New Men's Shoe styles for fall 2016
Members of our design team give us a sneak peek at what is new in fall of 2016
Q: I see the new fall styles laid out before me. The final product. This represents the end of the road but where does it begin? Where does the inspiration for so many cool new shoes come from?
Jillian Cooper: We begin the design process with many months of trend research and gathering inspiration to develop the ideas we feel will best represent newness and excite the customer. We also look at the current line and identify places we see open opportunity. In some cases we'd like to replace an older item, in other cases we see the need for an item or grouping we've never tried before. We value the feedback we receive from our retail and wholesale partners and take this into account while developing new key items.
Q: The three of you play different roles in the development process. Can you explain how you collaborate with each other?
Aaron Lauber: We don't have many conversations that do not touch on sourcing, design, & production at the same time. We are lucky to have a tight product development group allowing us to discuss the whole process from beginning to end. At times we begin the design process with a particular component, such as a favorite leather or an outsole, and build on it. Other times we are inspired purely from an overall aesthetic idea and start "from scratch." Either way, we need to identify up front how we can execute the idea in production – this is how we collaborate. Ideas come from all sides and we strongly believe that the benefits of working as a team show in the product.
Q: Fashions come and go. How does Allen Edmonds stay ahead of emerging trends in the industry?
Jim Kass: Timing is crucial when it comes to registering trend. It's important to identify emerging trends each season but it's more important to know when (and in what application) the customer is ready to accept those trends. Developing a trend too early can result in failure to resonate with the consumer. Likewise, showing the same trend too late can cause boredom and also result in failure. Our product is largely based on classic, well made, and iconic silhouettes. Updating and diversifying these items with current trends and fresh ideas is something we have fun with, but we always make sure we can tie new ideas into the heritage and direction of the brand.
Q: After a quick glance at the new styles a couple of things jumps out at me, I see a lot of cool colors and suedes.
Jillian: Yes, both are big this fall. They are part of our Mixed Textures that fall within the Refined Dress Collection. These are styles that use grain, suede, and fabric. As you see, color is increasingly important to our customers – it's a great way to show individuality and uniqueness in a dress-casual environment. The Horween Chromexcel leathers are rich and colorful without being over the top. They look great on the Neumok 2.0. Today color no longer means quirky, color is very cool. We also use lots of textures such as brown grain for the Leeds 2.0, MacNeil 2.0, & Dundee 2.0 which are great everyday staples. And suede can be worn with suits or in dress casual situations. Case in point is the Strand where we have taken one of our classic patterns and made it in rich, supple, suede. It looks, and feels, absolutely fantastic.
Jim: We also added suit fabric to styles like the Leiden. It is the same fabric we use in some of our jackets for fall. They complement our fall attire and look great with classics like a white shirt and a navy blazer and dark denim.
Q: What other new collections can we look forward to this fall?
Aaron: We are introducing the Back to School Collection which includes new styles like the Alumnus, Academy, & Higgins Mill. These are shoes and boots that have a young collegiate appeal and feature a wider, rounded toe that gives them a relaxed, yet polished look that is really on trend. Plus the whiskey colored side walls and leather/rubber combination soles make them both cool and functional.
Jim: We also created the Weekend Country Collection. We wanted to offer shoes that have a masculine and rustic vibe about them. The kind of thing a guy can wear on the weekends, at the cottage, to football games, etc. The rich, oiled chamois leather wears beautifully and looks even better over time and the lug sole gives a rugged look that makes these shoes and boot versatile enough to wear with jeans or chinos.
Q: I have to say I love the Chelsea boot.
Jim: Thanks, it's called the Liverpool, and it's a true Chelsea made of a one-piece vamp. It was a really difficult boot to engineer and even required new machinery to make it. Getting the vamp to crimp perfectly, and learning the proper techniques for the construction took a lot of time but it came out really clean and sleek. I love it.
Q: If you had to choose a favorite?
Jim: We work on each new style for a long time and they become like children to us but if pushed to choose a favorite I would say something from the Weekend Country Collection like the Cascade. It has a chamois upper with a lightweight sole. It's a bold, cool look. I plan to wear them in the fall with heavy-weight clothing like quilted vests and cords.
Jillian: Forced to choose I would take something from the Back to School Collection. Either the Alumnus, Academy, & Higgins Mill. I love the new last with a wider, rounded toe. They have a really youthful, relaxed & cool mood. Plus the Horween Chromexcel leathers and the whiskey colored side wall differentiates them from more classic styles and makes them very versatile.
Aaron: Let's just say I already have an order in for the St. John's. I love a double monk strap and this one is so sleek and cool. A lot of planning and time went into the details of this shoe such as the perfing on the medallion and the slimmer buckles and I love the result.