Fashion, Feminism and Footwear: 8 Things to Know About the Shoe Business in 2018

In June, Chloe took part in a panel at the Footwear News ‘Women Who Rock’ Summit, to discuss socioeconomic trends and what it’s like running a fashion business in 2018. She was joined on stage by Susanne Botschen, co-founder of MyTheresa.com and MarthaLouisa.com, designer Suzanne Rae Pelaez, and Footwear News’ Executive Editor Katie Abel, who moderated the conversation. Here, we share the most insightful takeaways from the panel.

On What Women Want from their Footwear Today

“People don’t want to carry two pairs of shoes [heels and flats] anymore. We need to ensure that people do feel [beautiful] in flats… It has been an important part of my business for women to feel comfortable in heels and flats. You wear heels for yourself, not a man.” — Chloe Gosselin

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On Using Fashion as a Platform for Feminism

“Practicality is chic... Fashion can be intellectual and it was really important for me to express that through feminism.” — Suzanne Rae Pelaez

On Trends

“I think the self-esteem of women has risen. I admire the young generations now, they’re really cool. They don’t feel dictated-to, and because they don’t feel that, they [dress] better.” — Susanne Botschen

On Working with Retailers Around the World

“There needs to be an open conversation between designers and wholesalers. It’s really important to listen to feedback — what people want in the Middle East or in Europe or here [in the US] is really different. It’s been a hard thing to navigate. So you see collections that are enormous for a young designer. The market is so different everywhere. Which is nice, because it’s got to be different at Martha Louisa or Barney’s.” — Chloe Gosselin

On the Pros and Cons of Social Media

“[Social media is] definitely key but it is harder than it was a while back. At first, social media platforms were great for young designers. [These days] it’s harder because of all the advertising that comes into play. Now it’s for the big players — you have to spend money on ads to get more visibility.

“The best thing about social media is being able to have a conversation with my customer. I know who she is. I like to have that dialogue with them. I always answer everybody and that direct feedback is very precious now. They know who I am, they know my day-to-day… There’s that personal story that we were not able to tell before social media.” — Chloe Gosselin

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On the Rapid Pace of Fashion

“My lesson learned the hard way is that you have to stick to what you know, and what you believe in… It’s trying to find where you belong. Fashion is so fast.” — Suzanne Rae Pelaez

On How New Brands Get Discovered

“The good retailers discover [new brands] by themselves, to be honest. [In turn,] retailers can support [young designers] by giving them a platform to make them known.” — Susanne Botschen

On the Challenges Facing Retailers Today

“To tell you the truth I’m really happy that I don’t have to do a huge amount of ready-to-wear anymore, because trends change more quickly today, and retailers have to do huge budgets on important first lines. It can become challenging, more challenging than it used to be. — Susanne Botschen

Photos courtesy of Footwear News.