The WSA Show in Las Vegas

Innovation is the focus of many of the 1, 600 companies and 6, 000 brands that will showcase footwear and accessories for the global market at The WSA Show in Las Vegas, Feb. 1-4. More than 180 new exhibitors will be participating in this year's show at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Mandalay Bay to attract retailers and buyers to their fall/winter 2007/08 collections.

Technological innovation is most apparent in athletic performance footwear such as Isaac Daniel and Z-Coil . At Fele's Isaac Daniel, the design team has created huge interest with its Compass Global 1000 Inventor's Limited Edition TM, the world's first patented GPS satellite tracking enabled walking shoes. The technology is incorporated into seven different men's and women's models with 19 color combinations. Daniel started work on the idea in 2002 after his son went missing momentarily. The patented Quantum Satellite TechnologyTM in each Compass Global 1000 can be activated with the push of a button to help locate the wearer and facilitate rescue, if needed.

For those who seek more comfort in an athletic shoe, Z-Tech will roll out its second-generation Z-Coil Footwear that features a patented, shock-absorbing design to reduce impact and distribute pressure more evenly across the foot. The new "Freedom 2000" product, with a distinctive conical steel coil, reduces the rate of impact absorbed by the heel to alleviate pain.

Innovation is also apparent among manufacturers who have elected to be socially conscious. Some eco-friendly companies, such as "vegan" brands, Charmone and Earth, are producing new collections that carry no animal products. Others, such as Dan Post Boots Co. and Teva, are launching new collections made from recycled tires and other rubber products. While others, such as TOMS, Chaco, and SmartWool, are donating a percentage of sales to children in need.

For other brands, innovation means providing new flexibility for the consumer. George Taveras created "Jour & Nuit" as the first designer women's collection featuring interchangeable straps that can be removed completely and transferred to any other sole in their line. In handbags, Cambiare Borsellino enters the market at The WSA Show by providing several different handbag "base" styles with interchangeable covers. A retail pack will be available with a base design and three covers, as well as stand-alone base styles and separate cover purchasing options. For children, Zipz will introduce shoes and accessories that literally zip apart to allow interchangeability in tops and bottoms, as well as allow room for children to safeguard keys or other items.

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