Women Prefer Loafers Over Heels

      April 18, 2016 11:43

      A growing number of young women are ditching their high heels in favor of loafers, boosting sales of comfortable shoes. Shoe sections in major department stores are being reorganized to feature predominantly comfortable rather than formal shoes.

      According to Lotte Department Store, casual shoe brands like Camper, Rockport and Gabor saw sales surge 21 percent last year, while sales of formal shoes stagnated.

      Most of the shoe section at Lotte in downtown Seoul is now occupied by casual brands. "Five or six years ago killer heels of more than 10 cm were all the rage," said a Lotte staffer.

      For shoemaker Kumgang, high heels over 7 cm accounted for 83 percent of sales in 2013, but the proportion dropped to 54 percent last year. Meanwhile the proportion of shoes with lower heels rose from 17 percent to 46 percent.

      A Kumgang staffer said, "Young women are opting for practical footwear that's easier on their feet."

      Industry watchers believe casual and comfortable shoes account for 40 percent of Korea's shoe market, which is scaled at W1.2 trillion (US$1=W1,149).

      And the shoe industry is responding to these changes. Tandy, which used to focus on dress shoes, filled up 50 percent of its product lineup last year with low-heeled shoes. As a result, sales that fell five percent in 2014 turned around to rise three percent last year to W98.1 billion.

      Suecomma Bonnie also used to sell mostly high-heeled shoes but has been featuring sneakers over the last two to three years.

      "Not only middle-aged women but those in their 20s and 30s prefer comfortable shoes," a Gabor staffer said. "In the second half of this year we plan to fill 50 percent of our product lineup with comfortable shoes."

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