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,
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