Sneakers May 5, 2015

Luxury Brands Turn to Sneakers to Impact the Market

The rising trend of luxury brands giving their take on sneakers in the high-fashion world proves that sneaker culture is anything but trivial.

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Dior Fusion trainers (Image via Dior)

Luxury brands have stepped into the world of sneakers, incorporating the silhouettes as part of their fashion collection, in a bid to gain a foothold in the fashion market. Because of this, the notion that sneakers were once considered a fashion faux pas by the luxury elite is said to be over.

Case in point: Hong Kong fashion designer Six Lee, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerpen, was contacted by footwear label Aqua Two to work on creating a sneaker together.

“I visited the company’s factory in Xiamen to learn about the brand. I had never made sneakers before, so when I received their invitation I was quite surprised. What they proposed was totally out of my comfort zone, but I saw the task as a very fun challenge and decided to accept,” Lee said in an interview with South China Morning Post.

The resulting collaboration is a sneaker that looks right at home on the runway. A holographic upper meets a marble print sole, combining Lee’s love of tailoring with the practicality and comfort of trainers.

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Six Lee x Aqua Two collection (Image via Haute Living)

Sneakers are now embraced by the luxury elite, and as writer Daniel Kong puts it, this movement is “creating new and untapped opportunities for fashion brands to explore”. He added that “sneaker-mania has gone hand in hand with the rise of yoga pants and the overall movement of sportswear-casual apparel, which the fashion industry has dubbed ‘athleisure’.”

“People started favoring comfort over chic, giving the sneaker market a boost and creating a new kind of sport-hybrid fashion that was never accepted before by those in fashion,” said Nicoline van Enter, creative director of international innovation and footwear education institute SLEM in the Netherlands.

Luxury brands bring with them traditional construction methods and premium fabrics such as high quality suede or leather, adding variance to a market saturated with sneakers. The Dior Fusion trainers from last season exemplify this, offering a touch of sophistication to a simple silhouette.

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Garbstore x Reebok “Experiemental Color” Collection (Image via BLKDMNDS)

It helps that the current generation of fashion designers have grown up surrounded by sneakers and urban culture. Ian Paley, founder of U.K. menswear store Garbstore, said, “Growing up in the ’70s and ’80s and starting my career in the early ’90s allowed me to see nearly all of the classic shoes when they were first released.”

As sneakers continue to infiltrate the ranks of society, new opportunities with luxury brands are likely to become more commonplace, and sneakers could very well be the reflection of the changing values and attitudes of society.

Source: South China Morning Post