It may be cold, dark and wet but we've been hard at work to being you some cheer in the form of a feature-packed bumper issue of Futura for February.

footfrontcovThe 52-page issue covers not just ladies' fashion but also men's and, to a lesser extent, children's. We've even packed in an extensive look at the latest footwear. Our focus, as with our January issue, is on the AW14 collection and, as such, we've scoured countless collections and catwalks to bring you the need-to know on the leading ranges, the hottest trends and the key pieces.

We're not here to simply preach, though; we're happy to listen, too. To this effect, we've spoken to 12 independent retailers (six in menswear and six in ladieswear) across Ireland to find out their respective experiences of the recent Christmas sales. Their views and verdicts can be found on pages 26 and 50. Elsewhere, retailer Declan Mahon talks to us about his new dress hire store in Dublin (P.14), Frank Lyman reveals the thinking behind his eponymous fashion label (P.32) and Raymond Davern Jnr of Daverns of Cashel speaks to us about the Tipperary shop's exciting evolution.

With all this plus much, much more, we're sure you'll enjoy the read!

Alex Fitzgerald, Features Editor



The recent appalling weather, which was experienced right across Europe, has had a huge impact on the styles and types of footwear to the fore for AW11/12, as seen in both our Trends piece (pg. 12) and The Collections (pg. 34.)

For ladies daywear, boots are the business, with biker and mountain styles the most popular. Anything connected with snow is, ironically, hot. Seriously hot. Fake fur, sheepskin and shearling are de rigueur for the lining of real leather boots. Rubber, heavy plastic and cleated soles that offer grip on compacted ice and snow, are a must, while waterproofing promises to be the attribute customers will be calling for when buying for their Autumn/Winter footwear wardrobe. Gore-tex? Sympatex, anyone?footfrontcov

For eveningwear or less casual daywear, watch out for the shoeboot. Back again, even bigger than last year, all that's changed are the colours — bottle green and grey have taken over from purple and red as the colours of choice.

In mens' footwear the boot also reigns supreme — bikers, mountain, desert, Chelsea all will be on shelf in stores where trends are important. Shoes are more sophisticated with suede and the classic correspondent shoe making a comeback. As for kids? That's easy. For AW11/12 they're mini-mes. Anything that goes for adults goes for kids too.

Apart from sharing upcoming trends with you, this issue of Footwear in Ireland has some great reading, focused on the footwear scene. Appropriate for the time that's in it Claire Franks advises on how to make the most of your time at a Trade Fair (pg 49) while Margaret O' Brien reviews the shows that have taken place recently and previews those still to happen. Eve Ward talks to Marcus Baker, (pg.31) a regular shoe rep who hits the highways and by-ways on behalf of his company and has a unique take on the business. Our regular report on The Year that Was – where retailers tell it as it really was, is compiled this year by Jean Guerin on pg.50.

Finally, Jean has also compiled a preview of Broga — Ireland's first dedicated footwear fair. Taking place at the end of this month (Feb. 27/28) at the Glen Royal Exhibition Centre in Maynooth, Bróga is a one-stop shop for footwear suppliers and buyers to meet, at one central venue in Ireland.
What a time and energy saver! Check out the Bróga preview on pg. 18 and see if you dare miss it…

Best wishes

Jacinta O'Brien





I was reminded of my mother's insistence on "good shoes" for which she promised we'd thank her for, in later life, when reading Bernard O'Brien's piece regarding the Society of Shoe Fitters (pg.40). Not a man to pull his punches, Bernard is strongly critical of the lack of knowledge in many of Ireland's shoe stores. "Too many people working in the retail footwear industry have NEVER seen shoes being made and wouldn't know a toe puff or a heel stiffener from a bull's foot " he says, as he argues the case for more training.

footfrontcovBernard's interview is one of many in this story-led issue. ( We thought you might be cutting back on your suppy of Hello! so we're doing our best to fill the breech!) Jimmy Fox, whose shop is 100 years in business this year, is equally forthcoming in his views (pg18). he reckons the reason why the business has survived so well is down to it being an independent. Declan Mc Chesney and Joe Boylan, on either side of the border (A Tale of Two Towns pg.20) are equally well positioned to give a view. Joe is virtually from footwear royalty, while Declan's business (Cahill Bros. Newry) is the oldest shoe store in the north. Both put their staying power down to customer service. Plain and simple.

Elsewhere in the magazine, Tara Carroll (Former Editor) takes a pair of GoGreen hiking boots on a trial run...up the inca trail. See how she, and they, fared on page12. We've also got lots of news for you, the popular Collections feature which signposts what top brands are up for S/S11 starts on pg32, we have Trends on pg 28 and Paul Golden's business report on pg.22 makes for interesting reading.

Best wishes

Jacinta O'Brien






Welcome to a New Decade, a new season, and out 10th anniversary issue of Footwear in Ireland!

It’s difficult to think about the year 2000 as ten years ago now, but looking back to where we all were then makes you realise how much has changed. We take a stroll down memory lane on p.14, seeing what and who is still on the footwear scene since our launch. One of the most striking things we’ve FWMarchcovernoticed is that despite the fl urry of glamour, fast turnover and increased desire for branding that the Celtic Tiger brought with it, the core values of reasonably priced, quality, comfortable footwear have transcended the years – just a glance at the key trends for Autumn Winter 2010 (from p.18 onwards) confi rms this. Many of the brands that supported us when Footwear in Ireland fi rst began are still going strong because of their ability to provide this while reacting to adjustments in the market.

On the subject of change, this is my last issue of Footwear in Ireland magazine, and I’d like to take the opportunity to bid you all a heartfelt farewell. In the time I’ve worked here I’ve had the good fortune to work with some of the most genuine, professional people, and while our feature 2009: The Year That Was on p.44 demonstrates that footwear retailers, agents and brands are giving everything they’ve got in the fi ght for survival, now that the economy is beginning to even out I’m only sorry that I won’t be here to see good times return to retail. One thing’s for sure – with the resilience and strength of this country’s independents, recovery is already underway.

Adapting and evolving – whether through life or work – can be a real positive; when it comes to the footwear market, it means there’s always something new to get excited about. Thinking along alternative lines in creative terms can individualise your business, and this issue marketing guru Greg Canty takes us through the basics of social networking – how it can gain you new customers, and why novices shouldn’t be afraid of it! Elsewhere on p.24 we take a look at the phenomenon of temporary retail outlets that ‘Pop Up’ and pop right back down after a limited time.

Footwear in Ireland will be back in August for the launch of the seasonal Spring Summer 2011 collections. In the meantime, I wish each and every one of you the very best of luck for the future.

Best Wishes,

Tara Carroll, Fashion Editor


Spring Summer 2010, Providing Indies With an Advantage?

Hello again, and welcome to our Spring Summer 2010 preview edition of Footwear in Ireland.
Over the last six months since our March issue retailers have had to fight to keep their heads Footwear Cover 0809above water, uncertain of what the next week, let alone month, would mean for their business. While the country is most certainly still in the depths of tough times, shops have shaped up, reassessing their offerings and going the extra mile with customer service. Talking to consumers, there seems to be a general consensus that after months of tightening their purse strings, they are cautiously getting ready to spend on fashion and footwear again. Not on vast amounts, but they are reverting back to traditional values and buying better, looking for quality, comfort and individuality.

These elements were at the core of many of the new footwear collections we’ve seen over the past few weeks, and the Spring Summer 2010 season is looking very strong for this reason. While there are some brands that seem to have gone off on a tangent, those that have managed to evolve their offering while maintaining a consistency with their brand are the ones that have proved most successful.

The trends for SS10 do provide independents with an advantage – comfort footwear and a mix of materials are hard to produce well on the cheap, and it seems likely that consumers will turn towards their tried and trusted brands and shops to source these. On the fashionable footwear side, there will always be a thirst for new, and some of the more innovative brands certainly delivered for SS10. Newness might be scary but keeping abreast of emerging labels is another way to stay ahead of the game, and there are one or two exciting new brands that have emerged this season – whether or not buyers have the confidence to buy into them right now is the question though.
Finally, whether you’ve bought into the old favourites, the exciting brands or a mix of both, being motivated to sell the Autumn Winter collections which are hitting the shops now is important. Gearing up for this after the draining buying season and challenging sales may be difficult, but take a step back, assess yourself and your staff and make an extra effort to lift spirits in store – I guarantee this will affect how your customers see you. Our piece on motivation in the workplace (on p.10) may help with this. See you in March for the launch of the Autumn Winter 2010 collections.

Best Wishes,

Tara Carroll, Fashion Editor



Personal Service, Personal Attitude & Personal Offering – The Key to Great Retail

First things first, let’s get the unavoidable part out of the way. Yes, we’re in a recession, and yes, this season – and next – will be tough. But enough has been said and written on the topic already, and I refuse to become another mouthpiece of gloom. It might be easy, but falling victim to the depression sweeping the country is not the way to go. Instead, take a look at the areas within your control.

footwear coverServicing your customer is more important than ever, and one thing independents remain competitive in. Discounting is par for the course all over the high street, and cutting prices will be an impossible way to compete with multiples. Highlight the areas that independents are best at, and excel in these. Your customer base are worth investing time and effort in, as their loyalty will be priceless over the coming months. Make sure your staff are well trained and know the value of your customers. Keep on the lookout for ways to provide unbeatable or unique service and act upon feedback when you get it.

One of the vital areas of customer service often goes unmentioned, but now is the time to really work at reaching – and maintaining – a positive atmosphere throughout your business. Examine your mindset. Do you believe you will survive and be successful in 2009? If you are to do either, you
will need to believe that you can, and behave like you believe it. Do whatever you have to do to boost your mood, and your employees’ will follow. An unshakeable positive attitude, once reached, breeds more of the same, and giving your customers a break from the apocalyptic predictions they’re experiencing everywhere else is a key aspect of customer service that, if genuine, will pay off.

Now, to footwear for A/W09. The mood at trade fairs was surprisingly buoyant, with Moda UK really lifting the spirits of the Irish retailers who visited. The key trends to have emerged are really lifestyle themes, with fashionable, casual practicality taking precendence over glamour, quality and comfort footwear gaining importance, and a growth in ecological consciousness throughout the sector. Trends are varied, but boots in a range of styles are the absolute for the season, for men, women and children. In the midst of the credit crunch the middle market appears to be strengthening for footwear, with cheaper brands lacking quality and the higher end seeming just a price point too high for many. With an abundance of styles on offer, the options could be confusing. But what A/W09 is offering buyers is the opportunity to really hone their purchases for next season to match the character of their store. Your buys should refl ect the personality of your business, and give your core customers a fresh offering that, along with your customer service, they just can’t resist.

Until next season,

Tara Carroll, Fashion Editor




You may recognise me as a new face, and I’m pleased to introduce myself to you as Footwear in Ireland’s new fashion editor, Tara Carroll. If you have any queries, comments or news, please do not hesitate to contact me at

footwear coverI join during a turbulent time for the industry. Footfall is down, so too in many cases are profits. Perhaps most notable though, is the low morale amongst footwear retailers. And although it may take a little effort, this is something that (unlike other business factors) can be changed without costing you money. The recessive market will no doubt result in tough times for all retailers, but independents will also be presented with opportunities as a result of this. Now is the time to assess your business, and make the most of your assets, whatever they may be. Perhaps you have a loyal customer base, or can offer the consumer something different – capitalise on this! New approaches and alternative products are what is needed to tap into niche markets, as our interview with Dubarry proves – while Irish consumers may be familiar with the company due to their popular ‘Dube’ deck shoe, they are in fact making strides (and profit) in the Marine and Outdoor sectors. Also in this issue, we look at a young footwear and accessory designer, Charlotte di Cataldo. Her innovative, fashion-forward designs illustrate the stand-out styles that consumers will be looking for amongst the bland sameytype shoes that multiples offer – and these alternative pieces are something that independent retailers are in the perfect position to provide. Amongst the trends for Spring/Summer 2009 there is a clear change in this direction, with a vast range of different styles, shapes and colours. Colour is back in a big way after a few dull seasons palette-wise, and the eco-shoe is another key trend area. In this issue we bring you the low-down on the principle trends alongside reviews of the latest collections from a host of brands – use it, get excited, buy into it, and most of all, enjoy it!

Until next season,

Tara Carroll, Fashion Editor

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