Tuesday, December 28, 2010


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While comfort is a given in the nursing-shoe market, these health-care professionals are breaking new ground when it comes to footwear. Oblique toes, elastic touches and chunky bottoms, key trends in the mainstream market, are just as important when it comes to nursing shoes.

Funky new styles that typify the taste of fashion-forward nurses have forced comfort-shoe companies to raise the bar when it comes to styling. During the past decade, nurses have discarded their white uniforms in favor of looks in fuchsia and teal. Footwear now needs to be just as hip, said David Ben-Zikry, president of Spring Footwear Corp., Fresh Meadows, N.Y., distributors of the Spring and Fly Flot labels.

The company, which started out nine years ago carrying white clogs, currently offers 17 different styles aimed at the nursing market. Now nurses working in environments outside the hospital, such as doctor's and dentist's offices, are opting for footwear in colors such as beige, bone, tobacco, blue and black, added Ben-Zikry.

Nurses are starting to move away from traditional white footwear and into colors like blue and teal, noted Mark Light, general manager for Bastad Clogs, Seattle. To blend in with the colorful uppers being offered, the brand recently introduced a naturally colored wood-bottom clog. The clog's professional-style sole features more tread and is both oil resistant and nonskid.

Taking the popular clog silhouette one step further is Anywear Shoe Co., Seattle, with its classic waterproof style that can be completely sterilized, making it ideal for hospital use. According to Light, who is also an assistant manager for Anywear, the clog is available in 20 colors, and a hospital in Portland, Ore., is even purchasing a different color of the style for each of its departments.

"There's a segment of nurses and support staff that don't want to look like they've just come off the gym floor," suggested Michael Hammond, general manager for TT Group Inc., Aurora, Mo., Clinic Shoe's parent company, about the numbers of nurses who opt for athletic shoes in the workplace.

While Clinic continues to offer classic patterns, it is venturing into new fashion territory, according to Hammond. The brand will introduce a duo of comfort pumps to wholesale from $39.50 to $42.50. Named the Midtown and the Manhattan, the styles, done on flexible constructions, are leather lined and feature removable footbeds. Extra cushioning makes them easy to wear all day, added Hammond.

Athletic footwear was once a mainstay of the nursing market, said Ben- Zikry. "The comfort and look of these [athletic] shoes left many of the nursing shoe manufacturers behind the trend." However, he noted, athletic-shoe producers made little effort to chase aggressively this market, leaving the field wide open for footwear companies ready to offer today's nurses the best of both worlds -- fashion and comfort.

Opting to extend its consumer reach beyond the nursing market, Dansko Inc., West Grove, Pa., refers to its category of black-and-white service-oriented clogs as occupational, according to Stephanie Taylor, marketing director. These classic designs on flexible bottoms appeal to men and women in the medical field, as well as to those in the food services and salon industries. But, added Taylor, nurses have begun moving away from white footwear, because more color is being used in uniforms.

The company had planned to break into uniform stores with its collection, said Taylor, but found by talking to nurses that many buy their work shoes where they buy their everyday wardrobes. In fact, said Taylor, comfort-specific retailers like The Walking Company are now carrying nursing styles.

Dansko offers the medical community designs from both its traditional Dansko line and its more contemporary Solvei collection, all at wholesale prices of $40 to $45. Included in the product lineup are classic open-back styles, as well as updated closed-back versions.

Today's nurses are demanding contemporary footwear looks, according to Martha Burns, marketing manager for Hudson, N.H.,-based Lowell Shoe Co., which offers the Nurse Mates line of professional shoes. The line has built a loyal following with its hand-sewn shoes done on authentic moccasin construction, said Burns.

However, Lowell is appealing to style-setting nurses with a trio of comfort looks based on an opanka construction, a design device borrowed from Lowell's sister brand, Born, owned by H. H. Brown. This new collection of "younger, hipper, more happening looks" features a European-inspired oblique-toe last, said Burns, and wholesales at $20 to $30.

The more classic Nurse Mates label, still considered the cornerstone of the brand, is available in a range of sizes and widths. Cushioned insoles and flexible unit bottoms are important to Lowell customers. The brand also carries a lower-priced series called Supremes, which wholesales at $45.

Source Citation
Schneider-Levy, Barbara. "KICK OFF NATIONAL NURSES WEEK ON MAY 6 WITH FOOTWEAR AIMED AT TODAY'S STYLE-SAVVY NURSES." Footwear News (1999): 16. General OneFile. Web. 28 Dec. 2010.
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