Slippers will still rule in 2021, according to Ugg, Dearfoams & More – Footwear News
You knew times were changing early last year when high heels started collecting dust in closets and Instagram feeds filled with influencers in sweatpants with big balls of down on their feet.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began to upend standards last year, ‘at home’ leisure wear has gained major momentum, which has been accompanied by an increase in slipper sales – a trend that shouldn’t be slowing down anytime soon, experts say.
While the comfort shoe category was already accelerating before COVID-19, it saw an inevitable increase last year, with slipper sales, in particular, increasing 21% from 2019, according to The NPD Group. Inc. Meanwhile, sales of fashion footwear, including heels, sandals and boots, declined 27% for the year.
Beth Goldstein, footwear and fashion accessories analyst at NPD, predicted further gains for slippers in early 2021, followed by a gradual leveling off later in the year. However, she noted that the slipper trend could be here to stay: “Innovation continues in the category and a lasting focus on the home wardrobe – even as we start to return to office life and to social events – could allow category sales. to stay high.
And overall comfort will remain important, even in non-slip footwear, Goldstein added.
In September, 70% of consumers polled told NPD that once they can resume their work and normal activities, they plan to dress as or more simply than before the pandemic. This shift in consumption has prompted established slipper brands to step up their game, expanding their selection of indoor-outdoor styles or hard-soled shoes. At the same time, many new entrants have materialized as they seek to capitalize on the boom, bringing new enthusiasm and competition to a normally niche market.
Traditional comfort brands found themselves in a good position last year, with consumers looking to prioritize convenience. According to the Lyst Index’s quarterly ranking, searches for casual items such as slippers soared 242% in the fourth quarter, compared to the same period in 2019.
Ugg was leading the pack.
Searches for Ugg shoes increased in the last quarter of 2020, affecting both men and women. For example, the Ugg Scuff Deco slippers made an appearance on the list of the most popular products for men, while its Classic Ultra Mini boots were at the top of the list for women. Ugg was also a determining factor for Deckers Outdoor Corp’s record performance. in the third quarter, the brand’s sales jumped 12.2% to $ 876.8 million, fueled by significant growth in unconventional footwear, including slippers and the now ubiquitous Fluff franchise.
According to Deckers CEO and Chairman Dave Powers, the Fluff Series has been a compelling acquisition vehicle to guide buyout decisions and has helped grow the brand’s 18- to 34-year-old population. Ugg President Andrea O’Donnell said the increased consumer attention made sense: “We have a real heritage in the slipper category. So it was expected that in a work from home capacity we would see more business. “
For 2021, Ugg continues to focus on introducing new styles and updating its icons. This spring, the brand added more Fluff Yeahs to its assortment, with new colourways, durable outsoles and strappy silhouettes for the warmer months.
Executives noted that the key goal this year is to create comfortable looks that are multifunctional and reach a diverse audience.
“We have already established that most of our [slipper] styles have indoor / outdoor versatility and serve many purposes in the lives of our consumers, ”said O’Donnell. “Our upcoming ‘Feel You’ campaign is all about style and individuality and features creatives who all wear key styles in different ways. “
Meanwhile, Dearfoams has expanded its product offering to compete in an increasingly crowded market. For more than 70 years, the heritage brand has been an accessible mainstay for consumers looking for slippers, but it now enters the everyday footwear category with the The Original Dearfoams Comfort collection, which launched in early February and delivering the sensation. from a house slipper into a slip-on sneaker silhouette.
“Consumer behavior and needs have fundamentally changed over the past year and will not back down,” said Angela Kenney, vice president of merchandising and design at Dearfoams. “As we look to the future, we’re going to be inspired by the consumer, who clearly leads the brand towards everything that’s comfortable in the home and beyond. The casual and “buy now, wear now” trends have allowed us to excel given the ease of access of our brand and our products. “
Bob Mullaney, CEO of Dearfoams parent company RG Barry Brands, added that wise measures before the pandemic set the stage for these new opportunities. “Investing in new products and entering the mutton segment with 100% authentic Australian mutton has enabled RG Barry to be ready when consumer trends accelerate,” he said.
Likewise, Minnetonka also found herself well positioned during the height of COVID, thanks to an earlier decision to focus on slippers. President Jori Miller Sherer said the category has been part of Minnetonka’s assortment since its inception 75 years ago, but in 2019 the brand launched a new line called Home & Away that offered comfortable indoor-outdoor styles. . Then in 2020, Minnetonka introduced the slides, which were a hit.
“We actually did this as a test and it continued to sell. This year is going to be a big category for us, ”said Miller Sherer. “We think the warm atmosphere is going to be there for quite a while. We go out every month for our 75th anniversary, and we do extra outings all the time on our website.
While the shift from consumers to slippers has proven to be beneficial for powerful players in the industry, it has opened the door for others to take a piece of the pie.
An unexpected newcomer is the men’s dress shoe brand Florsheim, which previously had a slipper in its range. But after the pandemic brought office life to a halt, the brand took an aggressive turn and developed a new line of home comfort footwear.
“When COVID arrived, we started getting calls from our retailers asking if we had slippers. They were canceling our dress shoes, ”explained President Kevin Schiff. “We really went to work. We found that working from home was only a small part of the lifestyle change that was happening. So we looked at it like, ‘Why are we building? How do we live our life differently? “
Enter the Short Commute collection, which will be launched this spring. The shoes are designed with non-slip, non-marking outsoles, water resistant uppers, and come in clog and moccasin silhouettes.
Even without seeing the samples firsthand, Florsheim’s wholesale partners, from Zappos to Macy’s, jumped on board. “We have sold more of them than any other item in our line,” added Schiff.
Major slipper brands say they’re not keeping pace with this increased competition, but it’s clear they’re not staying complacent. Beyond the steps taken by Ugg, Dearfoams and Minnetonka, Lamo last fall introduced Lamolite, a line of everyday casual shoes for men and women. And this month, Birdies, the 6-year-old slipper startup, showed off their first sneaker silhouette, The Swift.
The Luxury POV
As the high fashion and comfort markets intersect like never before, it’s no surprise that luxury brands are also looking to cash in on the slipper craze. On the catwalks this season, premium menswear brands including Fendi, Dries Van Noten, JW Anderson and Alyx showcased comfort-focused styles ranging from comfy socks to sheepskin scuffs. And almost all brands, including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Coach, now have at least one slipper silhouette in their collections. But for some shoemakers, slippers are now the way to make a splash with consumers.
For British designer Olivia Morris – who had her own namesake line in the 2000s and worked for well-known brands such as Hobbs and Lulu Guinness in recent years – launching an eponymous brand in today’s market required a unique perspective – and it was wrong. be heels. Instead, she’s betting big on slippers after seeing a gap in the market for stylish options.
“This is absolutely a woman who wants to dress at home, who wants to feel chic and fashionable. The fact [that the shoes] are comfortable is the added bonus, ”she said of her glamorous house mules made in Spain. Olivia Morris At Home is designed as beautifully as any high heel, with vibrant and feminine prints, colors and trims. It’s a nod to nostalgia, but for a customer of today. hui with today’s needs, “Morris said. The idea seems to echo: the line has been taken over by Shopbop, Hampden Boutique and Capitol & Canary, and is also selling on its e-commerce site.
For luxury brand Zyne, known for its traditional Moroccan-made slipper styles, the pandemic has changed the fashion landscape, prompting the founders to enter the home category in 2021 with a variety of slippers.
“With the lock in place, the majority of people didn’t go out, so their shoes were left unused in their closet. We decided to launch our in-house range because we understood that investing in a pair of slippers was more valuable than [investing] in a pair of slides or heels that you weren’t able to realistically use at the moment, ”said co-founder Zineb Britel.
Now, with this entry into comfort, Zyne is able to target a different audience through the new styles, as well as drastically lowering its prices. (The home collection starts at $ 150, compared to $ 290 to $ 440 for its base pieces.)
Co-founder Laura Pujol said: “It was a turning point for our brand. We never imagined launching a collection for the home, but we realized that looking good to others should be just as important as looking good to yourself.