There was once a time where the sneaker industry was ruled by Nike and Adidas.
Other names such as Reebok, Fila and Puma were also in the mix but were never market leaders.
These were the brands the community saw as the ones that shaped the world of sneakers.
Over the years however, the scene has undergone some massive changes with luxury brands showcasing their very own sneaker collections. And now for the first time ever, people are finding it easy to identify sneaker silhouettes from high fashion designer brands.
We're talking Balenciaga, Gucci, Alexander Mcqueen, Giuseppe Zanotti -- just to name a few.
So what's the go with these $1000 sneakers that look like they went through multiple thrift shops?
The Evolution of Fashion
When Adidas first collaborated with Yohji Yamamoto to form Y-3 back in 2003, there weren't many high fashion sneaker models present. Later partnerships helped cement sneakers on the catwalk, including Raf Simons for adidas, Riccardo Tisci for Nike, and others. Common Projects can also surely be attributed with creating a space for luxury kicks in the market, which has grown substantially over the years, thanks to many imitator brands who created their own minimalist low-tops.
However, thanks to Virgil Abloh's with the Nike x Off-White collaborations, it now seems as though the two worlds of high fashion/luxury brands and sneakers are inseparable.
Never have we seen a sneaker collector have both a pair of Jordan 1s and Balenciaga Speed Trainers in their collection. However, times have changed and this is now becoming the norm.
If anything, these two worlds are now playing off each other with ideas that try to merge innovative design, sport functionality, fashion elegance and spotless craftsmanship all in one sneaker.
The line dividing high fashion and somewhat "accessible" sneaker culture is now thin.
Dawn C L Pedersen, fashion trend forecaster at TRENDZOOM notes:
“Trainer fetishism has been around for a long time. It began with the ‘limited edition’ and sports star-endorsed trainers, continuing through to designer collaborations and – over the past few years – the luxury designer trainer, [owing to] innovative designers like Jeremy Scott, Bernhard Willhelm, Yohji Yamamoto and Rick Owens.”
Looking at some of the recent fashion weeks, it seems as though trainers are now believed to be just as important as the rest of an outfit. The Astrid Andersen show at the London Fashion Week Menswear (Fall/Winter 2018) saw every single model wearing a striking sunburst colourway of the new Nike Air Max 270, and it sparked a lot of attention surrounding the silhouette’s release.
Y3’s recent show at Paris Fashion Week also saw all the models sporting brand new Y3 runners, which also saw the trainers steal much of the spotlight in comparison to the garments on show.
Another fashion show which saw brand new sneakers unveiled was COMME des GARÇONS SS17 runway show. Each of the models wore a pair of at this point unreleased Vapormax.
The sneakers were not set for release until months after they debuted at the show, and sneakerheads amongst the crowd were left in shock after seeing the sneaker with no prior warning.
Many who saw the show online went on to post on many Facebook forums and other discussion threads about the mysterious sneaker, questioning where they could get a pair from.
Looking at these fashion shows and the reactions towards these sneakers that were featured, there is one thing that can be deduced.
Less and less people are buying into the hype (or at least trying to).
Hype around anything, not just sneakers is crucial for demand. However, recent times have shown that more and more individuals are finding ways to avoid the hype. They want to own something that no one else has.
It's the "I have something you don't have" mentality.
And as prevalent as it may seem, brands such as Nike and Adidas are failing to keep this sentiment intact.
Think Jordan 1 Breds, Yeezy BOOST 350 V2 or even a simpler shoe like the Air Max 97 Silver Bullet.
These were silhouettes that were once sought after, but it seems as though Nike and Adidas have lost sight of their exclusivity and instead have fallen victim to mass production.
And so with these shift, consumers are wanting sneakers that no one else has. And it seems as though, the only way to do that is to be rocking high end fashion sneakers given their price point and relatively lower hype.
Even within the high end sneaker realm, there has been an increasing trend for shoes such as the Gucci Aces which are now viewed as being too "mainstream".
In discussing the cultural shift in attitude towards what is considered acceptable in terms of casual attire, Dawn C L Pedersen, fashion trend forecaster at TRENDZOOM comments:
“Outward signs of being relaxed, confident and in control have manifested into leisure-related clothing and comfort-centric footwear. Quality trainers have become the smarter option; they are comfortable, effortless, easy to style and relatively ageless.”
The biggest issue to some has been the way high end brands have ripped off the designs of Nike, Jordan and Adidas. And as such, there have been arguments whether brands such as Balenciaga do not deserve to be in the discussion with the likes of Jordan and Nike.
However, what is also argued that these high end brands take inspiration from brands such as Nike and Adidas and "refine" the design with premium materials.
“They’re hand-stitched and fabrics are of premium quality. So, in effect, what started as a low-key footwear option has ended up as the current status symbol for men, with a price tag to match.” - Dawn C L Pedersen, fashion trend forecaster at TRENDZOOM.
Here are presented some luxury sneakers "inspired" by other sneakers:
Luxury Sneakers in 2017
Check out our infograph to see the most popular luxury sneaker trends in 2017!
Potential Louis Vuitton x Nike Collaboration in the Works?
We all heard of Virgil Abloh’s appointment as creative director of Louis Vuitton.
To celebrate such a monumental move, NYC-based artist Ceeze tapped Relevant Customs to create what the duo has dubbed the “OFF–LOUIS” Air Jordan 1s.
Whilst this may only be a tease, Louis Vuitton recently dropped a new sneaker that seems to have drawn inspiration from the new Nike Air Max 270.
The Louis Vuitton V.N.R (Vuitton New Runner), is said to provide active sports detailing and sock-like comfort. With the stark resemblence of a Nike silhouette, one can only dream of a potential collaboration between the two brands.
Although luxury trainers are riding a high wave right now, their on-trend appeal has been a long time coming.
With upcoming collaborations between Nike and Off-White looking very promising, who knows what the fusion of sportswear and fashion has installed for us.
What are your thoughts on the neo-casual style of footwear?
Do you think this trend is here to stay?