Monday, August 18, 2008

UTILITARIAN FOOTWEAR GOES ON TREND


DANSKO's "AVA" From the Louvre Collection in Toffee Crinkle Patent
SPRING '09













THINK PRANA, NOT PRADA!

BIRKI’s, MBT, SALOMON, VIBRAM, DANSKO

Outdoor Retailer Tradeshow, Salt Lake City, August 8th

Words, Images Judith Ecochard

In this economy…American consumers are over the hype of NAME labels (TV’s Gossip Girls phenomena not withstanding). We’re getting that clothes, shoes, and accessories cannot just be functional-but stylish too.

With the plethora of garb/gear hitting retailer shelves, designs and construction of everything needs to be smarter -with new high-tech fabrics and better finishes all feeding the hunger for multi-use transition products.

For shoes and sandals, we discovered similar thought patterns.

BIRKI’S: CLOGS, WATER FRIENDLY SANDALS, AND SHOES WITH FLAIR

On our way to another appointment, we made a quick pit stop at the colorful booth of new to us, Birki’s®-a line of 100% made in Germany shoes that’s part of the famed Birkenstock family.

The highlight of this extensive line of resole-able shoes, sandals and clogs was the green Vegan selections that are durable and highly comfortable… featuring the anatomically formed footbed (in this instance, made of microfiber)- that’s a signature of this company. Uppers for this collection are made from a synthetic fleece called Birko-Flor...and all shoeboxes and shipping cartons are made from re-cycled materials.

Earth Aware: Eco savvy, Birki’s soft cork (hand harvested in Portugal) footbeds are made without adhesives…while the feather light ALPRO®-cell (EVA) that make up the clogs use 100% chlorofluoro-carbon (CFC)-free water based propellants.














Top Pick: The matchy-matchy kids and mommy sandals and shoes.

Prices: Children-$29-$49, Women/Men’s $64-$119



MBT (MASAI BALANCE TECHNOLOGY): GOOD FOR YOU FUNCTION/FASHION

One of our bro’s was given marching orders by his chiropractor-to wear a pair of MBT’s, “the anti-shoe.”

And viola-instant posture improvement, heel pain banished, and leg muscles engaged.

Hot off the presses is the new sole construction, "Dual Board" that's basically a more compact sole (looks better too IMHO). In essence, the shank "which provides the necessary stiffness for the sole construction, is fused with the lasting board into one piece." The collection also boasts "the unique MBT DRY & COOL Climate Management System, a high grade 3D-mesh lining and functional sockliner which combines air circulation and moisture management to keep feet comfortably dry."



For Fall ’08 and Spring ’09, MBT, a ten-year-old Swiss company keeps improving postures worldwide--- but with new snazzy chic outer alternatives for urbanites sick of changing their shoes once they get to the office.





In keeping with the functional/fashionable mantra-we think the elegant Mary J "Tunisha" (black leather with adjustable buckle closure, full grain sockliner with antimicrobial treatment, and a soft leather lining for comfort, the cute "Habari" model summer sandal with an adjustable heel strap, smooth microfiber lining, and split leather footbed, the“Tambo” wedge boots in chocolate suede/black… and the “Lofa” slip-on for guys-- will curry favor with consumers seeking a lot of “physiological” comfort in what envelopes their peds.


Retail: Widely available at high end boutiques-Naturalizer, Comfort One Shoes, Harry’s Shoes, Shoe Mania etc and online: Nordstom.com, Dillards.com Zappos.com
Info: MBT







SALOMON: OUTDOOR FAVORITE UPDATES

We went “whoa” when we entered the mammoth Salomon display. So many options, so little time.


Zeroing in on what’s new for S/S ’09 from this now owned by the outdoor enthusiasts’ favorite Arc’teryx Equipment…is the big push of the “Light Amphibian W” mesh, lace-up sandals. We wear these kinds of hybrids (that have the protection of shoes) all the time…as they’re super light and stable. Set to hit shelves in January, the anatomically correct “W” has a complete front to back redesign, will come in four different colors…and has an extremely breathable bamboo-lining insert.

Oh yeah, it’s also great for canoeing as well as walking through water, has a flappable seal and is anti-debris.

MSRP: $75











VIBRAM USA: EARTHY JOY

Time Magazine anointed the Vibram FiveFingers as one of the best inventions of 2007. We got a lesson on these abrasion resistant stretch polyamide fabric outdoor fitness slip-ons that resurrect the joys of walking barefoot and “connects” wearers closer to the earth…

Hey, they’re catchy looking for sure.

We can definitely see using these muscle stimulating, natural gait inducing coverings with the sure grip Vibram® sole (naturally)- for surfing, yoga, kayaking, walking and general fitness endeavors where the thought of going without foot protection is not an option.








Gym floors are so yechy.

FACTOIDS: Comes in four styles (Classic, Sprint, KeepStuffOut and Flow).

Vegan friendly and machine washable/air dry.



DANSKO: BEYOND THE CLOGS

Anyone who ever even thought of wearing clogs knows Dansko, a famous brand from across the pond.

Building on their theme of “all day comfort” for S/S ’09 are the fashion forward “Sela” and “Serafina” backless, buckle closure sandals with solid heels (Sausalito Collection) - in on trend patent leather (red, black,toffee) and the fab, we see ourselves wearing- “Louvre” mid-height wedge Collection... with a leather wrapped dual density foam bed for comfort-and uppers in patents and stretch fabrics.


The limited edition leather clogs with graffiti prints that are selling like gangbusters for Fall’08… are coming to stores (January ’09) in bright new colors.

We think these new styles-in addition to the "Capri" lightweight sandals in soft "nappa Lite leather" or soft crinkle patent- are a revelation – and should make fashionistas hot-foot it over to Dansko outlets.

INFO: Average MSRP around $120 with wide retail distribution (Zappos.com, Dillards, Nordstrom’s, REI, David Z etc)