In the framework of this year's GDS, the federation of the German footwear industry, HDS, presented new guidelines for its width measurement system for children's shoes, WMS, which were introduced at the end of June. The WMS license, which is given to shoe manufacturers that comply with its standards and guidelines, is held by the HDS.
Until now, only certain German companies were certified to make graded lasts based on WMS standards, leading to high expenses for foreign suppliers. The guidelines have now been relaxed by giving the possibility to other, non-certified last manufacturers, provided their lasts are verified at random by a German institute.
The aim of the innovation is to boost the presence and reputation of the WMS, and to address a broader and more international circle of manufacturers. Some of them complain that the WMS guidelines are protectionist and that they are not followed by the more progressive German retailers.
In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, only six companies adhere to the WMS guidelines and standards in the production of children's shoes. The WMS licensees are Dosenbach Ochsner from Switzerland, which owns the Elefanten brand; the German companies Däumling, NSB Mode (Bause) and Ricosta; and Legero (Superfit) and Richter from Austria.
In Germany, 800 to 900 stores operate under the WMS license, as they use the WMS measuring tools and sell shoes that are produced in accordance with the WMS guidelines and standards.