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O.C. BUSINESS PLUS | HEARD ON THE BEAT / RETAIL

2 Makers Plan to Launch Women's Lines

February 01, 2001|LESLIE EARNEST

Two companies that built their reputations churning out sturdy skate shoes for guys will unveil what they're calling more fashionable styles for women at the show, which runs Saturday through Monday at the Long Beach Convention Center.

DC Shoes Co., which rejiggered two of its men's styles to suit women last year, is now designing shoes just for females. The 2001 line will include the Sera, a slip-on "active, out-and-about urban shoe," and the Aria, a skate shoe built for women.

Showing that it means business, Vista-based DC has hired its first women's shoe designer, Heather Arndt, a former shoe designer for Axion Footwear in Los Angeles.

As usual, DC will be competing with Sole Technology Inc., a Lake Forest company that makes the popular Etnes, eS and Emerica brands for men and is now expanding its women's styles

"We have been doing women's shoes for a couple of years, but this season we're definitely getting more fashionable," spokeswoman Piney Kahn said. "We are pushing to open up the women's market."

Sole Technology's new offerings will include the Iota, which Kahn calls "the most daring of our designs," a trim slip-on shoe; three new sandals for women; and a single-strapped Funnel messenger bag. The new products will be in stores by June, she said.

Although both companies will be making more women's products in the future, high heels clearly are not on the drawing board.

"We don't want to make cheesy shoes that are cute but will destroy your feet in a month," Kahn said. "We're much more into something that is actually functional and not painful."

Leslie Earnest covers retail businesses for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-7832 and at leslie.earnest@latimes.com.

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