Last Wednesday, shoe retailer and designer Skechers (NYSE:SKX) reported a strong quarter that came in ahead of analyst expectations. The market liked what it saw, but does the company represent a stock Fools can purchase and hold for the long term?

For the quarter, net sales advanced 21.4%; the company stated it saw strength across all "channels of distribution", such as domestic and international wholesale, retail, and "other," which includes online sales channels. The company press release cited strong shoe sales; current product lines are proving popular, along with newer ones like Soho Lab Fashion, Kitson, and Zoo York footwear. This and successful advertising efforts were credited for helping increase volume, and for higher selling prices during the back-to-school season.

Profitability also increased during the quarter, as gross profit rose from 42.3% to 44.2%, and diluted earnings grew an impressive 63.3% to $0.49, though $0.03 was related to a reversal of an income tax item. That was well ahead of the $0.40 analysts were projecting.

Management also increased guidance for the fourth quarter and rest of the year. It now expects fourth-quarter sales in the range of $255 million-$265 million and diluted earnings of $0.22 to $0.27. For 2006, it is now projecting earnings between $1.49-$1.54, for a forward P/E of approximately 20.

All in all, this very positive quarter sent the shares up more than 10% right after the earnings release. If results keep coming in ahead of analyst projections, stock performance will duly reward shareholders. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell just how long Skechers' shoes will remain popular. Footwear is based on fads and trends, and consumer tastes are fickle; today's popular pair of shoes can collect dust on the shelves tomorrow as fashionistas move to the next hot item.

Skechers prides itself on a diverse assortment of shoe styles and caters to men, women, and children in both the casual and dress footwear categories. But its focus on a younger demographic only increases its dependency on having to sell the popular style of the day. Again, Skechers is hitting on the fashion trend for the time being, but unless Fools have particular insight into how long it will remain there, I'd recommend picking up some shares during the next fashion faux pas, increasing the chances of buying low to sell at a higher point later on.

For a potential contrarian play, Timberland (NYSE:TBL) is seeing some difficulties in moving its footwear off the shelves. To see just how far the fashion hype can take a company, check out fellow Fool Nate Parmelee's recent write-up on Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX), or how UGGs are driving the fortunes of Deckers Outdoors (NASDAQ:DECK) these days. How far they will run is anybody's guess, but the music almost always stops eventually.

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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann has no financial interest in any company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.