If my inbox is anything to go by, it appears my article about the dearth of innovation in men’s footwear got some of you rather hot under the collar.
I bemoaned the lack of true development in this area as styles stagnate or at the very most get tarted up with new colours, in the same way, say, you might respray your car - it looks sort of new for a bit but it’s still the old banger underneath. Obviously these are generalisations and there is a significant pocket of exceptions to my rule but, a week after our high street footwear Hit or Miss and in the issue that celebrates our Footwear & Accessories Awards winners, it seems timely to address one of the issues my correspondents raised.
Speaking to the passionate Diego Vanassibara, who launched his eponymous high-end footwear brand at London Collections: Men last season, his frustration comes from something I touched on last week in this column: the reluctance of buyers to take a risk on a new brand, especially one offering something as distinctive as his.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel. As we reported last week, men under 25 are spending less money on brands because the likes of Topman and Asos provide better value fashionable clothes and footwear. Yes, price is the driving force behind this trend. But if these shoppers aren’t brand-loyal when they get older and have more cash to splash, the reason they’ll pick one shoe (or, for that matter, any other type of fashion item) over another is for its visual appeal and quality, not just because their favourite brand has stuck a label in it.
In turn, this adjustment in men’s values should at least nudge the branded buyers into considering labels that offer something that stands out, rather than the same old stuff from the same old brands. It’ll take time, but perhaps finally men are getting up to speed with the female shopping sophisticates.