With too many casual styles, Soletrader struggles to inspire and its own brand is overpriced.
- Arndale Centre
With predominantly casual styles available, the key brands in Soletrader are the likes of Converse and Vans, with the men’s offer expanding to a decent selection of boots from Dr Martens to Timberland. The women’s offer is notably lacking in any evening styles, and in terms of trends only two items are notable: a brothel creeper with a ponyskin upper and some leather platform trainers. Sole, the men’s own brand, serves up some interest with quirky laces and patterns on the soles of brogues, but there is little product innovation in this store. Even the Converse range lacks the more exciting styles seen in Schuh and Office.
Men’s Converse and Skechers are around £49.99, matching the competition. Sole lace-ups at around £80 are beautifully made, while brogues go down to £64.99 and are well-structured as well as light, so a good investment. On women’s, platform trainers for £49.99 are not strong enough design-wise to beat cheaper alternatives and python-print slip-ons for £39.99 have very flat soles, although natural leather uppers. In general the prices are high and although quality is decent, it isn’t strong enough to justify the higher prices, especially given the limited range of designs.
Like Office, Soletrader fails to make clear what is men’s or women’s product. Worse still, I overheard two customers asking about this and watched the sales assistants check every pair, as they didn’t know either. Clearer merchandising would help. The store is also quite thin and a little dingy, with a lot packed in. When busy, browsing must be tricky.