As a new season approaches, retailers have a lot on their minds.
From spiking inflation to ongoing supply chain challenges, the majority of businesses in our industry have been affected by at least one of these issues in the last year. While most are hopeful that the worst of rising costs and inventory delays are behind them, the persistence of these challenges is still top of mind going into a new season.
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This month marks the beginning of the spring/summer 2023 market for the men’s industry. And as buyers head to Europe for runway shows and showroom appointments, FN caught up with a few men’s executives from top retailers to discuss their best-performing categories, what they expect to see trending for spring ’23, plus the brands to watch.
What are your top men’s categories right now?
Reginald Christian, men’s fashion market manager at Saks: “Sneakers are still performing well. Currently, low-top basketball sneakers and runners are our top-performing styles. We are seeing a 70/30 shift from sneakers to dress-casual footwear. Collaborations across the board are also performing well for us right now. The New Balance x Aimé Leon Dore 550 sneakers were extremely successful. We continue to see low-top sneakers and runner-style sneakers from designers such as Dior, Gucci and Lanvin blow out.”
Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman: “The designer sneaker market is incredibly vibrant and robust for us. We are seeing a lot of interest in the different silhouettes. Runners are incredibly important right now, like Dior’s B25 and B29. Old-school interpretations of classic styles have also done well, like Dior’s monogram high-tops, as well as the basketball style sneaker from Prada. Slip-on styles and drivers have also been doing well.”
Justin Berkowitz, men’s fashion director at Bloomingdale’s: “We’re fortunate to have strength across the board in our men’s business. More polished sportswear, tailoring and dressier footwear categories are specifically performing incredibly well. We’re beginning to see more balance, which I think is being driven by social need. Our customer is looking for sneakers, but he also needs a loafer or a boot and a formal shoe. In true active, On Running remains very powerful. On the dressier side, our customer is opting for many different variations on the loafer, ranging from more simple styles for day to elegant velvet styles for evening formalwear.”
Federico Barassi, VP of menswear buying at Ssense: “Our top men’s categories this season are sweaters, outerwear, such as jackets and coats, and of course sneakers — both high- and low-top. Aside from the old-school styles from the brands, we can see brands such as Rick Owens, Common Projects and Axel Arigato performing strongly this season.”
What trends are you forecasting to see or continue into next spring?
Christian: “For spring ‘23, we hope to see new iterations of classic footwear being reworked; brands have found clever ways to update dress shoes, such as the loafer or Chelsea boot. The forward design approach makes soles chunkier, evolving the silhouette to feel more modern. We anticipate that the slide will continue to evolve into a more fashionable design silhouette, such as a mule or technical sandal, offering comfortability and functionality. We also expect to see more artisanal-inspired footwear that feels special, with designs focusing on futuristic and sustainable styles. And we hope to see more genderless colorways and sneakers that offer a normcore aesthetic pulling forward the ’90s sportswear trend that has resurfaced over the past few seasons.”
Pask: “We are seeing a lot of molded rubber, which is interesting because it gives sneakers a sculptural quality, as we saw in the new Versace Odissea sneaker and some of the new Balenciaga styles. This material allows for a lighter-weight shoe, so I’m curious to see what new technical material developments come this season. There has also been a return to occasion-based dressing, which has created more focus on the dress category, even in unexpected categories like dress sneakers, slip-ons and drivers. There is also an opportunity for dress sandals for spring, like Prada’s fisherman style and Ferragamo’s traditional strappy sandal.”
Berkowitz: “In footwear specifically, we expect to continue to see sneakers get a bit more streamlined in terms of silhouette, the evolution of clogs, mules and sandals, and finally, the continued resurgence of dress and formal footwear.”
Barassi: “We will continue to see a strong ‘70s aesthetic on the runways for spring ’23, but with a summer twist, fit for the warmer days. Currently, we can see this trend in collections from brands such as Gucci and Wales Bonner. We can also expect to see an ongoing trend of skater shoes, which we can already see at brands like Lanvin.”
What are the brands to watch for this upcoming show season?
Christian: “We are looking forward to seeing Prada’s and Balenciaga’s latest footwear collections. They always find creative and relevant ways to drive footwear design forward. We are always eager to see the Adidas collaborations.”
Berkowitz: “It’s an exciting season of change at some of the houses based in Milan. I’m looking forward to seeing the new vision at Ferragamo by Maximilian Davis, at Off White by Ib Kamara, at Bally by Rhuigi Villaseñor, and at Corneliani by Paul Surridge.”
Barassi: “A brand to watch this season is Y/Project, as they will be launching their second Jean Paul Gaultier installment. We are also very excited to see brands like Aaron Esh and Simone Rocha.”
Which brands are on the rise and should be on our radar?
Christian: “Amiri has been rising positively and expanding its assortment to offer more dress-casual shoes while also making smart updates to its sneaker offering. Brunello Cucinelli’s footwear has also shown strong developments to offer more dress-casual footwear that appeals to the guy who is seeking an office-to-dinner shoe. Sunni Sunni, the genderless footwear brand, should also be on your radar. We have seen an incredible reaction to their innovative, timeless designs.”
Barassi: “EGONlab is a must watch for the spring ’23 season, as we see performance consistently on the rise. We’re also looking forward to seeing what JW Anderson and Marni will be doing next as they consistently keep us surprised and excited with every collection.”
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