WSA (World Shoe Association)  Las Vegas:  10-13 February 2004

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As self-appointed ambassadors for emerging design talent, Apparel Search's editorial team attended this month's World Shoe Association trade fair in Las Vegas with the sole purpose of tracking newness.  We hoofed through suites at the Venetian, trekked the aisles at Mandalay and even endured a pilgrimage to Stuart Weitzman's private ballroom at the Bellagio and were not disappointed!

Taking a stand as project-oriented collaborators with architectural aspirations, the United Nude duo followed the Spring 2003 launch of their patented Mobius silhouette with this season's ode to Charles & Ray Eames
iconic Lounge chair.  The result - a swivel-leg metal heel to soon grace the gams of fashionistas worldwide.  This team's strong sense of manipulation also inspired a series of deconstructed silhouettes featuring raw seams, inside-out fabrications & exposed plastic heels.

Leading the way with exadurated proportions, extended pointy lasts and unexpected color, Debut premiered a tight collection for men and women offering up dress shoes with a sporty flair.  Patrizia Montanari was on hand to explain the company's commitment to edgy styling and extreme lasts with a young, Italian spirit.

After tracking down our favorite microbrand, Alima footwear, we were delighted to preview this quirky line with Jose Moran, sales and marketing director for Ras footwear in Spain.  Sporty-inspired silhouettes, perf details, pop colors, rubberized lasts and masterful flats define this cult-hot resource.

Dublin native Eileen Shields launched her signature collection, a ladylike offering of riding boots, ballerinas, D
Orsays and pumps in classic luxury materials.  After 10 years as an award-winning footwear designer for Donna Karan, this collection finally gives voice to Eileen's technical prowess and sophisticated style sensibility.  A real achievement is her expert treatment of sexy flats.

Newcomer George Esquivel showed off his sharp shoes for sharp men, a collection rooted in the nostalgia of 50's California and championed by specialty retailers like Fred Segal.  This season collaboration with the Peterman car museum produced a range of natty wingtips and other custom silhouettes, all produced onsite in Orange County under the designer's scrupulous eye.

This season footwear licensing giant, Global Brand Marketing, quietly launched Dry-Shod, a specialty mens and womens collection with a refined urban personality intended for limited distribution. Territory Manager Gladys Cutler, a recent hire from Bally, describes the range as unique and specialized.  We fell in love with the pointy hand-lasted moccasins and luxurious naked vachettas.

Winning the award hands-down for energy, style and enthusiasm was the Sixty USA team, which distinguished itself once again by setting up shop at V Bar with the Miss Sixty and Killah footwear range.  A possee of efficient young execs premiered the collections, focused on boxing/wrestling boots, athletic-inspired dress shoes and glammed-up metallic sneakers.  Ones to watch
designer rainboots with attitude.  Who doesn't need a pair?!!

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