: World Is Appalled by Murder of Journalist Israel, Militants Trade Fire After Talks Fail Pres. George W. Bush Takes Ice Bucket Challenge Pierce Brosnan's Call to Join the Expendables Changes Coming to No-Fly List Raw: IDF Footage Said to Show Airstrikes Police: Ferguson More Peaceful Raw: Aftermath of Airstrike in Gaza Raw: Thousands March on Pakistani Parliament Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan Fire Crews Tame Yosemite Fire Raw: Police Weapon Drawn Near Protesters, Media Raw: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape Texas Gov. Perry: Indictment 'a Political Act' US Officials: Video Shows American's Beheading Video Shows Ferguson Cop Months Before Shooting Water Bottles Recalled for Safety Researcher Testing On-Field Concussion Scanners
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide