FDRA, FFANY Join Forces

Matt Priest, president and CEO, FDRA.

The Fashion Footwear Association of New York will become part of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America in a deal set to close later this year. Matt Priest, the president and CEO of FDRA, says the already significant overlap between the two organizations will mean the combined group will be strongly positioned to advocate for the footwear industry both nationally and in New York.

“We’ve been talking about this as a concept for seven years or so,” Priest said. “Our boards share 10 individuals who sit on both boards and there are 14 companies repped on both boards, so there’s a lot of continuity.” Priest said the merger is slated to become official by Oct. 1, but added that the two organizations would be working together starting immediately. “In the meantime, we’ll collaborate as we always have done,” he said.

The FDRA will continue to be based in DC, and will maintain a significant presence in New York. (Last year, the organization opened a branch in New York, as an office share with FFANY.) “One-third of our members are already based in New York, and New York Market Week is very important to us, to have people come to New York to buy and collaborate and gather together, and that will be a priority for us.”

The organization will continue to oversee Market Week in New York. The Footwear Show New York Expo will continue to be run separately. “Our main goal will not be to facilitate the nuts and bolts of shows, but to manage the dates and events and the education, and ensure the showroom members have an advocate with the city and local governments.”

Initial feedback from members and the industry has been positive, Priest said. “I think it’s going to be a great thing for the industry.”