Hanging Shoes 2024 Retail Buyer’s Guide

Flip-Flop and Sandal Market Thrives Amidst Challenges, Embracing Innovation and Sustainability. By Rocio Enriquez.

Despite the challenging weather conditions of the summer of 2023, the flip-flop and sandal market has experienced growth. New designs were well-received by consumers keen on playing with colours and silhouettes on their feet. Amongst men, the preference seems to be casual, easy to wear shoes for all-day use, seamlessly transitioning from the beach to the city. Women also favoured footbed technology that enables versatile wearing, but while the men lean towards neutral tones, women gravitate towards brighter hues.

Constructions

In men’s lines, the footbed is getting a lot of technological attention in order to enhance all-day comfort. Reef are using nitrogen-infused EVA in their updated Phantom 2.0 and the new Cushion Norte, the latter being water-friendly. “The Cushion Norte offers cushioning like no other and is incredibly supportive while remaining unbelievably lightweight”, says Marketing Manager Jenny Cooper. Flojos has created their own Hammock Comfort certification badge for styles featuring their latest technologies. They have a special moulded blown EVA memory foam that is water resistant, and have developed Flo-Jel technology, which consists of a capsule of gel inserted into the heel of the footbed to absorb shock. They also use Memex memory foam and yoga mat footbeds. Foam Life’s new Fresco style is crafted from a brushed sugarcane EVA paired with a natural rubber outsole, with a recycled rubber fleck, rPET toe-post and faux suede padded upper strap. “The new Fresco style is the perfect fusion of a tennis sneaker and beach style”, says Co-Founder Karl Read. Cool’s Goku style has a moulded footbed with a textured sole for active usage. Xtratuf focuses on their Aprés Fish slide made entirely of Bio Lite. This is a low compression, high-performance EVA that delivers superior impact absorption and support. The outsole is slip-resistant. Quiksilver has developed an ultralight injected range with single or double strap slides and a three-point style. They have new all-terrain gum soles on their multi-activity sandals. They also will keep offering their Hydrobound sole on their Rivi slides and slaps.

Women’s constructions benefit from material innovations adapted to feminine looks. Cool offers the Sponge and Sofia styles with fabric straps. Foam Life introduces the Yogi, with sugarcane EVA, yoga mat memory foam, and a woven upper strap. Reef introduces this year the Water Vista Higher, a water-friendly style with an elevated platform. They have also presented their new Bondi collection for women that features three youthful silhouettes, a single bar, a two-bar, and a three point. Flojos is expanding their offering of wide-width sandals with their signature Kush footbed. “The Kush footbed is a squishy mixture of neoprene and EVA foam”, explains Marketing Coordinator Cole Harmening. They also introduce new platform thongs and sandals, while they keep pushing wedges like their popular Olivia, that provide an extra 2 1/2” heel height without sacrificing comfort.

Premium materials do well amongst those looking for an elevated look while delivering superior comfort. Reef’s Ojai collection falls into this category. With a suede upper and glove leather lining, this style is modern and easy to wear. The Ojai is available in a three point, a two bar and a slide version. Flojos offers sandal straps and uppers made of tooled, faux leather with burnished effect, alongside raffia, weaves and metallics.

Sustainable materials are making their way into collections. Foam Life has introduced bio-leather into their men’s line-up, following the success it had amongst women last year. Their Seales Earth style features a brushed sugarcane EVA foam, a vegan bio-leather upper, and a natural gum rubber outsole with a fleck made of grain husk. Also, their new Sharrp & Sharrp slide features the same sugarcane EVA with a textured, polyester fabric strap made from rPET. Cool offers the Byron, a more sustainable sandal with cotton sole and straps. Xtratuf’s Bio Lite EVA has been granted the Green Leaf certificate by Intertek, verifying that it will properly biodegrade in bioreactor landfills.

Looks

Men’s collections offer a tonal palette of classic colours and earth tones. Cool are focussing on these. Reef introduces the new Orion Black across their collection. “You’ll also find a larger range of styles offering sand, tan, fossil and grey colourways”, says Jenny Cooper. Flojos works with ivory, tan, brown, black, and burnt orange. Foam Life keeps their best-selling classic colours in their core men’s styles; black, navy, tan, olive, stone grey and slate grey. They have introduced the more earthy Putty and Earth Brown and there are a few pops of brightness, such as their Clay Red and the neon pink, green and blue highlights found in their 80s themed Traac style.

Women’s collections are brighter. Flojos offers soft pink, matcha green, and sparkly metallics. Reef introduces lime, hot pink, a shade of lilac called Taffy, and sand lime to their Water Vista range. Foam Life combines their neutral sand and latte brown with a sophisticated palette of pastel colours like sage green, powder blue, dusty pink and lilac. Their most vibrant colour is the Neon Orange offered in their Lixi style and as an accent throughout the rest of the collection.

Some prints spice up the offering. Cool chooses floral prints. Xtratuf brings in a range of new swirls. Foam Life carries over the successful animal prints and have updated their palm print. A key print in 2024 is the custom camo design of their Artist Series, seen in the Pampa style. The design is based on an image created by the brand’s co-founder Karl Read, originally painted in 2018 at the Upfest in Bristol.

Sustainability

Not only recycled or biodegradable materials make a product sustainable. How it is manufactured and shipped matters, and brands are well aware. Longevity is key. Flojos focus is on building well-crafted, durable products that serve season after season. They are also developing new kraft hang-tags and hangers.  Xtratuf’s packing is FSC certified. Cool is working on a new protective bag made of paper fibre that will replace plastic in 2025. Foam Life has been committed to sustainability from inception. “We are plastic free in our packaging from the factory all the way to the end consumer. All the materials we use are vegan and PVC free”, says Karl Read. Reef is also plastic free, adding to that a close monitoring of their suppliers. They make sure the factories they work with do not use restricted chemicals. Their leather and suede come from tanneries with gold and silver ratings.

Retailer Support

Creatives have come up with entertaining stories to activate marketing support. Reef presents three stories. In “Bold Behaviour” they encompass women’s and men’s day to night styles, where we find their Water Vista Higher and their Bondi Collection. “In the Flow” showcases water styles and “Performance Comfort” focuses on technical and innovative styles. Flojos intends to spread a relaxed beach state of mind through their “Just Hangin’ Out” motto. Cool equates sandal wearing with freedom in their “Ride your Way” campaign. Quiksilver focuses their marketing efforts on their new injected program. Xtratuf has teamed up with RNLI to share messages of water safety. Not only will they be providing lifeguards across 240 UK beaches with bespoke Aprés Fish sliders, but they will also donate one pound for every pair sold on their website to the charity.

These stories are activated in-store and online. Flojos offers an in-store POP package to all retailers that includes brand displays with a new natural wood logo and reed backdrop. They have updated their slat wall pegs with vibrant sunset-coloured, larger square faceplates. Their display rack has a reed sidewall topped off with the Flojos hammock logo. Foam Life provides a free-standing unit with clear branding and key product and sustainability icons. The design allows two standard stands to be joined together with a wider branded header. This offers flexibility for when the retailers want to increase their assortment. Xtratuf has wall-mounted, free-standing, and countertop displays, as well as recyclable shelf and window displays. They also offer bespoke solutions for retailers that need it. Additionally, each pair of their Aprés Fish sliders comes with a recyclable hanger in the box. Quiksilver and Reef also offer displays and branded fixtures. All brands make sure to provide enough lifestyle and product imagery to support their retailers’ online activations through social media or websites. Xtratuf throws in a stockist’s section on their website to drive customers to their retailer network.

The hanging shoes market has displayed great resilience amidst challenging conditions in 2023. With a steady delivery of innovative designs and strategic marketing support, brands can be rest assured that retailers will sell every pair they make.

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