Wingtips aren't just for men anymore.
Retailers such as Saks and Barneys New York are selling women scores of men's dress shoe styles redesigned with different proportions or new materials. The footwear - think embellished smoking slippers and python-skin Derby flats - is fetching prices more typical of high-fashion stilettos than casual oxfords, helping chains boost sales in an area where growth was flagging.
"I love that kind of gender-bender look," said Christy McCampbell, 60, a law-enforcement consultant in Washington who recently bought three pairs of brogues, including a $1,200 pair of black Pradas with white trim. "You are not teetering in stiletto heels and yet you still look good."
Shoemakers and stores could use the boost from shoppers like McCampbell after cold weather in the spring and a general pullback in spending on non-essential items left shelves full of sandals, forcing them to take markdowns that crimped profit. Sales growth in the $23.5 billion U.S. women's fashion shoe segment was 2.8 percent in the 12 months ended in September, compared with a 4.8 percent increase for handbags, according to researcher NPD Group Inc.
Incorporating men's styles helps women's luxury shoe designers drive sales by broadening out their narrow collections, said Roseanne Morrison, fashion director at trend forecaster Doneger Group in New York.
"How many designer shoes with six-inch spikes does a store sell to a customer?" Morrison said. "Maybe one a season. The girl usually picks out that one shoe that she wants to wear with a special dress. When you have a wider range of shoes, it opens a wider opportunity for multiple sales."
The fashion houses have rendered the men's styles more feminine with tweaks such as more-pointed toes or higher heels. Each of the traditional men's shapes now comes in a wide variety for women, with oxford shoes, for example, available anywhere from dancing-shoe types to clunky versions that look nun- inspired. Their creators use materials including animal skins as well as embellishments like embroidery and studs that few men would wear.
Saks's lineup includes patent leather and velvet jeweled oxfords from Dolce & Gabbana for $1,195. Barneys features "distressed" laceless Marsell versions at $665. Christian Louboutin, renowned for platform stilettos, created a $1,495 python pointed-toe Derby flat, with his signature red sole. A pair of "Lorenza" $765 wingtips in perforated brown leather comes from Manolo Blahnik, widely regarded as a master of feminine shoes.
Stubbs & Wootton produces its iconic smoking slipper for women in "camo" needlepoint for $400. Bottega Veneta sells a brogue-style ankle boot with a dramatic 5-inch heel, for $950.
J.M. Weston, the French luxury men's shoemaker, introduced its first shoes designed especially for women in late September. The seven styles, created by men's shoe designer Michel Perry, include a moccasin in cognac and burgundy and are priced as high as 700 euros ($943).
"What looks so great is that there are so many different kinds of men's shoes: it's about the brogue, the loafer, the double monk, the Chelsea boot," said Elizabeth Kanfer, Saks's senior fashion director for accessories. "It's definitely different for us; traditionally we sell pretty shoes."
The trend originated as a street look that designers latched onto and at first was more about the kind of slipper that playboy Hugh Hefner has paired with his bathrobe, said Stuart Weitzman, a shoe designer whose company is owned by Jones Group Inc. Then it spread quickly to the other men's shoe styles and to multiple fashion shows, he said in a telephone interview.
"It keeps the category alive," Weitzman said. "It gives a fresh reason to buy."
Taylor Swift, Kate Moss, and Diane Kruger are among the celebrities spotted wearing such styles.
This isn't the first time men's influences have stormed women's fashion - strong-shouldered women's suits dominated the 1980s. This latest reprise is part of a multiyear androgynous phase in clothing. Many women have adopted men's styles such as motorcycle jackets, button-down shirts and cross-body bags, in part because of their practicality.
"Comfort is part of it," Morrison said. "It is the pendulum swing, it's the overreaction to the super-high heels."
Saks, based in New York, trained its sales associates to show customers how to incorporate the new shoes into their wardrobes, Kanfer said.
"We had to support the education around the trend," she said. "Customers were used to year after year of platforms."
The experts say the new look isn't going away any time soon.
Wingtips aren't just for men anymore.
NAMI classes begin in September
NAMI Edmond North-OKC, the local organization of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will offer its Family-to-Family Education Program beginning Sept. 2. It will contine Sept. 4 and 8-9. Classes will be at Crossings Community Church, Quail Springs United Methodist Church, Francis Tuttle Technology Center (Portland campus), Tinker AFB Chapel and the Thunderbird Club House in Norman.
NAMI Family-to-Family is a free 12-session education program for family caregivers of adults living with mental illness. The sessions are offered once a week for a few hours each.
Edmond church to host free eye clinic
An Edmond church and Feed the Children are partnering to provide a free eye clinic.
Individuals will be able to receive a free vision test and free prescription eye glasses from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Waterloo Road Baptist Church, 3100 E. Waterloo Road. All ages are welcome and registration is not required.
UCO forensic volunteer wants to aid more agencies
A four-person group of forensic investigators who volunteer their time to help smaller Oklahoma police departments isn’t enough to meet demand, a member said.
Kama King, who recently completed her graduate research and will be a member of the faculty at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Forensic Science Institute, said outside of full-time jobs, members of the group volunteer to assist these agencies.
As her career progresses, King hopes to help establish a permanently funded organization available to any agency in the state to assist in remains recovery as well as related training.
City to improve traffic flow
The Edmond City Council this week approved a services agreement with Electronic Technology, Inc. For the installation of Intelligent Transportation Systems’ video wall system at a cost of $314,620. The vote was 3-0.
ITS is a fiber optic, wireless or hybrid communication system of monitoring road events and equipment in the field, data archiving and predicting traffic volume, said Kent Kacir, an engineer with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc.
Shootout of a sale
An original article of the Wild West will be made available at auction Thursday. The rifle of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp will be part of the J. Levine Auction & Appraisal’s Summer Quarterly Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Earp was an Arizona deputy sheriff and deputy town marshal in Tombstone, Ariz. He is legendary for playing a key role in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. He died in 1929 at age 80.
Wyatt Earp collector Barry Tapp of Edmond will be selling his 1895 Wyatt Earp Marlin rifle at the auction. The rifle has an estimated value between $50,000 and $75,000. It includes authentication documentation from Tombstone Heritage Museum, according to the auction house
UCO forensic researcher answers key question
After working a few human recovery cases on a volunteer basis with a variety of police departments, a question kept bugging Kama King.
“You spend the whole day,” the UCO W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute student said, “sometimes days, searching for someone and only find a skull or a few bones and it just ate at me. Are we not finding this or is it not there to be found?”
Peace through Business empowering women entrepreneurs
Peace Through Business is part of the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW) based in Oklahoma City. It is a program that connects small business entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda with business owners in Oklahoma. One such entrepreneur found out about the program from a friend, applied, and was accepted to take part in this year’s session.
Upon earning a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Universite de Sciences et Technique de Lille in Belgium, Lyliose Nduhungirehe began her career working for a construction company in Brussels, but she quickly switched paths to Information Technology.
How to care for your pet without breaking the bank
It’s a shame furry friends can’t pay for themselves. Though wagging tails after a long day at work may make pet ownership seem worthwhile, a happy pup won’t stop those bills from rolling in at the end of the month. Thankfully, quick and easy ways exist for dog owners to cut down on costs.
Local church welcomes new pastor
For one of Edmond’s newest pastors, faith and family intersect on a personal level.
Sam Powers, pastor at Edmond 1st United Methodist Church, 305 E. Hurd St., and his family arrived in mid-May and his first Sunday in the pulpit was the second one in June. He and his wife Sheryl Heaton Powers, have two children — Kyla will be an eighth-grader at Cheyenne Middle School and David will be a fifth-grader at John Ross Elementary.
Keith, 5 others to receive service awards
The 2014 Door-Opener Awards Gala dinner and silent auction Sept. 4, benefitting ASTEC Charter Schools, will recognize five outstanding Oklahomans and one Kansan for lifetime contributions made toward helping others in society maximize potential and achieve dreams.
Those selected to receive a Door-Opener Award at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel event include Dr. Harvey Dean, Pittsburg, Kan.; Toby Keith and Tricia Covel, Norman; Former Gov. George P. Nigh, Edmond; the late Dr. Ramona Paul, Edmond; and Natalie Shirley, Oklahoma City.
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