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Sole Searching

We take a stroll down the high street to find out how the women's footwear multiples have interpreted key trends for spring 07

CONTEMPORARY

DUNE

TRENDS

From rainbow-coloured wedges, courts and pumps to glossy heels and co-ordinating handbags, Dune continues to work its classic polished, dressed-up signature. Wooden and cork platform heels, peep-toe styles and nude leather are an obvious nod towards catwalk trends, but this is kept in check and never moves too far into the territory of stores that replicate trends look for look. Key designs include a white leather and raffia wedge with laser-cut detailing and a cork-heeled T-bar slingback in neutral textured leather.

RIGHT FOR THE MARKET?

Dune's design team deserves a big pat on the back. The spring 07 range focuses on both the key seasonal looks and the retailer's own brand of funky working girl style. This will not only help to attract shoppers who may have shunned the slick party-inspired offer in the past, but will also keep regular customers in the fashion loop. Those who haven't stepped into a Dune lately will be impressed.

KURT GEIGER

TRENDS

In a season where trends have not moved on very far, Kurt Geiger has stamped its unique signature on the emerging looks. In the Fashionistas range, Perspex conical heels mirror the futuristic trend, while multi-strap styles in contrasting fabrics have a warrior-like feel. Wedges continue to feature in the mainline and are best with leopard print goatskin heels or in metallic finishes, alongside jewel embellishments. KG focuses on patent platforms or hole-punched and laser-cut wedges, plus soft neutral-coloured leather with cork platforms.

RIGHT FOR THE MARKET?

Aside from the more directional styles, which will no doubt encourage spending among the retailer's girl-about-town devotees, the Kurt Geiger brands are careful not to turn their backs on the core working-girl customers. Patent courts and peep toes should keep its core shoppers happy, as will the satin strappy evening shoes with gold heels, jewelled thong sandals and pumps.

OFFICE

TRENDS

Colourful ballet pumps, pointy flats and jazz shoes reference 1980s Flashdance styles, as do slouchy long or ankle-length flat boots and stilettos with quirky floral or tropical motifs. But there are also gladiator-style and rope-fastening sandals to break the 1980s monotony. The best looks include a gold leather platform sandal with ankle strap, a mushroom-coloured ankle-strap sandal with low wedge heel, and a metallic turquoise platform with cork sole.

RIGHT FOR THE MARKET?

Unfortunately, Office has alienated its core customer base with this complacent collection - the disappointingly one-sided range will only do well if every customer wants to relive the 1980s. Many styles look and feel cheap, but will doubtless be available elsewhere at a fraction of the price. It's not good enough to just refresh last season's styles in neon brights.

BERTIE

TRENDS

Bertie hints at the 1980s trend with pink, yellow and blue pointed pumps and round-toe courts, but generally opts for more demure looks. Stand-out styles include black and putty-coloured wedges and square-toe platforms with a conical wooden heel. The range is not as strong as last season, but there are a few winning reworkings of classic looks such as ballet pumps with bauble details.

RIGHT FOR THE MARKET?

Bertie introduces on-trend styles while appealing to a wide catchment and although it often works, it can be hard to see who the target customer is. Some styles seem more suited to sensible Nine West shoppers.

PIED A TERRE

TRENDS

Neutrals, from soft mushroom to eggshell and natural linen to earthy brown, make for a stylish and at times quite urban collection. Platforms and wedges account for a sizeable chunk of the design quota, plus metallic roman sandals and round-toe satin courts. In response to the 1980s revival, there are dressy sandals with plastic straps - just enough of a nod without looking too young or cheap.

RIGHT FOR THE MARKET?

Pied a Terre serves up a raft of key trends without alienating its target market. Minus the gimmicky design, the retailer manages to hit on the 1980s, warrior, monochrome and jewels trends with subtle but directional handwriting that its affluent 25- to 35-year-old target shoppers will be happy to see on shelves.

NINE WEST

TRENDS

From wedges and platforms to courts, buckled sandals, and peep toes, Nine West's confident range hits on several trends while wisely avoiding obvious 1980s styling. Flashes of colour come from violet and lime metallics, with mahogany-effect heels and laser-cut leather.

RIGHT FOR THE MARKET?

Nine West has rolled out a strong range by updating its once fusty image. The brand has always sat at the top end of mainstream styling, but the autumn 07 designs bridge the contemporary bracket to cater for its core older customers, which are becoming more fashion-savvy.

FAITH

TRENDS

A 1970s vibe permeates Faith's range, with platforms in juicy or earthy colours and retro prints at the fore. Floral fabrics and crochet-effect courts - though not hugely on-trend - are perfect for summer. Key styles include cork platform slingbacks with mock-croc uppers and round-toe chunky printed platforms.

RIGHT FOR THE MARKET?

There is more colour in Faith's spring 07 offer than anywhere else on the high street, which will no doubt fall in its favour. True, the designs are not the most trend-driven in the market, but they are perfect for holidays and wedding attire. The retailer is also likely to win a few points for its preference towards 1970s designs, which will work well with the maxi dresses that have originated from the season's louche Californian dressing trend.

JONES BOOTMAKER

TRENDS

Round-toe slingback platforms give key catwalk styles a retro twist at Jones, while patent, pointy flats shine next to more classic almond-toe courts. The best looks include a flat pewter peep-toe pump with bow detail, and flip flops with brightly coloured patent finishes. Heels are generally lower than those seen elsewhere, but work well with the styles on offer.

RIGHT FOR THE MARKET?

Jones has succeeded in treating its customers to a comprehensive collection of styles that reference the seasons's key looks without looking too cool for school. This range is not aiming to entice new, hip shoppers - Jones has introduced more fashion to its offer, but is wise not to steam too far ahead.

SHELLYS

TRENDS

Chunky warrior styles are at the forefront of Shellys' range. Best are a brown leather platform with chunky ankle strap and a wooden squat-heeled multi-strap sandal, while the 1980s trend comes through on multi-coloured snakeskin pumps. Flat thong sandals have jewelled embellishments, while court shoes feature large square buckles. Some styles look dated, such as the glittery dancing shoes, but most hit the mark.

RIGHT FOR THE MARKET?

Shellys has boosted its fashion quota for spring 07 and should be able to compete on the high street. The chunky platforms are particularly strong - some of the best around. But some designs are disappointing and unless the retailer keeps its prices in check, it may continue to lose custom to the likes of New Look.

YOUNG FASHION

NEW LOOK

TRENDS

One of the few stores to channel the masculine trend into footwear, New Look introduces two-tone brogues in white with black or blue. Wooden wedges and patent styles are still here, while 1980s styling features on elastic-look sandals with contrast piping. Elsewhere, metallics, nudes and raffia mirror some of the more popular looks seen at other stores.

RIGHT FOR THE MARKET?

Apart from the masculine styles, which are too tongue-in-cheek for the average New Look teenager, the key trends and toned-down 1980s looks will attract older, fashion-savvy shoppers who pop in for a £20 treat.

TOPSHOP

TRENDS

Flat sandals in various colours and styles sit alongside looks that pay heed to the multi-strap sandal trend, as well as a few references to utility styling. Platforms are the dominant look. Best are a wooden squat-heel platform with leather straps and ankle strap, and a white clog-style heel with three buckles.

RIGHT FOR THE MARKET?

As always, Topshop stamps its unique signature on footwear. The trend boxes have all been ticked, but with a twist. Most notable is the vast selection of flat sandals, a sure-fire winner across all ages thanks to their effortless update of the classic Roman style. Similarly, the warrior and multi-strap trends provide wearable looks for Topshop's 16- to 45-year-old shoppers, whether at work or play.

RIVER ISLAND

TRENDS

Black or white winkle-picker brogues lead a swathe of masculine styles, while the monochrome feel seeps into 1980s looks on stacked court shoes and slingback wedges. Lemon T-bars and bright red buckle-front sandals inject colour, as do lilac punched-hole stilettoes. Metallic boots and silver T-bars inject sparkle.

RIGHT FOR THE MARKET?

Sophistication and glamour come in just the right doses for River Island's more grown-up customers. A triple-strap peep-toe sandal is one of the best catwalk-inspired styles on the high street, and this is one of the only stores to feature monochrome.

MAINSTREAM

CLARKS ORIGINALS

TRENDS

Eschewing most of the major trends, apart from 1980s slouchy ankle boots, Clarks Originals plays to its own tune. Round-toe pumps and boots in cream, toffee, chocolate, black and grey are key, with crepe sole overlaps, soft leather and quilted designs.

RIGHT FOR THE MARKET?

There has been much talk about the youth-driven Clarks Originals brand. Many designs are too fashionable for classic Clarks customers and not quite fashionable enough for its younger target market. That said, the comfort appeal could tap into the same trend as Crocs and Ugg boots.

MARKS & SPENCER

TRENDS

Focusing on a latte and plum palette with flashes of gold, M&S's footwear is not trend-driven, but takes a more relaxed route down the fashion trail. The mix includes satin pumps with square buckles, square-toe leather pumps with suede tips, metallic thong sandals and mid-calf suede boots with patent leather toes.

RIGHT FOR THE MARKET?

M&S has recently managed to up its fashion game while hanging on to classic customers, but its spring 07 footwear has started to lag behind other stores. That said, the retailer's core customers will be grateful that styles have on-trend elements without being too youthful.M&S's new devotees will head straight for the pretty but easy-to-wear pumps.

ROLAND CARTIER

TRENDS

Relatively trend-less, or at least a few seasons behind the main throng of footwear retailers, Roland Cartier has nevertheless done a good job of updating its staple styles for spring 07. Satin, subtle metallics, soft pastels and glittery designs look fresh enough to draw interest.

RIGHT FOR THE MARKET?

This collection has just the right mix of evening sandals and dressy courts to keep the summer party contingent happy, not to mention satin courts for days at the races and some elegant leather peep-toe pumps that have a more youthful image.

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