I was driving along the other day listening to the radio and “It’s all about the Bass” by Meghan Trainor was playing, which even at my age, I quite enjoyed. This got me thinking, what are shoes all about. Firstly we all think about the upper design and the lovely soft leather or the colour of the product, even in some cases the fit of the shoe, the sole is probably the last thing you think about.
Well, I think we are wrong. I think the sole is the most important part of any fashion shoe. If you think back what do you remember about Elton John’s boots in “Pinball Wizzard “ The colour… No….. the platform sole! What about Stilettos, it wasn’t about the court shoe or the boot on these heels it was all about the heels and toe shapes. Let’s move on Dr:Martens, didn’t matter if they were black or crazy tartan they had to have the sole. Then we had Kickers. Again it was that sole unit. Let’s move into the 21st century and it’s still there, Nike trainers they have to have some crazy sole or what about the Fitflop….Shall I stop or do i need to carry on?
To confirm my suspicions I have talked to few shoe designers and guess where they start their design? Sole units. They spend hours looking at various sole profiles making sure they are exactly what they want then they design the uppers to fit the sole units.
Next stop was this season’s boots and analysing sales compared to the sole units. The results are quite staggering. I have spoken to many retailers and suppliers and the vast majority of best sellers have interesting sole units. The cleated sole unit is very popular this season but it’s the styles that have a slightly alternative version that are selling rather than the traditional. Western heeled boots with a slight twist have good sales figures or the work boot styles with detail around the heel area. If you look at this month’s best selling brands they are all suppliers who spend time on detailed sole units. You only have to look at Rieker and you can see why they are the top selling brand. They pick up on these details and produce them at competitive prices.
Please don’t think I am talking about all types of product. I quite understand there are lots of brands whose fit is by far its main USP (Unique Selling Point). Others will be completely on price points, but in my view, if you want to increase trade you need to be looking at more commercial product. All ladies, whatever age, want to look younger and more fashionable and it is our job as independent retailers to make sure we are offering different product. Ten years ago we had some excellent brands offering these customers exactly what they wanted. Now, the customer has moved on, but sadly these brands haven’t. So, if you don’t want to get left behind, you need to look seriously at introducing new and more contemporary brands who are investing in new designs, especially the sole units. They are out there, all you have to do is agree to look when that agent or rep you have never heard of rings and tries to introduce you to the future of the shoe trade. It might be the best hour you spend in the next 6 months. Alternatively break with tradition and go to Moda next February and don’t just look at the brands you are already selling, look at all the brands you think are far too young for your business. You might surprise yourself . PULL Quote I think the sole is the most important part of any fashion shoe. If you think back what do you remember about Elton John’s boots in “Pinball Wizzard “ The colour… No….. the platform sole!