Sneakers – the new Gen Z status symbol

“The so-called ‘entry-level’ to the luxury brand  is no longer about price dimension, but the specific product as an entry ticket for customers to luxuries,” says Queenie Liu, a PR student from London College of Communication. Liu further adds: “The very first luxury product purchased by those future potential consumers may not be the least expensive one in the pyramid. Instead, they will say goodbye to merely taking the linear path of upward purchase in the pyramid and start with trying on their chosen sneakers and then purchasing handbags and garments upward and cosmetics and accessories downward.”

As luxury goods expand to the mass market, entry-level commodities have been evolved with lipstick, perfume, accessories, scarves and small leather all featuring. And now luxury sneakers have also evolved to be a member of the category. This has led to luxury brands developing their symbolic sneakers over years as the consumers have been awakened with the market awareness and importance of luxury goods quality, reaching the same cult status as star handbags.

As revealed in a report by Italian luxury brands committee Altagamma, diversified entry-level products of luxury brands are helping them attract new consumers, and 30% of their consumers said that the first luxury product they bought were sneakers. 

Key products include Archlight launched by Louis Vuitton for its women’s clothing business and Trainer launched by Virgil Abloh for its men’s clothing business, co-branded shoe king and Oblique printed canvas shoes of Dior and Jordan, Gucci Rhyton clunky sneakers, Balenciaga Triple S, Alexander McQueen thick-soled white shoes, Prada Cloudbust Thunder sneakers, etc.

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In this regard, Xper Hu, a sneaker collector tells _shift: “Despite fashionable sneakers like Track Sneakers not usually being suitable for sports, it has to be acknowledged that the blurring boundary between work and life has created new scenarios for this emerging category, thus suiting the demands of transition scene situated between formal occasions and professional sports. Beyond that, as sneakers have grown to be in a rigid demand, the natural demand for fashion trends and identity differences has spawned expensive sneakers.”

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Not only that, amidst the backdrop where the targeted customers of luxury brands are going on a younger-oriented sneakers as the biggest attraction for young people, it is a common routine that luxury brands think highly of design marketing activities online and offline, which includes the release of luxury sneakers as an opportunity.

Fashion buyer, Shizhe Chen, says: “Regardless of being an emerging category, expensive luxury sneakers have proved to have adapted to various logistics existing in the current luxury industry.”

For example, when it comes to the fierce competition in the luxury industry, the brand concept is weakened, while the competition of best sellers is emphasized. Chen adds: “The new generation of consumers is seeking to make their purchases on the basis of their own interest. Undoubtedly, this change will definitely inject great inspiration into the ideas of luxury goods.” Nowadays, more and more luxury brands are starting to make efforts to enlarge product category, aiming to increase their contact with consumers.

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As the core of fashion culture, sneakers have become rooted in youthful fashion and is deeply affected by celebrity culture. Indeed, luxury brands have sought new ways to generate sales, including limited drops. Therefore, luxury sneakers, which unify brand effect with pragmatism, have authentically become the epitome of new luxury goods in the future.

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Notions of luxury continue to change and brands are working to find a sales pattern and concept fitting in well with the times. Sneakers, as a stand-out product, are far more identifiable than other small accessories and more adaptable to competition with added attraction in the luxury market.

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