Atlanta Shoe Market Sees Record Turnout Ahead of Spring 2024 Season – Sourcing Journal

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The energy level was high this past weekend, as footwear retailers and brand execs from across the globe gathered for the August edition of The Atlanta Shoe Market.

The trade show hosted the biggest event in its more than 80-year history, with over 1,500 brands and a record turnout. Executive director Laura Conwell-O’Brien told FN that attendance among exhibitors increased 22 percent and retailer attendance was up 15 percent for the three-day event, which ran Aug. 12-14 at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

“The energy was electrifying,” Conwell-O’Brien wrote said in a Facebook post on the closing day of the show, thanking participants and guests. “It was so heartwarming to see our industry come together.”

As the show has grown in recent years, it is attracting a larger contingent of buyers from national chains and department stores. According to Conwell-O’Brien, major retailers who shopped the show included Dillard’s, Belk, TJX Group, Von Maur, Shoe Show, Shoe Carnival, Scheels, Anthropologie, Walmart, Ross, Boscov’s, Beall’s and Shoe Sensation.

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Eric Hollenberg, designer of Frogg Toggs, which was presenting its new Floteez sandal collection, told FN, “One of the most rewarding aspects of the show was the opportunity to engage with a diverse array of new retailers, as well as to reconnect with our existing vendors. It’s not just a trade show — it’s a vibrant convergence of industry minds, an arena where ideas are exchanged and partnerships are nurtured.”

At the Atlanta show, buyers trekked the aisles booking their spring ’24 orders, as well as securing last-minute fill-ins for the fall and winter seasons.

Brand executives said that after three years of supply chain and inventory headaches, their retail partners seemed ready to leave the past behind them. “They’ve been buying pretty conservatively for a while, but now are willing to take more chances. They’re not as interested in the basics. They’re looking for color and newness,” said Brian Alves, national sales manager at comfort brand Revere, which is debuting its new, fashion-forward Euro collection for spring, featuring bold tones and novelty prints.

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The first half of 2023 was challenging for many major retailers and brands, especially in North America, which has been grappling with inflation, soaring interest rates and recession concerns that have dampened consumer spending.

And while back-to-school is underway — with the all-important holiday season still ahead — some execs at the show were ready to write off 2023 entirely. They preferred to look ahead toward 2024, when it is hoped the market will return to, if not normal, at least a more stable and predictable environment.

Among the spring collections, sneakers once again reigned supreme. And the booming demand is providing new category growth opportunities for brands.

For instance, Pajar, which is best known for its winter boots, was showing a sharp collection of lifestyle sneakers for spring ’24 with a modern aesthetic that took design cues from outdoor and court looks.

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At Cole Haan, the longtime dress shoe brand is continuing to build on its performance running collection. For next season it’s adding unexpected details such as gingham and floral Delft prints to appeal to fashion-focused athletes. And within its lifestyle sneaker line, it’s offering plenty of color pops to brighten up summer wardrobes.

Also for customers looking to stand out, Consolidated Shoe Co. is distributing the Rebecca White brand starting this fall. Made in Italy, its line of casual sneakers feature towering platforms, distressed uppers, sequins, glitter, zippers and other unique details.

Other spring trends on full display were colorful crochet details; natural materials such as raffia, jute and wood; and studding and rhinestone embellishments.

Below is a preview of some of the new looks for the season:

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Pajar Canada’s trail-inspired sneakers for spring ’24.

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Cole Haan spring ’24 sneakers with color pops.

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Embellished high-top sneakers from Rebecca White.

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Chocolate Blu spring ’24 sandals in a range of natural materials.

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Corky’s denim boots with stud and rhinestone embellishments.

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