Stilettos Are Out, Souped-Up Sneakers Are In

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By Jennifer Ford

  • Stiletto sales for luxury brands like Capri Holding’s Jimmy Choo saw a 23% decline during pandemic
  • Souped-up sneakers emerge as the comfort fashion alternative as Hip Hop artists help shape the growing market

Before the pandemic, dress shoes were experiencing a decline in sales and now things are even worse because from March to May 2020, U.S. sales of dress shoes tanked more than 70% compared to 2019. Brands like Versace saw the writing on the wall by partnering with popular hip-hop artists like 2Chainz in a sneaker collaboration that we’ve covered. Tennis great and fashion influencer Serena Williams made headlines in May 2019 when she paired neon yellow Off-White x Nike sneakers with an Atelier Versace gown. Has the global health crisis stalled fashion companies’ high heel game, and ushered in a new era for street savvy  sneakers in a global market that’s forecast to reach a value of $97.8 billion by 2024?

Why This Matters: Stilettos had been the cherry on top of ‘fits for many women, made mainstream by the characters in HBO’s hit series Sex and the City, who stepped out on New York’s brick, cobblestone or cement streets to flex. The unofficial lover of Jimmy Choo herself, Carrie Bradshaw, would be aghast to know that the luxury brand has gradually been experiencing a decline in stiletto sales, but the disinterest has been magnified by the Coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. high heels footwear market was expected to reach $4.87 billion by 2023, according to Tech Navio.

From March to May 2020, U.S. sales of dress shoes tanked more than 70%

NPD’s industry analyst for accessories and fashion footwear Beth Goldstein, noted how women’s changed purchasing power has impacted the industry. Similar sentiments were echoed by Jimmy Choo owner, Capri Holdings (CPRI +11.32%) CEO John Idol who said “We’re definitely concerned about the dress shoe business at Jimmy Choo,” on a July 1 earnings call.

Situational Awareness: In response to the changing tides, fashion brands are investing in more sneaker silhouettes to reflect a comfort fashion alternative, initially spearheaded and made popular by Hip Hop artists and culturally relevant celebrities. As long as the pandemic remains, the desire for versatility and comfort will be in demand, and brands will need to pivot accordingly.

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Jennifer is a former HBO Production Risk Executive, now spending her days as a Marketing Consultant for MOWE, nights podding about all the things, and her in-betweens blogging about the seriousness and silliness of life. Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @reneseford or Instagram: @oksoblog


Jennifer Ford

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