The white sneakers phenomenon
White sneakers market evaluated in over 100 billion dollars
A long time ago, in the era of classical and conservative fashion, it would be difficult to imagine white sneakers as a simple, subtle and essential accessory. However, times have changed and when the Swedish brand Axel Arigato launched its models, in 2014, the fashion world was never going to be the same. It started being present in runways all throughout the world and even the most consecrated brand, such as Chanel or Dior, have converted to this new trend. And the expression “go back to basics” has never made more sense.
Currently, there are thousands of brands that have found an irresistible business opportunity with the white sneakers. There are models for all tastes, with different price ranges and finishings. Adidas with Stan Smith, Nike with Air Force 1, Golden Goose from Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen. These white sneakers have become essential to fashionistas and, nowadays, one can find them everywhere. The topic is already being deeply analyzed by Business of Fashion (BoF).
According to the company, “currently, the white sneakers market ascends to 100 billion euros, with its rapid and huge growth being related to streetwear becoming more fashionable”. Its precisely in the USA and in China that the white sneakers find their best markets. “They started being used for all type of situations, not only for less formal occasions. Nowadays, it is as common to see a person using white sneakers with jeans and t-shirt, as it is with a blazer or a dress”.
Besides Axel Arigato, there were two other brands that created a successful business through the simple white sneakers: Greats and Koio. The first was founded in 2014 and reached 13 million euros in online sales in June 2019. The most famous model is Royale, with the price of 179 dollars. The second, Koio, was created in 2015. Although the revenue isn’t known, there was investment from the actor Miles Teller and the producer Simon Kinberg. The most desirable model is called Triple White and the price is over 250€.
According to BoF, “Axel Arigato had to find a niche to achieve this remarkable success. All of this happened due to a great market research and knowledge”. In this segment, “the three brands aimed for simplicity, quality and comfort at accessible prices”. Nowadays, “a lot more quality shoes are produced at competitive prices due to a market saturation”, states BoF. Axel, Greats and Koio are able to compete with huge brands, such as Adidas and Nike, by offering the same type of product.
In 2018, Axel Arigato sales reached 12.3 millions and, this year, it is expected an increase to 21 million. There are currently four stores in Europe and the brand is in retail stores, such as Selfridges, Le Bon Marche and Lane Crawford. Since the launching, Axel Arigato aims to renew the famous sneakers by varying colors and materials. “It’s a new product; it’s same one produced differently. This is valued by the consumer”. The price range is lower comparing to luxury brands, such as Saint Laurent and Gucci.
The three brands, Axel Arigato, Greats and Koio, started with online sales, directly to the consumer, and, only after, have opened their physical stores, in order to provide an opportunity for all customers to see in real life the materials of the products and being able to try them on. “As quality is so important, these brands believes the simple online presence wouldn’t value the product enough”, states Business of Fashion.
For Greats, a physical store was always a goal, as the “brand’s sales are 90% from ecommerce and the remaining 10% are divided by the store in Soho and the partnership with Nordstrom”. However, the price isn’t everything. The brand needs to have something truly differentiating from the others. To Axel Arigato, the events in the stores, such as customization experiences or the presence of public figures, bring closer the brand’s targets. By its turn, Koio invests in partnerships and events to attract new clients.
Nowadays, Nike and Adidas are still the main shareholders in this market segment. Therefore, and with the increase of competition from young brands, they have been investing in new initiatives and new sneakers models. To Business of Fashion, “the classic pieces, such as the white sneakers, will never stop being fashionable and will most definitely not disappear”.