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Sneakers deligth

- 25 Feb 2021

News Sneakers deligth
From being used exclusively at the gym and to run, to a key piece of every wardrobe, currently, these are a must-have!
If, five years ago, classic would be defined with a good pair of classic shoes, today the reality is not the same and a good pair of white sneakers can be the perfect match to an outfit. Why? What has changed in the industry? How did sneakers become fashionable so fast?

Particularly, everything changed when Channel presented its go to the supermarket collection, in 2014, with models combining haute couture with sneakers. Shortly before that, the Swedish brand Axel Arigato launched the first white sneakers model. The ingredients for success were all there. In the most prestigious international runways, even of consecrated brands, were transformed with a new fashion. The expression "go back to basics” has never made more sense.

"Chanel gave the validation. Several brands were thinking about that previously. Streetwear was strongly growing, mainly in the men’s segment”, states Fernando Bastos Pereira. "I’d say this rise was a reaction to uncomfortable shoes. People wanted to start using sneakers because they wanted to be more connected to well-being and sports, and wanted the comfort of sneakers on the daily life”. For the fashion producer, the main adaptation in the industry occurred precisely in the tailoring segment, which had to adapt to a sportier trend.

Since then, we have witnessed a complete shift regarding footwear. Whereas there was a time when sneakers were limited to the sporty universe, they quickly became a high-demand item. "We started to witness haute couture fashion shows, where sneakers won the spotlight, which seemed highly unlikely. This trend then intensified with sports’ brands and gained a whole new dimension”, states Vítor Costa, Creative Director of Sanjo. The Portuguese brand has reinvented itself and has a new face. "Clearly, sneakers have transformed the footwear industry and the whole fashion sector. In the past, sneakers were mainly used for sports performance, and with the industry’s evolution, they became a part of our daily life in all segments, including luxury”.

However, for an industry mainly specialized in the production of leather shoes, as is the Portuguese footwear industry, how did companies adapt themselves to this new product? Currently, over 30% of the footwear production made in Portugal has characteristics from the young fashion sporty segment.
"Actually, Carité has adapted itself very well, maybe the fact that it has over 30 years of experience in the production of footwear and its professionals, has made this adaptation a natural step for the company”, says Pedro Ramos, Commercial Director of Carité, holder of the brand J. Reinaldo. More recently, the group from Felgueiras has launched a new brand called Tentoes Nature, a sneakers brand exclusively designed for sustainability.

 The same happened with Fábrica de Calçado Dura. Specialized in the production of men’s footwear, the company launched Exceed Shoe Thinkers to reach a new market niche. "The growth trend of sneakers demand in the market is something we have been paying close attention to for several seasons now, so we’ve been progressively adapting and making investments in the development of this range of products”, says Pedro Caria from Exceed Shoe Thinkers.

Also, Tulipa Begra, specialized in the production of classic shoes, had to keep up with the market. "To reach our goals as a company, we couldn’t settle for classic shoes, so we had to invest in this type of product”, says Denise Costa. "In terms of production, adaptation wasn’t hard because the processes are similar, however, we had a few challenges, namely concerning design”.

What are the necessary ingredients for a great pair of sneakers?
"Besides a great design, I’d say the choice of materials is very important. A great sneaker has to have great raw materials”, says Pedro Ramos. In the same line of thought, Vítor Costa values "the sneakers’ story, the details, the design, the way that it shows a combination of materials, and the production, define a great pair. However, what I value the most are retro reeditions, collaborations, and limited editions. Great details and a good story are what makes a pair of sneakers great!”.
Within this segment, there’s another phenomenon worth analyzing: white sneakers. There are hundreds of models, for every taste, with a different price range, and small differentiating characteristics. Let’s look at the examples of Stan Smith from Adidas, Air Force 1 from Nike, and the Golden Goose from Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, which quickly caused a global fever. According to Business of Fashion (BoF), in 2018, the sales of white sneakers rose to 100 billion euros. "The white sneakers’ segment currently ascends to 100 billion euros, considering its quick and great growth is related to the fact that streetwear is fashionable”, highlight BoF. And it’s precisely in the United States and China that the white sneakers have found their best market. "We began being used in every type of situation, instead of only being used for less formal occasions. Nowadays, a common person will use sneakers and a t-shirt, as well as sneakers with a blazer or a dress”.

Are we witnessing trend that came to stay?
"I believe the future will be the coexistence between classics and sneakers. Sneakers will not rule completely, since in the main runway shows have now started to appear more proposals of comfortable boots and sandals. But sneakers will not disappear as well, because consumers have already adapted to comfort. As a trend, and considering that trends are cyclical, there will naturally appear other types of footwear, however, sneakers are not going anywhere”.
To Vítor Costa, Portugal can make a difference in this segment. "I identify two challenged in Portugal, one at a production level and another at the brand level. In terms of production, I believe we lack vulcanization processes, and there’s a high demand from international brands for products produced in retro typologies (vulcanization). Concerning brands, we could be an incubator and meeting-point for the sneaker culture, since we currently produce incredible sneakers, mainly in the high-end spectrum”.

Pedro Ramos believes this is a trend that came to stay. "I believe this is a trend that has come to stay, mainly due to the comfort it provides to its users”.
To Pedro Caria, "trend is a dynamic concept that molds according to multiple variables and circumstances. We’re not in a position to assert that this will be a trend for the future or not. From our point of view, and as we have done so far, we’ll keep paying attention to all the signs the market gives us and we’ll seek out ways to understand the trends and keep up with them”.