With Outdoor Retailer’s Summer Market taking place Aug. 3-6 in Salt Lake City, a bevy of fresh spring styles will be on display for all to see. Like much of the rest of the footwear industry, trends such as athleisure, denim and casual slides dominate. Unlike the rest of the footwear industry, these trends are paired with technical innovations that push them beyond fashion and into the realm of the outdoors. From fully waterproof leather to fly fishing-inspired boots, the brands at Outdoor Retailer represent a wide range of categories spanning a number of sports and activity-related interests.
Vamp caught up with several brands on what they’re showing for Spring ’17, and for their take on broader industry trends.
On what’s new for Spring ’17
“We’re focused on changing the leather sandal market. Some of the most successful products on the market haven’t changed in quite some time, but can be radically improved. So we focused on providing the most versatile possible leather sandal,” said Taylor Leopold, Reef sandal product line manager.
“We are really excited to launch our Original Universal Premier and bring back the Alp sandals from the 90’s. The Original Universal Premier maintains the brand DNA by staying true to everything that made the Teva Original sport sandal so special, while also incorporating enhancements that provide the consumer with versatility and next level comfort,” said Erika Gabrielli, Teva director of marketing.
Sanuk continues to evolve its women’s slide offering within its range of premium sandals. “The Gora Gora success from Spring 2016 has been updated to include a new textured, gored textile. We are also featuring a premium fashion pack with three new styles with ankle interest in high touch suedes, leather and crochet. Sanuk will also introduce a casual mule sneaker, the Dree Me Cruiser, in a soft, enzyme washed canvas upper with Yoga Mat comfort built into the footbed,” said Trisha Hegg, Sanuk vice president of global product.
“Our hand-crafted collection and a new relaunch of our men’s line, which is light, flexible, and water-ready, featuring vegan styles. [Our shoes] feature improved memory foam inner soles for extreme comfort and our unique all terra traction that transitions from indoors to outdoors,” said Yetzalee Mazza, Jambu marketing director.
On key trends in the outdoor market for Spring ’17
“The biggest trend we are seeing is ‘Sports Luxe’—sports-inspired designs using premium materials for all day wear. We also love how nautical stripes are being reimagined, as well as eclectic metallic mixes and tropical prints that take you from the beach to the bar,” said Dan Singer, Emu Australia president of North America.
“As outdoor enthusiasts continue to migrate to urban spaces, their need for light, versatile product is a prerequisite. They search for footwear that can travel and keep up with their fast pace. Flexible materials that showcase intricate patterns and curated details paired with engineered constructions and streamlined silhouettes. These innovative components work with evolving technologies to combat unpredictable environmental conditions,” said Nol Gerritse, Keen outdoor marketing director.
“Hues of navy, grey and nudes, with variations of slate and denim, and crimson is big again. White uppers offer a contemporary vibe that contrasts upper textiles and our signature motifs,” said Yetzalee Mazza, Jambu marketing director.
“For women, we are still seeing slide silhouettes as important, but with more emphasis on fashion with double strap slides and platform styles. Color is also very important with lots of vibrant reds, pinks and blues. We are also seeing the gladiator trend for women evolving from high placement on the leg to more about ankle interest with fuller coverage. Additionally, we are seeing the mule evolve and come into the cup sole/vulcanized world—it is like her favorite slide sandal that can also be worn as a sneaker,” said Trisha Hegg, Sanuk vice president of global product.
On the sports and outdoor activities gaining the most traction the marketplace
“It’s an exciting time where the outdoors is finding its way into urban spaces, and consumers surrounded by city-scapes are developing this strong urge to get outside. Where the two meet the result is a clear movement towards elevated levels of style and urban relevance, and exciting partnerships of style and performance that are at the heart of our versatile footwear,” said Nol Gerritse, Keen outdoor marketing director.
“Consumers are dipping into new territory and trying new things more than ever. Hybrids continue to build momentum, such as yoga/paddle. Combining sport is nothing new and its what started X Training and the X-fit boom,” said Carl Blakeslee, Woolrich creative director.
“We continue to see demand for versatility, particularly in shoes. Consumers want to go from casual wear to activities seamlessly, this is why we’ve continued to enhance our Arrowood collection with new product extensions like Swift and why the realignment of our sister brand, Ahnu, under Teva was a seamless transition for us,” said Erika Gabrielli, Teva director of marketing.
On growth in women’s footwear
“Absolutely true that the women’s business is growing and has been now for some time. More and more women are seeking the outdoors as their escape from urban complexities of life, and I think more and more women are looking to explore further and push each other as peer groups just to see how close to the edge they can go,” said Carl Blakeslee, Woolrich creative director.
“We’re seeing a huge shift towards the athleisure market. Women want to look good coming and going to their gym or studio and are continuing to wear their fitness leggings out to dinner, drinks or even to the office,” said Dan Singer, Emu Australia president of North America.
“A healthy, active lifestyle is a priority for Keen’s female fans, and as she continues to migrate to urban spaces, we need to deliver the gear that empowers her to get up and get outside in style. Outdoor fitness is a dynamic space where people are free to challenge themselves both physically and mentally. These insights led us to develop Terradora, and invite women all over to enjoy the places we play,” said Nol Gerritse, Keen outdoor marketing director.
On the popularity of sneakers, and what it means to traditional outdoor footwear
“For Jambu, the popularity of sneakers hasn’t hurt business. We’re known in the marketplace as the “all-in-one” shoe with traction tech that can conquer all terrain and all activities. Whether you walk, run, hike, or grab your yoga mat – it’s that shoe of choice that you want in more than one color,” said Yetzalee Mazza, Jambu marketing director.
“As an authentic casual footwear brand with authentic roots in the Australia beach/surf culture, we see this trend towards a more casual, everyday shoe as a good thing for our brand and strengthens our existing designs,” said Dan Singer, Emu Australia president of North America.
“This business is so cyclical that it would be foolish to say that one category’s success is hurting another, but consumer demand is certainly something to consider in regards to up or down cycles of product category performance. The renewed interest in athletic/fashion footwear has done a great deal to help energize the footwear industry as a whole, no matter the category. The cycle always comes back and if outdoor brand leaders continue to look at the sneaker market for inspiring shots of provocative energy, it can only help them to boost their own businesses,” said Carl Blakeslee, Woolrich creative director.
“Our consumers are looking for product that is versatile but doesn’t compromise on style. They want shoes that are trendy, yet functional and can be worn in both urban and natural landscapes, sometimes all in the same day. That’s why we are introducing product extensions to the Arrowood franchise. The Arrowood Swift sneaker features an adjustable neoprene upper that speaks to our water heritage, but with fashionable versatility that appeals to an urban consumer,” said Erika Gabrielli, Teva director of marketing.
On new technical innovations being debuted at Outdoor Retailer
“We will be introducing a new leather sandal, the Voyage LE, that features Reef’s signature Swellular technology. The Voyage LE fixes the two main issues we most commonly found in the leather sandal market. The first of which is the fact that leather sandals are far from water-friendly. We solved that by working with our best tanneries to develop durable yet comfortable waterproof leathers. By using waterproof leathers, the consumer doesn’t have to worry about getting their leather sandals wet, which makes this the perfect sandal to travel with. The next issue we solved was the break-in period that comes with leather sandals. The hot spots in current leather sandals are caused by poorly designed straps which rub against the top of the foot. We changed how leather straps are constructed, developing a three-layer strap that provides the consumer with superior comfort and no break-in period at all,” said Taylor Leopold, Reef sandal product line manager.
“Being an experienced fly fisherman my entire life and designing most of the Korkers footwear line, I brought that insight to our Woolrich sandals that I got directly from the fly-fishing world. The use of felt on the soles of wading boots inspired me to explore looking into adding a sort of fabric to the outsoles in combination with rubber. The idea not only looks provocatively cool, but it provides a no-slip feature to the already strong 4×4 lug pattern. These two technical advances have taken a basic flip flop to an off-road, adventure ready beast,” said Carl Blakeslee, Woolrich creative director.
“We’re continuing to focus on best-in-class comfort by building product with our FloatLite technology. FloatLite is a unique foam compound from Teva, providing incredible comfort and durability without adding weight. With FloatLite, we create lighter, more comfortable products than ever before. It’s featured in several of our new styles including Original Universal Premier, Alp Premier, Terra-Float sandals and the Arrowood Swift for spring,” said Erika Gabrielli, Teva director of marketing.