Maybe I'm dating myself, but I remember when Skechers (NYSE:SKX) hit the scene with its trademark clunky boots and sneaks, and kids couldn't get enough of them. These days, Skechers produces a wider range of footwear from it traditional athletic fare to straight-laced Oxfords and old-school roller skates.

But Sketcher's abundant products aren't producing abundant sales.

The company took a few steps backward in both sales and earnings -- whoops, make that losses -- for Q4 and full-year 2003. Let's get the homely figures out of the way. For the fourth quarter, net sales dropped 3% to $175.3 million, and losses widened 43% to $0.33 per share. For the full year, Skecher's sales sunk 11.4% to $835 million. Compared to last year's $1.20 per share earnings, 2003's bottom line reads negative $0.31 per stub.

Given the robust retail rebound reported by diverse outfits, from Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and Target (NYSE:TGT) to Ann Taylor (NYSE:ANN) and Chico's FAS (NYSE:CHS), we clearly cannot use the "bad economy" excuse to explain Skechers' problems. Sales have declined every year since 2001. And this year's numbers show gross profit fell by 3%. Oh, by the way, SG&A rose 6%, too. That's no way to tread water when revenues are flagging.

It's not that I'm without compassion. Skechers walks some mean streets in a tough biz. Hey, would you want to try to anticipate fashion trends of today's teens? Competition abounds. In the sporty shoe category, giant Nike (NYSE:NKE) dominates, while scrappy Reebok (NYSE:RBK) strides ahead with its urban and retro lines. In the clunky boot market, Timberland (NYSE:TBL) and Wolverine (NYSE:WWW) have both turned in great years. But that's just the point. Skechers' failure to execute amid a general retail turnaround bodes ill for the company and its stockholders.

Fashion-challenged? Clodding about town in jelly sandals? Get help in the Fool's What to Wear discussion board.

Seth Jayson lost his street cred when he traded in his clunky boots for a pair of sensible walking shoes with a nice wing tip. He has no stake in any company mentioned above.