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Why $15 Walmart Sneakers Are Going Viral on TikTok

Less than a year after denim customization swept over social media during the early days of quarantine, a new DIY fashion trend has captured Gen Z.

This time, it’s a pair of $15 Walmart shoes taking TikTok by storm.

The mass merchant’s unassuming Time and Tru White Platform Sneakers are the star of the Gen Z-leaning social platform’s latest DIY craze. Videos of users hand painting the affordable shoes have gone viral, earning more than a million likes in at least one case.

The all-white sneakers are most often likened to Nike’s popular Air Force 1s. Though the fad generally sees participants create custom designs, some have taken on popular colorways of the hit silhouette. In one particularly well-executed instance, user meaganfetchhappen remade the Air Force 1 Valentine’s Day Love Letter colorway, going so far as to print out and attach Nike swooshes and logos. Legitimate versions of the Love Letter design fetch more than $200 in many sizes on StockX.

Walmart largely appears content to embrace the trend, commenting on numerous videos and often receiving gleeful replies in turn.

As far back as August, the legacy retail behemoth expressed interest in joining with other American companies to acquire TikTok from Chinese technology firm  ByteDance. Those plans, however, were paused in February as the Biden administration reviews the platform’s data security risks.

TikTok users have been buying $15 Time and Tru White Platform Sneakers from Walmart and painting them
Walmart’s Time and Tru White Platform Sneakers Walmart

Though that deal may be dead for the time being, Walmart has continued to embrace the platform. On Thursday, it hosted a second livestream shopping event on its TikTok channel. Dubbed “Spring Shop-Along: Beauty Edition,” the live event presented skincare, makeup and hair routine demos from a lineup of top content creators, including TikTok star Gabby Morrison. The inaugural December event, Walmart said, netted seven times more views than it anticipated and grew the company’s TikTok followers by 25 percent.

Back in the fall, TikTok revealed a partnership with Shopify. The arrangement gives the social media platform a channel within the online giant’s Shopify Channels, joining competitors like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Google, as well as marketplaces such as Amazon and Walmart. The channel allows for merchants to create and connect their TikTok For Business account and deploy In-Feed shoppable video ads directly within Shopify, so that shoppers can buy products that they see being used or worn in the videos.