The World Shoe Association, better know as WSA (, has announced that a new event, Materials at WSA, will launch next season in Las Vegas. This new show will feature footwear production-chain exhibitors such as research technology companies and suppliers of leather and synthetics.

Materials at WSA, set to run February 19 to 21, will open two days prior to the actual WSA show and overlap it by one day. (The next WSA is scheduled for February 21 to 23; its more high-end designer “show-within-a-show,” The Collections at WSA, will remain a four-day event at the Venetian Hotel and run February 21 to 24.)

The summer 2007 edition of WSA, which bills itself as “the world’s largest footwear and accessories trade show,” took place in Vegas July 30 to August 2.

This edition put extra emphasis on the “world” part of its name: 25% of its attendants came from outside the United States, an increase of 1.6% compared to the August 2006 edition. The huge show boasted nearly 37,485 participants and 1,500 exhibitors, who ran the gamut from mass-market to high-end, and who unveiled their spring/summer 2008 collections there.

Diane Stone, COO of WSA, said she was happy with the fair’s increasing internationality and noted that this edition saw a 60% increase in the number of buyers from the UK and Germany alone.

In all, the show covered 1,112,750 sq. feet of selling space and for the first time, the main show was held under one roof at the Las Vegas Convention Center. There, hundreds of brands in such sectors as athletic, comfort, outdoor and juniors’, did a brisk business.

Many including Hot Kiss, Carlos by Carlos Santana, Lacoste, Frye, Betsey Johnson, PF Flyers and Guess, featured key new fashion trends, including bright hues, colorful metallics, jelly-like plastics and Lucite, and styles inspired by that preppy favorite, the boat shoe. Stone said of all the color: “I think people want to buy happy things again.”

In the outdoor section especially, but throughout much of the show overall, great emphasis was placed on environmentally friendly “green” styles. Merrell and Patagonia had numerous models made from hemp and even the normally staid Hush Puppies displayed a new an organic collection. In addition, the EcoEthics Conference, a get-together co-sponsored by WSA and Simple Shoes, took place at the Convention Center on the morning of August 1.

At The Collections, which went a day longer than the main show, until August 2, brands including 7 for all Mankind, Nautica, Diesel, Clae, True Religion, Miss Sixty, Killah, J Shoes, Irregular Choice, Camper, Swear and John Varvatos also served up lots of color, plastics and fun, quirky takes on deck shoes. Varvatos’ distressed red leather boat shoe, which looked like the boat it was worn on had been shipwrecked, was a particular standout (pictured above). Slick-looking plimsole sneaker–like models, often in shiny patent leather, were also popular at the show.