Luxury: heels and moccasins make a comeback after years of sneaker dominance
As seen recently on the catwalks, trainers are on the decline, while moccasins and high heels are coming back to the fore. Although sneakers are still a very big part of brands' offering, this trend is forcing the labels to review their strategy in terms of price and assortment in this increasingly important segment for the luxury sector, as illustrated by a study carried out by the data analysis specialist Retviews by Lectra.
According to Euromonitor International, luxury footwear will generate $40 billion (€37.4 billion) by 2027, 29% more than in 2022. "Shoes have become the leading category for brands, as they have helped build brand identity," says Retviews, according to which "retailers are expanding their footwear assortment by 12% each year". But while the demand for shoes is increasing, sneakers are in decline. This is evidenced by falling prices on resale sites for some of the top models, such as Nike's Air Jordan 1 trainers, which are now being sold for less than their original value.
The analyst's data clearly shows that luxury retailers are gradually turning away from sports footwear, with the category's share of new releases in shops falling by 33% between 2021 and 2022. Over the period, they have fallen from 52% to 48% of the US market's luxury footwear offering for men and from 24% to 19% for women. In addition, the US now accounts for 40% of the global luxury footwear market, one of the main markets alongside China and the UK.
Sneakers still account for almost half of the men's market, with brands such as Gucci and Prada continuing to capitalise on the streetwear trend and on successful collaborations with the major equipment manufacturers. Adidas has signed with Balenciaga and Prada, while Nike has partnered with Dior and Jacquemus. But the moccasin has made a remarkable breakthrough since 2021, notably with Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Ferragamo, jumping by 12% in the autumn-winter 2022/23 collections compared to the previous winter edition.
For women, the trend has been even more apparent since the end of the Covid crisis, with a return to going out, parties and other social events, with a strong desire to dress up and renew one's wardrobe. Sandals and pumps have now overtaken sneakers, representing 34% of the total range of women's shoes in brands' offer. The share of stilettos has risen by 25% in one year, according to Retviews.
As for the pricing strategy, tennis shoes are logically positioned lower than city shoes. In the men's range, the entry-level price of loafers is 22% higher than that of trainers at Prada, and 23% higher at Ferragamo, whose shoes make up 25% of its total sales.
A closer look at sneaker prices in the US market shows that Celine has the lowest prices. Gucci's prices are slightly higher, with an average price of around $920, while Louis Vuitton's are the highest (apart from Prada's most expensive models), with its entry-level prices 59% higher than Celine's.
The trend for 2022 shows a dramatic increase in prices for dress shoes compared to a more moderate increase for trainers. For example, at Prada, again in the US, the Cloudbust Thunder model increased by only 5%, while its famous brushed leather strappy pumps saw their price soar by 23% between January 2022 and February 2023.
The strategy differs by region. Retviews reports that "high-end luxury players are maintaining significantly higher prices in China for their men's footwear offerings. Louis Vuitton's prices are almost double those in Europe, while Bottega Veneta's men's shoes are only 14% higher in China. A carefully considered choice, as Louis Vuitton, Prada and Salvatore Ferragamo are among the top ten most desired footwear brands for China's wealthiest consumers.
It is interesting to note how Louis Vuitton has had the highest price increases in China (+72%) and the UK (+42%) over the past year, settling for +15% in Japan, compared to +25% for Prada and +20% for Ferragamo in the Japanese market. In the United States, prices for the French label rose by only 8%, while they jumped by 23% for Ferragamo and 24% for Prada. These strong differences from one market to another tend to prove that the increases are much more linked to strategic reasoning than to the economic situation (inflation, rise in raw materials).
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