6 March 2020
A seemingly millennial category, sneakers have proved their mettle across markets ranging from luxury to mass. In 2017, the total global sneakers market was valued at approximately US $ 62.5 billion and was forecast to reach US $ 97.8 billion by 2024, according to Statista.
This exponential growth has caught the attention of every brand in the process of capturing the millennial market, a segment of demographics that has surpassed all others. Starting with Balenciaga, the streetwear magnate has changed the game when it comes to footwear. Balenciaga sneakers have permeated street style and culture in the past few years, thanks in a large way to Georgian designer Demna Gvasalia, who took its helm in 2015.
Italian luxury label, Fendi offers stylish sneakers with a difference. Shearling trims, cartoon eyes, pops of colour and embellishments are just a few of the quirky and wonderful features that can be expected when shopping for sneakers with Fendi. Another Italian gem Prada’s iconic chic and eclectic aesthetics are translated perfectly into its footwear range, which currently includes unusual cut-outs, metallic designs and unique prints. Another designer hard to miss is Alexander McQueen. From chunky, oversized styles and straps to studs and even some sea creature embroidery, this collection of shoes is as awe-inspiring and individualistic as it can get.
It’s hard to talk about the sneaker market and exclude the likes of Valentino, Versace, Off-White and Louis Vuitton, who have opened horizons to make comfort chic, all the while maintaining the exclusivity that inspires trendsetters.
Although luxury is gunning for ‘sneakerheads’, the traditional sneaker and sportswear brands are not far behind. Everybody remembers how Adidas took the world by storm when it released its ‘Superstar’ line of sneakers. The story is similar for other sportswear giants like Puma, Nike and New Balance. The millennial demand is something that has kept even the sneaker brands such as Vans and Converse innovating and collaborating to keep their interests hooked on for more as an increasing number of brands foray into a category that was their dominion.
The thrill of standing in line for hours outside your favourite store for that new limited edition sneaker collaboration is a resonating image of exclusivity in sneaker retail. In fact, the ‘drop’ has become somewhat of a norm for unveiling sneaker collections.
A case in point is the launch of the LV Trainer sneaker collection in China in February 2019 by Louis Vuitton, making the announcement via multi-purpose Chinese app WeChat. Burberry and Balenciaga, too, have experimented with pop-ups on the popular Chinese social platform to gain new ground with consumers in the region.
Collaborations have kept the sneaker market flourishing year after year. Off-White has been actively working to capture the market with Virgil Abloh at its head. Introducing multiple collections with some of Nike’s most popular sneakers, the brand has kept itself limited to the sportswear giant for the exclusivity. Yeezy, Kanye West’s line of sneakers, is by far the most popular collection, arguably behind Michael Jordan’s Air Jordans with Nike. Pharrell Williams X adidas Originals Superstar Supercolor, Aleali May X Air Jordan 1, Supreme X COMME des GARÇONS Shirt X Nike Air Force 1, Serena Williams X Off-White X Nike ‘Queen’, sacai X Nike LDWaffle, Louis Vuitton X Virgil Abloh, Fenty Puma by Rihanna are just some of the famous collaborations of the sneaker scene.
Such collaborations and exclusive collections are thankfully not limited to a single purchase cycle. Re-commerce is growing fast and the sneaker resale industry at an even faster rate. The secondary sneaker market has evolved into one with professionalised online marketplaces, including StadiumGoods, Grailed, StockX, GOAT and KLEKT. These provide a digital-savvy audience with a more formalised process and a number of choices. With the sites taking a percentage of every sale, customer loyalty has become a priority.
The incentive for resale speaks for itself as the price inflation and profit for resellers can be enormous. Nike had previously released a Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro ‘Eminem Carhartt’ shoe. According to Detroit News, the ten pairs that were available on eBay sold for a combined total of US $ 2,27,522. Three pairs of that shoe that were available later on Flight Club had prices ranging between US $ 14,000 and US $ 20,000. It is hard to believe that a limited edition basketball shoe could be a collectible worth thousands of dollars – a shoe that will likely never see the light of day.
While resale businesses are finding ways to diversify, the market as a whole is bound to become more accepted by consumers and more authoritative in the sneaker space at large.