Not only does this contribute to our trade deficit (most notably with China) but also the industry's increasing carbon footprint, and the loss of manufacturing expertise in this country makes brands increasingly more captive to offshore manufacturing partners' objectives. What would you like to see change? I'd like to see more eco-friendly components, materials and manufacturing processes as well as more localized production and distribution on a global scale. [...] the focus on retail financial metrics puts tremendous pressure on vendors to balance the management of their brand with the near-term margin requirements. From how a shoe feels or smells, to what it's like to listen to a customer and really hear them out, or hearing a consumer talk about a personal experience with a product-those personalized elements are what makes this industry so fascinating, and I hope they're not compromised.
20 YEARS OF... THE BIZ Manufacturers and retailers reﬂect on the last 20 years of business, pinpointing the good, the bad and what might happen next. By Melissa Kniﬁc VINCE CAMUTO, CEO, CAMUTO GROUP What have been the biggest changes in the industry over the last two decades? This recession has changed how we all operate— we have to make smarter choices, become more efﬁcient. We can’t change the economic climate, but we can be sure our strategy is more passionate and deliberate. Plus, the consolidation at retail. There are fewer stores and people are shopping online more and more. Today’s world is much smaller. Biggest surprise? Consumers have gotten smarter over the last 10 to 15 years. They’re more tuned into the trends and have a sharp eye for quality and comparison. The Internet and the media have helped this along; with so much access to information at their ﬁnger- tips, you can’t fool anyone. What’s stayed consistent? Women are al- ways going to want a great pair of shoes. Footwear is and always will be the What’s changed for the worse? The consolidation of retail has caused a purchase that can change an outﬁt, change an attitude. bit of a homogenization of the selection in many stores. Predictions for the next 20 years? Things will get better. In the long run, I What’s stayed consistent? At the end of the day, it’s always been about like to say that everyone has a short memory. When [the economy bounces] having great product and great service. back, people will forget [the recession’s effect]. What would you like to see change? More collaboration and information What would you like to see change? As retailers constrict and consolidate, sharing among retailers, brands and customers would be beneﬁcial for all. you can see a lot of the same—people playing it safe. But the thing about We believe transparency leads to trust and conﬁdence with customers and America is we have a lot of talent. There are a lot of entrepreneurs coming up brand partners. with new ideas; they are going to stimulate the economy. Predictions for the next 20 years? In 10 years, the Internet went from nonexistent to the primary choice for many consumers. The pace of change PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SARAH RENNER STEVE HILL, VICE PRESIDENT OF MERCHANDISING, ZAPPOS and innovation will accelerate as customers have access to increased Biggest changes? The diversity and variety of footwear offered today is amounts of information, brands and great product. the largest change. Athletic, casual and wellness are all categories that have experienced great growth, and fashion has become accessible for all MANDY CABOT, CEO, DANSKO consumers. Biggest changes? Consumers have raised the bar on comfort, allowing new What’s changed for the better? Increased competition and consumers’ brands to emerge with better products and some older brands an opportu- ability to see what brands are doing from both a style and technology nity to reinvent themselves. Additionally, consumers now have far greater standpoint has pushed vendors to continue to innovate. Those that have access to far more information about the products they buy and the values inspired customers are the ones that have experienced growth in any of the companies behind those products, and they’re exercising their right market. to make intelligent choices now more than ever before. 36 footwearplusmagazine.com • april/may 2010 What’s changed for the better? This decade has witnessed the develop- RICHARD POLK, PRESIDENT, PEDESTRIAN SHOPS ment of more organic and sustainably produced components and materials Biggest changes? In some ways we’ve come full circle. Even though mod- as well as increased attention to corporate social responsibility and safer ern technology has changed the way we operate, we’re also going back to manufacturing. Meanwhile, the growth of o
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