Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Top Ten Shoes: Summer 2006

Okay folks, Labor Day has passed, summer is done so I'm going to list what I think were the top ten footwear brands during summer 2006. Please note: There is no factual basis to this list. I did not refer to any data reports or anything like that. This is strictly based on what I’m hearing from my sources and observing while out and about in New York City.

It should also be noted that this list mainly applies to sporty footwear trends. I have a hunch that Manolo is dead these days, but I’m not really sure and what faster way to make an ass of oneself that pontificating on a topic one knows nothing about?

Also note, while sell-through rate (a percentage that indicates how fast a style or brand is selling over a given period of time) of certain styles may still outsell every other style in the store, I’m not including any style whose momentum is on the decline. In other words, I’ll include a super hot shoe that’s blowing out the doors of ten boutiques before I do a style that sells great, but is clearly coughAirForceOnecough in decline.

Finally, for all you readers out there who shop strictly in the boutiques, I'm guessing you're going to read this list and wonder how much CRACK I smoke per day. Listen, I'm aware of how hot certain limited edition styles are, but I'm trying to take a bigger picture outlook. And again, even if a style was hot this summer, if it was hotter last summer, it can't be on my list.

So here goes:

1. Vans slip-ons: When it looked like the canvas trend was dead, Vans arrived on the scene and injected new life into the category. You name the hot celeb and he is probably wearing a pair of Vans.

^^Samuel Jackson has his Vans on.

2. Crocs Cayman: Love them or hate them, everyone is wearing them. A niche opened this past spring for a shoe that took the fun and comfort of flip-flops, but upgraded them to something more closed-up and thus more versatile and appealing to both children and the fellas, and CROCS fit the bill perfectly.

^^Whadya wanna bet this guy, who I recently photographed dispensing change at Coney Island, was wearing sneakers last summer?

3. Reissued 90s Nike Air: I just purchased a pair of Nike Stab so that’s part of the reason Nike is getting the No. 3 slot, but in my recent visits to various and sundry New York sneaker boutiques over the past few days, I’ve asked and have been told that for the trendsetters, it’s the Air—especially Air Max 95--product that’s been the most popular with trendsetters.
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^^My new Nike Stabs. I bought them at Jean Stop (511 5th Ave., Brooklyn, 718-499-0159), a great local shop that serves up a great selection of sneakers without a lick of pretension. As you can see, my Stabs already have a smudge on the front part of the right shoe. Bummer.

4. Jordan sandals: I'm told by retailers that these basically blew out of their stores. In addition to the slides linked here, there were also some flip-flop type sandals, which I saw at the beginning of th summer.

5. Sebago boat shoes: The brand has great, updated top-to-bottom designs. And no, boat shoes weren't all that big this summer, but my hunch is that the trend was in simmer mode this summer and will go into full boil next year.

^^Recent Sebago ad featured in Footwear News magazine

6. Under Armour football cleats: They blew out of stores. I have a hunch that by the time this brand’s footwear line is running on all four engines, in will right in synch with a brighter day for athletics.

^^While the World Cup helped perk up soccer cleat sales, it was Under Armour football cleats that scored the most points with retailers.

7. Heelys: I’m hesitant to include this "shoe" (for those not in the know, this is the brand name of those sneakers with the wheels built into the bottoms) because the feedback I’ve received on it has been positive for so long that I have to believe a downside is on the horizon. News to note: this company just announced that it's getting ready to go public.

8. CR8TIVE RECREATION: The darling of the boutiques, the owners of this company are nobody’s fools (both of them once worked for VANS) and they’re as focused on good design as they are on slowly and carefully expanding the brand’s distribution. Make note though, this is more of a boutique brand for the metrosexual guy than it is for the Nike-loving urban guy.

9. NIKE REAX: This shoe is a takedown of Shox and saw a very successful launch in the family/value channel during July. This is the payback shoe for when this channel had to sit and watch mall and performance get rich off of Shox. The question is, does it have legs next spring? I’ll say this, of all the styles listed here, due to the quickness with which the Reax was included in buy-one-get-one-half-off sales, this one was the one I most hesitant to include.

10. Adidas Adicolor: I didn't like this program for the most part because I thought it was a rehash of the 35th Anniversary offerings, but there's no denying that many of the shoes in the Adicolor Group, especially Tron, saw brisk sales.

^Adidas Adicolor Tron

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