Year-in-Review: Most Hyped Sneaker Releases of 2019
2019 saw some of the biggest sneaker drops to date. A huge sales driver for the athleisure trend, sneakers dominated across all footwear segments. From sportswear brands to designer labels, lifestyle sneakers sales increased by 7% ($3.9 billion) in Q3 of 2019 alone – outgrowing the performance of technical footwear and fashion footwear.
Unsurprisingly, men made up the biggest consumer group in this market at $1.8 billion in sales. More than 80% of Nike’s sales were contributed by the men’s segment, as reported in its Q3 financial 2019 results.
With that said, the women’s segment wasn’t far behind. Sales for women’s footwear remained stable throughout Q3 of 2019, with a slight increase of 3%. Last year, the women’s segment also had its share of exclusive sneaker drops such as the iconic Air Jordan 1 Retro High “Satin Black Toe” – released only in women’s sizes.
Going beyond the mass market
The rise of streetwear culture has catapulted sneakers into the mainstream. Other than legacy players Nike and Adidas, some of the most popular sneakers released in 2019 were from high-end labels, like Gucci, Balenciaga and Dior.
For luxury brands, sneakers are a gateway to the younger generation. Gen Z consumers have not only transformed the luxury market but they also view streetwear and luxury in the same lens.
The resale market played a huge role in this shift.
As of 2019, the sneaker resale market is estimated to be worth approximately $2 billion. Marketplaces like Stock X, Stadium Goods and Goat.com are just a few of the major sneaker resale e-tailers. Stock X, in particular, influenced the price valuation of limited-edition sneakers – one of Air Jordan’s most exclusive collaboration, the Air Jordan 11 Retro Premium Derek Jetter, was sold for $18,257 on the website. A few years later, the same sneaker was auctioned for $30,000 at Sotheby’s.
The line between mass-market and luxury continue to blur as collaborations between sportswear brands and designer houses, musicians and athletes have become increasingly sought-after. With Nike and Adidas being involved with some of the biggest powerhouses in fashion, music and art, the aftermarket value for collaboration sneakers is incredibly high.
Biggest sneaker releases of 2019
As most sneakerheads will agree, one of the most hyped sneaker releases in 2019 was the Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 High OG “Cactus Jack”. It was first released on a limited drop during his Grammy’s performance, before reaching the public through Nike’s SNKRS app and selected retailers worldwide.
Sold at $175, Omnilytics data shows that there was a 1,100% increase in price as a pair of these in a men’s size 9 was going for $2,165 at Stadium Goods.
Nike’s winning streak continues with collaborations alongside fashion’s hottest brands, Sacai and Off-white. The Sacai x Nike LDWaffle took the sneaker market by storm during its release in summer of 2019. Released in various colourways, data extracted from Stadium Goods show Varsity Blue as the bestselling colourway with the highest speed-to-sellout and resale value.
There’s also the Off-White X Nike Air Force 1 Low “MCA”. Released in June of 2019, this pair of Air Force 1s fetched an unbelievable high resale value – our data showed a price difference of more than $2,000 from its retail value.
Switching gears to the luxury segment, the designer sneaker, sported by various fashion influencers during the summer of 2019, was the Dior B23 Oblique. Designed by Kim Jones, the sneaker made its debut at Jones’ first season as the creative director of Dior Homme.
Initially released in both low-top and high-top versions, the sneaker garnered a huge interest amongst women as well. Omnilytics’ data from Farfetch shows the sneaker achieved a high speed-to-sellout, as a recent restock of the B23s sold out within 10 days. Updated designs of the same sneaker in new patterns went out of stock in fewer days – a testament to its popularity despite the hefty price tag.
David Beckham, Gigi Hadid and Ezra Miller wore different iterations of Dior B23 Oblique sneakers. Source: redcarpet-fashionawards.com
Balenciaga’s Track 2.0, on the other hand, was one of the most polarising sneakers of 2019. The brand’s latest offering is made up of 176 separate pieces, with the Track 2.0 being a more evolved version of its predecessor released the prior year. Riding on the tail-coats of the “ugly sneaker” trend, the Track 2.0 was a hit among hypebeasts, achieving a 100% sellout at various luxury retailers like Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.
Sneaker appreciation value
The introduction of designer sneakers into the market has completely changed how consumers perceive sneaker pricing. Dior’s B23 Oblique sneaker is priced well over $1,000 – while a flagship sneaker from Adidas usually costs around $80. Premium sneakers such as Air Jordans or Yeezys have a higher price tag but never exceeded the $300 mark, yet its resale value is on par or even higher than designer sneakers in the market.
2020: How will streetwear and the sneaker market fare?
The streetwear trend wasn’t just a big part of 2019 – it was a global phenomenon of the entire decade. It spawned multiple crossovers – from sports to music to art houses – and reinvented a new kind of luxury (street culture trickling up to the high fashion world), a movement no other trend achieved.
However, industry mavericks don’t believe that the trend will last. Virgil Abloh, founder of Off-White and one of the driving forces of high-end street fashion, believes that streetwear will die. He tells Dazed that streetwear’s “… time will be up. In my mind, how many more T-shirts can be own, how many more hoodies, how many sneakers?” Some state that the industry has hit a peak with designer crossovers.
Some are more optimistic. David Fischer, the founder of Highsnobiety, believes that streetwear is about “a sense of community” instead of “graphic-driven sportswear or limited-edition collaborations”. CEO of Renowned, John Dean, disagrees with Abloh’s views too, though he thinks that there will be “major changes coming”.
With more major collaborations between Dior x Air Jordan, Yeezy and more in the pipeline for 2020, only time will tell.
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