Nike and Jordan Brand are the top-selling sneakers so far this year, with basketball and running designs being the most popular. High fashion brands have noticed this, with Balenciaga, Versace, and – of course – Yeezy coming out with luxury sneakers at premium price points.
Producing sneakers is a bold move for many fashion houses. “Brands are… moving away from the safe route of creating the same product in different [colours] for years,” said Matt Cohen, vice president of business development and strategy at Goat Group.
Versace’s Chain Reaction sneaker, despite costing $920, sold out within 24 hours – an incredible feat for a premium-priced, millennial-targeted product. A survey of 2,500 U.S. consumers known as millennials+ or bridge millennials – those 30-40 years old – found the group is a significant market for the fashion industry, which each spending an average of $2,225 per year – almost as much as older, more established generations.
While sneakers aren’t a new product, their design has historically been influenced more by the sports industry than by high fashion. Their sudden premium status has been attributed to millennial demand. “They’re looking for comfort, colour, technology and to be cool and elegant at the same time,” said David Tourniaire-Beauciel, design director of shoes at Balenciaga.” To me it’s about mixing Manolo Blahnik with Nike.”
The next big thing in sneakers is more slyly integrated technology. “You won’t see the technology like memory foam and GPS hidden in the shoe,” said NPD sports industry analyst Matt Powell. “It will be an iPhone for your feet.”