By Ericka Kamanou-tenta
- Black Culture has made sneakers an invaluable asset; meanwhile, only 5% of sneaker retailers in America are Black
- The sneaker market pulled in $72B in 2022 and it’s expected to reach $102B by 2025
Black individuals consistently account for the share of America’s sneaker sales each year. However, Black retailers hardly profit from the industry’s increasing valuation that pulled in $72 billion in 2022, as a result of being boxed out of the sneaker market by traditional establishments.
Why This Matters: According to the market research company Statista, the sneaker industry is set to rake in a value of $102 billion by 2025. Black business owner of several sneaker and apparel stores, James Whitner, told NBC the sneaker industry “is a white boys’ club, like most things”. This reality clearly creates an unjust disproportion between Black dollars and any benefit that Black-owned stores could gain.
The problem stems from the fact that only five percent of sneaker retailers in America are Black. From a customer’s standpoint, the lack of reciprocity can be frustrating. A self-described ‘sneaker head’ from Atlanta who owns a collection of 900 sneakers complained that “there aren’t enough Black stores to spend Black dollars on sneakers”.
The truth is that Black Culture has made sneakers an invaluable asset; especially through Basketball and the hype behind Michael Jordan’s line of shoes. Nike President John Donahue testified that there “brand would not be what it is today without the powerful contributions of Black athletes and Black culture.” Yet, those ‘contributions’ generate little in the way of Black wealth, leaving society to believe that Black people have an economic strength that does not physically exist.
Situational Awareness: Lack of capital is also among the barriers for the shortage of Black sneakers retailers. In order to increase Black wealth in the sneaker industry and push for equality, more venture capital and resources should be extended to Black founders who wish to get into the business.
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