2016-2018 marked the rise of streetwear that changed the aging fashion industry. Sneakers became a strategic item to reach the young market, and social platforms pushed buying power to the maximum. Can the heat shock last as the market gradually saturates with the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic? What factors will change the future of the sneaker industry in the coming years?
The story of famous sneakers being waited for hours, bought, and “spammed” continuously on social networks has become part of many fashionistas’ “fast” lifestyle. Not leaving the market share for pure footwear brands, high-end brands also jumped in to compete for the fertile “pie.” Among them, the most successful can be mentioned Vetements, Balenciaga, Off-White, Louis Vuitton …
But that disturbs the order of the fashion industry as well as the sneaker world. The shoes of high-end brands that look pretty similar to familiar sports shoes are priced higher than they are. Streetwear contributes to the confusion between “one side specializing in sneakers” and “one side making high-end fashion expanding sales with sneakers.” When this wave passes, will this contradiction still exist?
The Covid-19 pandemic not only hit customers’ pockets but also froze the fashion industry. People realize that it is necessary to pay more reasonably for an item based on core values, but the decisive factor in an actual sneaker is the feet’ smoothness, support, and protection. Maybe that perception will bring everything back to balance, which means that the upcoming fashion path will be gradually separated. High fashion returns to the designs that made their name, and sportswear brands continue to play to their strengths in sneakers.
The bright spot from Covid-19 is that it does not affect the sneaker market as much as other industries because although a series of stores have to close a business temporarily, the online sales system and e-commerce still work well. Therefore, the total revenue of this industry is expected to touch over $90 million by the end of 2020. Even though the market development has slowed down from 18.1% (2018) to 13.8% (2019) and touched the bottom of 7.8% (2020) due to the pandemic, experts predict that with consumer shopping habits and economic recovery and stimulus policies, this number will increase to 10% by 2021. However, as mentioned, because consumers will be more thoughtful in their shopping habits, the rate will decrease again in the next three years (2022-2024).
In addition, top-notch marketing strategies will continue to be applied to satisfy both shoe and fashion lovers, including collaborative projects. We have received many notable collabs such as Jordan x Dior, Adidas x Prada, Adidas x Human Made, Nike x Sacai… A familiar but still very effective tactic to both increase the purchasing power and recognition of the brand. Signal in the media.
Most excitingly, new “technology” is the key card to attract consumers in the future development direction of the sneaker industry. Technology will be an epochal race in which the up-to-date and nimble will win. Adidas has shown its superiority when it comes to “Boost” technology. But that’s a thing of the past; when Adidas slumbered on victory, Nike continuously launched a series of unique technologies such as auto-lacing, Zoomfly soles, React soles, Joyride soles … which have brought users a lot of support. More supportive in movement.
Consumers are becoming more and more individualistic. Grasping that mentality, brands began to step in. Typically, NikeiD allows buyers to freely customize the colors, engrave names, or have meaningful quotes on the shoes. While the options are limited, this is a potential stepping stone for the next page in the sneaker industry’s history. In the future, when artificial intelligence and 4D printing technology become more popular, customers will be able to own a more personalized shoe.
Legendary Nike designer – Tinker Hatfield – once commented on the trend of smarting of the sneaker industry as follows: “The product will recognize you, it will adjust itself to suit you and the purpose of use.”. The sneakers of the future will be based on the level of movement that adjusts the bounce of the sole, the tightness of the string to suit the needs of the wearer. And yet, with tracking technology integrated on sneakers and synchronized with smartwatch or smart band, all physical activities from how many steps you take, calories consumed, heart rate … will be notified directly to the user. In the future, this technology will undoubtedly be more widely applied.
And on the way to becoming a “Sustainable Enterprise,” brands must join hands with the burning issues of the times – environmental protection. Promoting and educating consumers to use eco-friendly materials such as recycled materials, not using animal products… is the “new and old” direction of the footwear industry. And high fashion.