Sneakerheads have taken the fashion industry by storm, and the global phenomenon shows no sign of faltering any time soon.
The global athletic footwear market is expected to reach $100 billion by 2025, according to a recently released report from Forward PMX.
On its own, the U.S. is responsible for $21.2 billion in athletic footwear sales each year, the study said. The footwear fixation has also sparked a resale industry now estimated to be worth $6 billion globally, with $2 million of that revenue coming from America alone.
While the report’s data underscores the trend’s obvious popularity at retail, it also dispels some of the commonly held beliefs about the sneaker market. Namely, that the category is driven mostly by male consumers, and that it’s dominated by athletic brands alone.
According to Forward PMX, women drove category growth from 2016-2017, outpacing men’s sneaker purchases five times over.
And, while Nike, Adidas, Converse and Reebok lead in the categories of public awareness and intent to buy, the industry favorites must nonetheless work to defend their market share.
Old school brand Fila, once deeply popular in the 1990s, is going through a renaissance. Rather than rework its designs to appeal to modern consumers, the brand has played upon the culture’s nostalgic leanings by bringing back its once-iconic, chunky-soled “dad shoes.”
The Fila Disruptor (currently the brand’s most popular offering), along with a collaboration with high-fashion label Fendi, have increased year-over-year search volume for Fila by 170 percent.
The direct-to-consumer startup world has yielded standouts like AllBirds and Greats. Up by 66 and 41 percent in year-over-year search volume respectively, the casual kicks could signal a shift toward small, sustainable, specialty styling—even in the clout-obsessed world of sneakers.
Not wanting to be left out in the cold, luxury brands have also been forced to ride the wave of changing consumer appetites.
The rise of athleisure shows no signs of slowing, and fashion houses have rushed to affirm their relevance through collaborations with popular brands and influencers, and pushing athletic-inspired designs of their own.
Driving a chunk of the industry’s growth are resale marketplaces like StockX, GOAT, Grailed and others. Some of these relative newcomers are receiving cash infusions from luxury companies and old school brick-and-mortar retailers eager keep their hands in the highly-lucrative sneaker pot.
Fashion house LVMH invested in resale site Stadium Goods in early 2018, and the company was bought by luxury marketplace Farfetch later that year. In February, Foot Locker invested $100 million in GOAT, which features products from rare collaborations, exclusive drops and designs from across the world.
The world’s obsession with sneakers is about more than aesthetics, Forward PMX’s data showed. The majority (60 percent) of sneaker buyers (those who buy five or more pairs per year) said they believe sneakers are culturally important in today’s society.
Millennial male consumers felt most strongly about that sentiment, with 88 percent of shoppers in this category saying sneakers were an important cultural fixture.