Shoes were the talk of the town last week in Las Vegas.

The summer 2008 edition of WSA drew an estimated 29,515 participants from 99 countries/territories, representing a 2.8% increase over the February show.

Held at the Las Vegas Convention Center from July 28 to 30, the show featured thousands of brands in the Comfort, Rugged/Outdoor, Women’s, Men’s, Junior/Contemporary and Athletic categories, among others. For the second time, the Junior Contemporary section featured a special section called The Box at WSA, which showed contemporary, trend-driven handbags and footwear in an open, hip boutique-style environment. New and established labels there included Velvet Angels, Sergio Tomani, Gwyneth, Boutique 9, Dikuza, Sacha London, Dulce, GogoGear, Anouk, NeuAura, Peta Martin, Joan & David, Manas Spa, Kathryn Amberleigh, Tara Crystalle, YOU by Crocs, Nina, Charles David and Kowalski.

One highlight of WSA was on Monday when singer Fergie made a live appearance at the Brown Shoe Company booth to launch her rock-influenced new lines, Fergie and Fergalicious by Fergie. Both will debut in stores for spring 2009.

As usual, WSA’s show-within-a-show, The Collections at WSA, held at the Venetian Hotel, featured more than 350 high-end designer women’s and men’s footwear, handbag, and jewelry brands. The Collections also had a new section, C7, which spotlighted modern edgy styles in the athleisure lifestyle arena. Brands that were on display in that area included Auri, Piloti, DETNY by Shane & Shawn, Fly London, Hudson, J Shoes, Monderer for Jump, PF Flyers, Ryan Rowe and True Religion. The Collections also featured the US debut of G-Star’s footwear line, which has been available in Europe for several seasons.

Several cool brands that had previously shown at The Collections did not return this season and instead showed at a new show, Compass, produced by the organizers of the Capsule show, New York’s BPMW agency. Taking place at the Alexis Park Resort on Monday and Tuesday, the fledgling fair showed great promise and featured 43 ultra-hip sneaker and shoe brands such as Alife, Clae, Converse, Creative Recreation, Fred Perry, Grenson, The Vael Project and 3:33 in a relaxed and open environment.