The dynamics of the sneaker game have changed in immeasurable ways through the years, with the most dramatic shifts taking place fairly recently. The sneaker business has been booming as of late and it seems like every new weekend brings a new batch of “must have” releases. Consumers are getting the shoes they covet and the sneaker companies and retailers are reaping the benefits. Good news for everybody right? Sure, but for the sake of argument, let’s take a look at the big picture and some of the more underlying effects that are silently shaping the future of the sneaker landscape.
From a business standpoint, it makes plenty of sense to cash in while demand is high, but going about it in a way that will still set you up for the long term as well requires a delicate balance of ambition and restraint. Once these brands burn through their entire retro catalogs and explore every new color scheme and graphic treatment imaginable, what will there be left to sell you? Of course there will always be new models emerging with the latest in performance innovations, but there will also still be demand for the classics – only, what happens when there are no classics left to bring back? Well, they’ll probably just bring them back again, but after a shoe’s umpteenth re-release, it can lose a little of the impact that made them so special in the first place.
That’s all well and good, and certain iconic silhouettes will continue to stand the test of time, but even legends can fall from grace if pushed too hard. The danger is very real and we’ve recently seen it with unquestionably revered silhouettes like the Air Force 1 and then the Dunk, which hit such heights of popularity that they ultimately fell victim to oversaturation. While the AF1 and Dunk will never lose their Hall of Fame status and still have many loyal devotees, they are proof that even unthinkable cornerstones of sneaker history can fall out of favor with the mainstream once enough is deemed to be enough.
We’re not suggesting that sneaker companies should deprive consumers of the shoes they want, but there has to be some more consideration put into the lasting effects of milking every last drop. Is it worth it to go after every dollar today if it means killing a shoe for tomorrow? If it means having a product that everybody wants to get their hands on, that’s a fork in the road that any brand is happy to deal with, but the decisions they make can vastly alter the trajectory of the shoe’s legacy and its ability to succeed down the road. There are two sides to the debate, and we’re going to examine them both in our first installment of SELECT Discussion, so continue on to explore the double-edged sword that comes along with the laws of sneaker supply and demand.