CBx Daily

Why Sneakerhead Culture Could Be Going Vegan

Jun 21

By CultureBanx Team

  • Vegan sneakers have been released from Nike, Adidas and Reebok
  • Nike’s "100% organic" custom Air Max 90 has sold for for nearly $1,500

Hip hop loves to talk about their limited sneakers and “vegan” kicks could be the next big thing, creating market envy for brands and fans alike. Major bands like Nike (NKE -0.27%) and Adidas (ADDYY -0.40%) are dipping their toes into the plant-based, or vegan athletic shoe game as a way to spur sales while being kind to the environment. Supply and demand is the name of the game for sneaker aficionados in a global athletic footwear market that’s expected to reach $114.8 billion by 2025, but are consumers actually interested in shoes that are more biodegradable?

Why This Matters: With the rise of environmentally conscious consumers, along with an increasing vegan population, the demand for products like vegan sneakers is rapidly growing. If athletic footwear brands can get hip hop artists on board their vegan sneaker train, who have gone from subtle co-signers that helped start grassroots movements to indirect ad men and power brokers, they could have a winning combination. Sneakers by rappers like Kanye West, Drake and Pharrell with companies including Nike and Adidas have created a frenzy among consumers as they dictate business and trends.

If athletic footwear brands can get hip hop artists on board their vegan train, they could have a winning combination

Specifically, Americans discard around 300 million pairs of shoes each year, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior. The majority of what ends up in landfills from sneakers is comprised of non-biodegradable plastic, leather and petroleum-based rubber. These items can take up to 80 years to fully decompose on their own, according to CNN Business. A study by NPD found that about 35% of respondents said they would be willing to pay more for a shoe sustainability made.

Nike has already been running in the plant-based athletic shoe space for a while now and these types of sneakers could become a major part of the company’s business, it makes 61% of its revenue from footwear, which includes the cult classic Jordan brand.

In August 2019, it had a limited release of its "100% organic"  vegan custom Nike Air Max 90 for $150. The shoes have been resold for as much as $1,446 per pair on second-hand retail sites. Which could also be another play for these footwear giants. The market for resale sneakers and streetwear in North America is projected to reach $6 billion by 2025, according to Cowen.  

Situational Awareness: Adidas, Nike and Puma along with 30 additional apparel companies signed the G7 Fashion Pact. It remains to be seen how many shoppers will really buy sneakers with more sustainable vegan materials over the versions they know and love.

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