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Comfort footwear slips into something stylish

The mainstream footwear market is hungry for trend-led styles and innovative materials as female shoppers in the comfort market become more style conscious.

According to retailers polled for this week’s Drapers Indicator survey, 37% of female shoppers are opting for style over comfort when it comes to mainstream footwear and an increasing number want more youthful, trend-led styles.

Although comfort-led footwear is still core to the mainstream market, retailers called on brands to include choices that ticked style boxes as well as comfort.
Established mainstream footwear brands such as Rieker and Josef Seibel were the bestsellers, according to the survey, while El Naturalista and Caprice were cited by retailers as brands that offered a good selection of fashionable styles.

Jan Arbuckle, owner of AC Gillespie in Denny, Scotland, said: “Women want younger, modern styles that look great. They don’t like to feel old, and now there is a wider choice of stylish footwear in wider fittings which means they are able to wear more modern styles.”

Peter Broadberry, owner of Broadberry Shoes in Finchley, north London, added: “Our female customers are looking for something a bit younger, but we are still selling the comfort [styles]. Some of the brands have been fairly ordinary, but we’re bringing in Rohde and Rieker, which offer more exciting styling.”

Danish comfort brand Ecco has developed a sub-brand called Lite while German comfort brand Josef Seibel has launched a collection called Spirit of Nature, offering customers the opportunity to diversify beyond the core product range.

Mark Bates, director of Bawtry Shoe Company in Bawtry, South Yorkshire, said: “These [sub-brand] styles are selling to a younger customer. Older customers are now after younger product. It’s a trend that’s been building for the past 18 months, but it’s really hit home in the past six months.”

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