“Fashion sneakers are the statement piece of the moment, and the growth is explosive,” says Eric Jennings, vice president and men’s fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue. Men’s shoes represent the fastest growing sector in men’s fashion and an impressive percentage of these sales is covered by the sneakers models. Following the trend, Saks 5th Avenue developed a new corner concept for their department stores, fully dedicated to street couture : SneAKS.
SneaKS offers a wide selection of high end sneakers, from Giuseppe Zanotti’s to Nike and Adidas limited editions. If Saks was the first and only department store to create a dedicated space to sneakers, we cannot say the same for all the small independent retailers which propose only few limited editions, special collaborations and rare models that have popped out in all the major cities in the latest years. From Berlin, to NY, Barcelona, Paris and London, the true sneakers collectors, know where to go and of course it’s not going to be Foot Locker.
Sneakers have their historic ties to teen culture and hip-hop. As I see it, the latest years boom has been a combination of the growing success and expansion of the rappers hip hop music combined with the mind change of young professionals, tired of wearing man’s office shoes and going back to their roots, in a sort of rebel revolution, paring suits with sneakers. The image of sneakers in menswear fashion has completely shifted and upscaled and there are few occasions today where sneakers are off limits.
“At some point in the last two years, all the guys being photographed by The Sartorialist and Tommy Ton went from wearing Alden boots and double monk-strap shoes to Nike Roshes and retro New Balances” said Brad Bennett, who runs the men’s style blog Well Spent. As Nike and Adidas started revamping their old models, or launching limited editions, luxury fashion companies also focused on their version of sneakers. From trainers by shoe designers like Giuseppe Zanotti, Christian Louboutin, to creations by Lanvin, Valentino, Dior Homme, Balenciaga, Jon Buscemi, Pierre Hardy… Sneakers are the superstars!
Alexis Murot, Christian Louboutin’s group COO and general manager, reveals that the brand’s sneakers, which were launched three years ago, now account for 50% of sales of the men’s collection. It really is a global and growing trend, and from a commercial perspective these kind of results are the most important aspect for the footwear business.
Collaborations of classic sneakers brand with designers and celebrities are also in trend, in the last years we have seen many successful partnerships as Nike Air Force 1 Edition designed by Riccardo Tisci (Gyvenchy), Nike Air Yeezy by Kanye West, Adidas Vicious by Rick Owens, Adidas Stan Smith by Pharrell Williams and many others..
And what about the sneakers collectors? More and more guys around the world, are getting really crazy about sneakers, so much that they started collecting them, with whole rooms filled with new never worn sneakers. The youtube show “Sneak Peek” can suggest an idea of what I am talking about, featuring rappers, celebrities or famous basket ball players proudly showing their collection in front of the cameras.
Even a brand like Berluti, the “Ferrari” in men shoes, surprised everyone releasing a top luxury leather sneakers for SS 2015, the Playtime. They are handcrafted and made using exactly the same technique of the classic models, with one unique piece of leather perfectly sewed to the rubber sole, maintaining the brand’s finest quality and excellence, but with a modern look.
At Selfridges, buying manager for men’s shoes Luke Mountain says there’s been unprecedented demand for luxury trainers, with £350-plus Balenciaga sneakers, for example, selling at an average of 50 pairs a week. This happened in 2014 and the trend now doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
The same street wear trend is reflecting also on women shoes, with a fast growing demand of female fashion trainers. Haven’t you noticed any well dressed pretty girl wearing colorful sneakers in the streets lately? Me, a lot. No more heels time girls!