Footwear industry experts helping the BFA bring you the important issues and discussions of the day

The BFA is delighted to introduce two new contributors to the BFA website who will both be writing twice monthly articles focusing on some of the hot topics facing the footwear industry in 2020.

We asked both some quick questions to find out a little bit more about them and their work:

Andrew Thompson:

1.Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Andrew Thompson and have over twenty years experience as a footwear trend forecaster and creative/ design director. I have worked with brands such as Kurt Geiger, Topman, Nicole Farhi, French Connection and Clarks to name but a few. I now run a successful consultancy in innovative design, brand development and sourcing that’s tailored for retail and branded businesses—concept to completion.

2.Why does the footwear industry interest you and why did you choose this industry?

Having grown up a sneaker freak and had family members in the industry it was always destined. Having graduated from CSM I landed my first job in the industry at 22 and have never looked back. Footwear is completely transformative – the right shoes may not help you conquer the world as someone once suggested, but they can help take life’s ups and downs in your stride.

3.What are your thoughts on the footwear industry as a whole at the moment (ie new ideas, designs, future of the high street etc)

Moving through the next decade, this will be an intense time of excitement and challenge requiring us to be agile in all aspects of life. In spite of all cynicism and uncertainty many consumers still look to honest and authentic brands for guidance in purchasing. Consumer behaviour has massively shifted and brands need to talk to consumers hearts as well as their heads. From creating empathic digital content or creating more bespoke shopping experiences acknowledging everyone is different – new consumerism is constantly evolving.

4.What will you be writing about for the BFA?

As the pace of change quickens due globalised capitalism, stability is no longer the norm this is replaced by expectation of the unexpected. I’ll be writing about seasonal trends creative, cultural and sociopolitical exploring the impact on the footwear Industry. Hopefully canvasing topical thoughts and insights that I am experiencing working with clients. I would very much like to connect with the BFA audience and love to hear from you.

Susannah Davda: 

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Susannah Davda, and I help people to grow or start shoe businesses. I’m also passionate about empowering women to make better decisions about the shoes they buy. After 17 years working in the footwear industry, I launched my business The Shoe Consultant in 2015.

Why does the footwear industry interest you and why did you choose this industry?

It has always been about shoes for me, ever since I started working in shoe shops at the age of 16. Once you catch the shoe bug, it doesn’t leave you. Shoes have the power to boost or sap our confidence; to make or break an outfit; and to prompt conversation. Shoe people are good people.

What are your thoughts on the footwear industry as a whole at the moment (ie new ideas, designs, future of the high street etc)?

Many retailers and brands across luxury, premium and mid-market sectors have responded to market challenges by becoming risk-averse. This has made for an unexciting shopping experience for customers. The companies who are thriving are those who are agile enough to respond to their customers’ rapidly changing desires: those who take risks and try new products and ways of selling.

What will you be writing about for the BFA?

With great change comes opportunity. I’ll be writing about how retailers and brands can evolve and thrive, in this rapidly changing world. I have the advantage of working closely with customers through my speaking engagements. I’ll share my suggestions for how we can solve those customers’ problems, with the BFA’s audience of footwear professionals.