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Editor's Comment: Footwear's finest step up to market challenges

Keely Stocker

When market conditions are tough, it is never more important to take time to celebrate the achievements, innovations and businesses pushing forward through turbulent waters. 

This week we took the opportunity to do just that at the Drapers Footwear Awards 2019

Celebrating the best that the footwear sector has to offer across brands, high street players and independents, it was an evening to recognise the best of the best.

The footwear sector, like the rest of the fashion industry, is constantly evolving and changing faster than ever before. Market research agency Mintel predicts the UK footwear market will be worth £15.6bn by 2023 and its pace of growth is currently outperforming fashion as a whole.

Brands have to be agile and fleet of foot to respond to changing consumer demands, and to surprise and delight shoppers with new product collections. The footwear brands that have stood the test of time are those constantly reinventing themselves, while retaining their core DNA, such as Dr Martens, where group revenue jumped by 20% to £348.6m for the full year to 31 March 2018.

Meanwhile, new players are entering the market. Contemporary accessory labels such as Manu Atelier and Aeyde are taking their first steps into footwear, and expanding their audience reach through the introduction of new lines. We’re also increasingly seeing more and more collaborations which can bring a fresh take to collections.

Although we have noticed a return to more traditional footwear styles, there is still an abundance of sport styles – and this looks set to remain prominent. New labels are also entering this sector, such as Veja which is taking on the sportwear giants with its sustainable collections.

Sustainability is becoming a core focus for all fashion businesses and footwear is no exception. So it is good to find greater use of environmentally friendly materials and ethical trading practices across the sector.

There is much innovation to be found in the footwear sector and plenty to celebrate. A huge congratulations to all of the Drapers Footwear Awards 2019 winners.

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