The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

State & National News

November 15, 2013

WASHINGTON - Women's wingtips could curb shoe slump

Friday, November 15, 2013 — 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
State & National News
  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 15, 2014

  • E-Cigarettes target youth with festivals, lawmakers say

    WASHINGTON - The findings, in a survey released Monday by members of Congress, should prod U.S. regulators to curb the industry, the lawmakers said. While e-cigarettes currently are unregulated, the Food and Drug Administration is working on a plan that would extend its tobacco oversight to the products.

    April 15, 2014

  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 15, 2014

  • Millions of Android phones, tablets vulnerable to Heartbleed bug

    SAN FRANCISCO - Millions of smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system have the Heartbleed software bug, in a sign of how broadly the flaw extends beyond the Web and into consumer devices.

    April 13, 2014

  • DayCareCosts.jpg Day care's cost can exceed college tuition in some states

    Most parents will deal with an even larger kid-related expense long before college, and it's a cost that very few of them are as prepared for: day care.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stepping forward: The real Colbert

    Letterman changed the late-night TV game between his run on NBC's "Late Night" and starting the "Late Show" franchise in 1993. And while it's tough to replace a pop-culture icon, Colbert, in terms of pedigree and sense of humor, makes the most sense.

    April 12, 2014

  • Boston doctors can now prescribe you a bike

    The City of Boston this week is rolling out a new program that's whimsically known as "Prescribe-a-Bike." Part medicine, part welfare, the initiative allows doctors at Boston Medical Center to write "prescriptions" for low-income patients to get yearlong memberships to Hubway, the city's bike-share system, for only $5.

    April 12, 2014

  • Fast, cheap test can help save lives of many babies

    As Easley did more research into her daughter's death, she learned that a pilot program had started just months earlier at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md. (Easley had delivered at a different hospital in the Washington area.) The program's goal was to screen every newborn with a simple pulse oximeter test that can help detect heart problems such as Veronica's, allowing doctors to respond.

    April 10, 2014

  • 140407_GT_OUT_Forster_1.jpg Revolutionary War flag could fetch millions at auction

    MANCHESTER, MASS. - An iconic piece of history from the Revolutionary War is up for auction through Doyle New York, an auction and appraising company in New York City.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 2012_Mazda6_--_NHTSA.jpg Brakes, steering and...spiders? What's behind the latest auto recalls

    11 million vehicles have already been recalled in 2014 for everything from power steering failure to vulnerability to spider attack.

    Check out the full list of 2014 recalls.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content