As the pandemic ends, many retailers believe the trend towards 24/7 casual is here to stay. It’s not, says famous men’s shoe designer Adam Derrick.
Photo courtesy of To Boot New York
As the pandemic ends and we step out of our Zoom-based home offices and sweatpants (OK, our apartment rooms), many retailers believe the trend towards 24/7 casualness is here to stay.
Not so, says acclaimed men’s shoe designer Adam Derrick, creator of the highly regarded To start New York line of shoes, boots and sneakers for men. Derrick thinks most people want to look chic and dress up, and retailers who bet against that reality are going to miss out on a lot of time.
People in the fashion industry, says Derrick (pictured right), expect this casual-looking trend to take hold, but I’m not convinced. Dressing well is an opportunity to feel different, to look different, to stand out in a good way. People failed to express their personal sense of style. It’s too early to ignore the idea of people wanting to dress up and look good. It will definitely come back.
Some retailers, says Derrick, are betting on casual by reducing their inventory of more formal clothing, but that’s a mistake.
These stores got rid of all the costumes they used to sell, he said. Value. They’re really cutting back on their dress shoes. Customers now go to the stores and try to find nice things to buy, but they can’t find what they want. I understand that the stores had to reduce stocks with such low traffic. But now that shoppers are coming back, there’s a good chance retailers will disappoint the customer looking for good things to buy. It will take some time for these stores to replenish their stocks.
The Derricks To Boot New York line has been the choice of fashion-conscious celebrities, professionals and 20-year-olds for 30 years. He says sales across all of his offerings haven’t missed a beat during COVID-19 lockdowns.
Shoes are a need, not a need, he explained. It’s not like people need more shoes. But for men, there is very little way to express themselves, given the standardized nature of workwear. Shoes are the best way to make a statement. And people who buy To Boot New York often have a dozen or more pairs of our shoes. They see our shoes as old friends, not just something to wear.
It’s also an opportunity for a man to bring a different character to his wardrobe, he continued. You’ve got a basic outfit of jeans and a t-shirt, right? You can’t get more generic than this. But it completely changes the character of jeans and a t-shirt if you wear a cool pair of boots with them, or have a really fancy sneaker in a fun, vibrant color. So without thinking too much about it, you can really bring some personality to your style.
Shoes are also the non-negotiable one in everyone’s wardrobe, Derrick notes.
In the summer, Derrick says, people can wear less, but they still have shoes! It’s the one thing you can’t live without! So it makes sense that as people get on with their lives, they think about what they will be wearing on their feet.
At To Boot New York, Derricks’ role is first and foremost to design the collection, meet with the factories creating the samples, correct the samples and be the voice of the brand. He usually travels to Italy five or six times a year to meet the artisans who make his shoes by hand. And while there are only a limited number of changes you can make to men’s shoe designs, the process never gets old for him.
Most of the people who work in the footwear business, he said, stay in the footwear sector. I love our part of the business because we work with handmade products and we work with artisans. We work with people who really care about what they do and make it look good. It is a pleasure for me to work with like-minded people who want to deliver the best possible product.
However, men’s fashion is changing, Derrick noted.
Guys have a lot more shoe options these days, he said. Black shoes are back. With brown, you have a myriad of shades. This gives you the most options. But we’ve started to do really well with grays, blues and greens, especially in athletic and casual shoes.
Once you get into the sneaker lifestyle, you can have 15 different colors, he continued. It becomes like a polo shirt, no matter what you want to do, there is a sneaker or a shoe for it. It’s really fun, and my clients really like it, because they can really change shoes with their moods and change their outfits.
Classics remain classics, says Derrick, and there’s no reason to change what works.
I have a shoe called Forte, he explained, which is made from a single piece of leather. There is no seam, a five eyelet lace, an elegant and beautiful shoe. There is no way to improve this shoe, so I will not change the iconic look of the Fortes. When something is right, there is no point in changing it just for the sake of the change. There is always something new and fresh that you can introduce, so people can buy their classics and then find their pleasure, on the weekends, or while traveling, or all of those things that we can’t wait to do again.
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