Footwear collections are looking considerably more casual and comfort-focused this summer, as brands pivot to cater to consumers’ new work-from-home lifestyles. Dress shoe sales, on the other hand, have suffered considerably; the segment dropped 71% in the second quarter, compared to last year, according to research firm NPD Group.
But footwear brand founders, including Sarah Flint, say it’s not the end of the line for heels.
She notes that despite the overwhelming shift toward casual dressing, their pumps are still in their top-selling category. She owed it to that “consumers are making more emotional purchases right now and buying things that bring them joy.”
Since the lockdowns started in March, however, the penetration of total sales has doubled for flats. What’s more, the brand’s sandals have had record sales as consumers have sought out more practical wardrobe options.
This shift toward comfort was already in motion before the pandemic, in line with the athleisure and casual wear trends in the broader fashion industry and in workplaces. NPD analyst Beth Goldstein told Bloomberg that the dress shoe segment may never fully recover, as sales were already down 12% in 2019.
Comanies prefer going for more sneakers and comfy shoes rather than heels for this coming season.
Companies like Sarah Flint are planning to launch a slipper this fall, which it’s labeling a “house shoe,” as part of a Cozy Interiors collection. The collection also includes an all-purpose boot, a sleek heel and a flat.
While there are still plenty of unknowns at play, when it comes to the future of footwear, Flint is optimistic. “Whether they’re purchasing pumps for a rainy day or dressing up for a socially distanced night out, women are still — and always will be — in the market for a great pair of heels,” Flint said.