Saturday, June 2, 2012

You’ve probably noticed the outbreak of bright colors in clothing trends this spring.  Catalogs, email blasts and store windows are loaded with eye-grabbing arrays of royal blues, lime greens, bright oranges and even brighter yellows.  This trend, which has been a couple years in the making, stands in stark contrast to the “black is the new black” dogma that ruled the past.  Colors that two years ago only Rickie Fowler could wear are now commonplace in every Sunday grouping on the PGA Tour.  That certain intense blue and its orange cousin are the most popular colors at golf courses across the country.  Black-on-black and even traditional white-on-black combinations have moved to the back shelf.

Similarly, we’re seeing more and more novel applications of color in shoes, creating a bunch of new impressions.  Our NEUMOKS – soft, unconstructed wingtips in blue, green and red leathers – are selling so fast that we can’t keep them in stock.  Colored shoelaces are a pretty new item for our stores, and we’ve had to re-order them at a blistering pace.  Our RIDGEWAY,  a fully structured wingtip with matching  colored laces, stitching and welts – offered as a WebGem on our website in April -- sold, in just three weeks, as much as some of our decent-sellers did in all of 2009 (the cognac brown version with the orange accents was the by far the most popular).

So, when our product development team concocted some new beef-roll penny loafers using combinations of blue, red, green, light brown and coffee for our Spring 2013 line, well – we immediately moved them forward to this year. 

Introducing the SEDONA (pictured below).  It’s the perfect summer combination of upbeat colors, sturdy leathers, and lightweight comfort on a Vibram sole.  Rarely has a shoe come off our line that so many employees are already planning to get for themselves.  Even Ed Pawlowski, our usually understated expert shoemaker whose hands touch every pattern we design, is planning on getting the red version for himself.  I’m going for both the green and blue and the red and blue (I think I’ll wear the green and blues most of the time but have the red and blues for the lake).  Specially priced at $149 for Father’s Day, they make a great gift.

Why this move away from serious black as the overwhelming choice?  I think the bright color trend stems from the recovery from the 2008 Great Recession – frustratingly slow as it has been.   Although not yet at the level anyone would like, it’s springtime in America again with the economy growing, manufacturing jobs heading back to our shores and a renewed commitment to building the country.  Despite all of our continued political frustration, we just got tired of being grim.  People generally have brighter outlooks now and black-on-black doesn’t fit that mood – colors do.   Also, in shoes specifically, men are looking for a way to add some personalized style and differentiation in their dress and, without a necktie to do it anymore, they’re looking to shoes to play the role.  Whatever the reason, Elvis would be proud that blue is again a shoe color of choice – just make sure nobody steps on them.
Happy Fathers’ Day!

Paul D. Grangaard

President & CEO
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation