Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Sneakers that Marry Fashion with Sports

A model presents a creation from the Dolce & Gabbana Autumn/Winter 2018 women collection during Milan Fashion Week in Milan, Italy, February 25, 2018

Luxury fashion and sports are coming together. And it looks as if they have become inseparable. 

Strange bedfellows alright but it is the in-thing now. And yielding big profits for those involved in the business. Already, both luxury groups and sports companies are looking to cash in on a booming market. 

Premium sneakers can start at around $400 but can easily go up as high as $3,000 for a pair of Christian Louboutin’s leather, crystal-embellished sneakers. 

And limited editions can even sell for well over $10,000, including the Chanel X Pharrell Hu Race Trail or Nike’s Air Jordan 3 Retro DJ Khaled Grateful. 

High-end brands such as Gucci, Prada and Balenciaga are increasingly looking to sneakers for growth, putting them in direct competition with sportswear giants like Nike, Puma and Adidas – and creating ever-more striking and swank designs. 

A Reuters report put global sales of sneakers – or trainers – to have expanded by 10 percent to 3.5 billion euros in 2017. 

For sure, sneakers are a big driver of the luxury shoe business – in fact, luxury sneakers represent the fashion industry’s fastest-growing segment. 

Bruce Pas, Men’s Fashion Director at US department store Neiman Marcus – a leading purveyor of the world's most unique luxury goods – trumpets: “It’s not really even a trend anymore – it’s become a category”. 

The rise of luxury sneakers is part of the growing influence of casual and streetwear in high-end fashion, where it is now acceptable to team sneakers with a tailored suit. 

Upmarket brands are tapping into street style to refresh their looks and young buyers are driving the shift. “Millennials” – born between the early 1980s and mid-90s – already represent a third of the luxury market, according to consultancy Bain & Co. 

It has been noted that even with intensifying competition, profits will remain very healthy. 

“There is (a) large space for prices moving up”, said Erwan Rambourg from HSBC. It seems that the ‘luxurization’ of sneakers can only impact margins positively. 

Designer footwear or luxury sneakers or couture sneakers or whatever we may wish to call them – they are a fast-growing market segment. 

Even for sportswear companies, like Adidas, fashion collaborations are not unusual. 

In fact, Adidas recognize that it is a way of expanding their company’s creative ecosystem and keeping consumers engaged and excited by the Adidas brand in a fast-moving market. “These days the pace has become so fast. People go to verticals, like H&M and Zara, and expect new products every month. Even with high fashion labels, it’s the cruise collection and pre-collections; every three months you get something new”, said Dirk Schönberger, creative director of Adidas’ sport style division. 

“We are a very commercial brand, so, of course, we have to deliver – at a minimum every week – something that excites the consumer. The verticals and the [speed of the] Internet have changed the way we do things”, he added. 

When a market opportunity presents itself, you can be sure marketing-driven companies will be in the thick of the action. It’s business, after all!

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