Footwear Brands Kick Up Their Heels

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Sales up in '01, greater gains expected in '02

Footwear sales were up a bit in 2000, and due to numerous market introductions last year, many licensees predict an even stronger 2001.

Brown Shoe (St. Louis, Mo.), a Carlos Santana licensee for women's footwear, has almost quadrupled the sales of its musician-influenced product since landing at retail in early 2001. Spunky bejeweled sandals shipped to most department stores and many independents. Brown also introduced a high-heeled version of the Dr. Scholl's walking sandal.

Opportunities: expect Brown's proprietary brand Naturalizer to enter licensing at some point, hints Byron Norfleet, president of the Naturalizer division. Naturalizer has won points with women 30-50+ for style and comfort.

Sportswear brand Unionbay introduced itself to the trade via Vida (New York) in 2000, and has since landed product in Macy's East and JCPenney.

In corporate trademarks, National Geographic Society reconsidered distribution of its adventure-inspired footwear. Athletic footwear brand K-Swiss will now distribute NGS goods designed by licensee Rugged Shark.

Caterpillar (Peoria, Ill.), made by Wolverine World Wide, has extended into rugged footwear for the office.

Resort brand Club Med, brokered by SloaneVision Unltd., debuted footwear from Braha (New York), which also bowed shoe fashions from Carter's Watch The Wear and Rim Rocka.

Children's footwear looks bright: Spider-Man, Bob the Builder, Star Wars, and Barbie shine strongest at Brown Shoe. Meanwhile, S. Goldberg (Hackensack, N.J.) is spotlighting slippers for Stride Rite and footwear for Stuart Little 2, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Jay Jay the Jet Plane.

Separately, S. Goldberg is making ladies' slippers for Sag Harbor (New York).

In juniors', Steve Madden's (Long Island City, N.Y.) new agent, Jassin-O'Rourke (New York), seeks partners for apparel, fragrance and cosmetics. Belts, handbags, eyewear and outerwear are already assigned. Madden is also a footwear licensee for juniors' sportswear brand L.E.I. (New York).

After a strong 2000, Mudd footwear licensee Prima Royale added Mudd children's shoes in February 2001.

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