Written by: Peter Minkoff
They keep us warm when the winter snow comes in, they prevent the rain from wrecking our socks, and they protect us from injury during training – our beloved shoes are sometimes seen as a mere accessory, but most of the time, they are the staple of our wardrobe. Like so many other industries still experiencing a boom, the global demand for quality, durable, increasingly sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing shoes is growing rapidly. The industry itself, however, is not without its faults.
The pandemic has affected many businesses, but in terms of our need for shoes – still there, unaffected. Many brands are looking to cut production costs while at the same time preserving the environment. They are also investing in innovative solutions to reduce water waste, toxic chemical use, and to increase fair labor in their ranks. Let’s see how the footwear industry is finally putting its best foot forward!
Sustainability is the number-one trend
Like the rest of the fashion world, the footwear industry is quickly catching on – sustainability is a major perk that helps push more customers their way, not to mention the better future for our planet that comes with a green mindset.
In fact, research has shown that the sustainable footwear market will be worth $11.8 billion by 2027, which means that more brands will do their best to deliver a wider array of shoes and sneakers with a green edge.
Transparency will redefine consumer awareness
Companies can no longer hide from the curious eye of the consumer. Footwear brands are under ever-growing scrutiny, with social media and dedicated review platforms on the rise. When searching for a new pair of sneakers, a user can rely on a sneaker review and discover what their favorite brand is doing.
In addition to learning about the latest trends, customers also want to know about their social impact and sustainability practices, making their choice based on all kinds of company promises. Reviews also give customers a glance at how durable, quality, and stylish the sneakers can be, further simplifying the decision-making process.
Comfort becoming a top priority
Smack-dab in the middle of the pandemic, more people are transitioning to remote work and no longer going to the office. In everyday terms, that means a lesser need for pumps, ankle booties, and the like, and a growing sneaker and comfort shoes market.
Brands are taking note carefully listening to their customers, and transforming their own lines of upcoming footwear to match the needs of their audience.
Preloved shoes and sneakers more relevant
For a long time, second-hand garments were all about finding unique items that nobody else had and exploring those old brands with powerful heritage. Today, second-hand items are more about what consumerism means for the planet and how we can pave the way for a new era of shopping by purchasing preloved items, and shoes are no longer an exception.
The market for used shoes is growing, and even larger brands such as Converse are taking the same stance by starting to use upcycled textile in their production. More companies are embracing used shoes, recycling them, and more brands are selling them, too, thus changing our shopping habits for the better.
Fair-trade production on the horizon
Some companies have more resources to flaunt, so they naturally end up on all the favorite shelves across the globe. Then there are the artisan stores with hand-made shoes and sneakers, designed specifically for the person in question, and with the designer’s wellbeing in mind.
Now, with the rising customer awareness of what improper working conditions entail, more fair-trade footwear brands are rising to the surface. For example, Argentina’s Zou Xou made-to-order brand designs unique and beautiful shoes, but all the while providing healthy and fair work conditions and fair wages to their employees.
Slow-paced, but systematic change has taken over the footwear industry, and it shows great promise in how this sector will evolve in the years to come. Based predominantly on customer-driven trends and preferences paired with how the pandemic reshaped our habits, we’ll see the footwear selections changing on the runways, but also in our own stores. Let’s see how far they are willing to go!