A few weeks ago, Hailey Bieber was seen sporting New Balance's latest launch, a modern "dad" sneaker called the 2002R style—a perfect pairing for your crew socks, leggings, or bike shorts. Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber, and Kendall Jenner were seen wearing adidas' wildly popular Samba sneakers, making them 2023’s unofficial sneakers of model-off-duty style. And Gen Z 'It Girl', Addison Rae, has now put the Asics “ugly but cool” Gel-Nimbus 9 on the sneaker map. The list goes on and on—sneakerhead is a trend that seems to be here to stay, which is why we decided to break it down for you.
Performance and athleisure in one
Thanks to the continuous rise of athleisure, this year, too, sneaker brands are mixing performance with design to bring users a wide range of offerings. “Both luxury and fast fashion brands have created a space for athleisure merged with loungewear and utility wear; they all marry performance and design,” says Abdon Lepcha, creative director, Fila India. Lepcha admits utilitarian or multi-use products have a higher demand because it gives the end-user a high value.
Design and performance go hand-in-hand, which is especially true post the pandemic with increased mindfulness in purchases. The same is true for beauty (example: make-up products with skincare ingredients or SPF). Arendu Ghosh, product head of leading sneakers platform, Superkicks echoes this, “Brands such as On, Hoka, and Nike are doing remarkable work when it comes to combining design with performance.”
While Lepcha is putting bets on Fila’s original tennis sneakers, which represent court culture and can be donned on or off the court, Ghosh says the Nike Zoom 004 x MMW collaboration is the one to watch out for. He says, “This brings me to my crazy take that brands know people want to look good while doing day-to-day activities, whether running, walking, or going to the office.” We agree with Ghosh's crazy.
Sustainable is still a big buzzword
From adidas and ASICS, to Nike, Toms, and Veja, brands know the mindful buyer wants to invest in responsible products. Which is why most new drops have a sustainable slant to them. Product head Pankaj Sharma from ASICS India says, “The Gel-Lyte III is a prime example of this; it emits just 1.95 kg CO2e across its life cycle, significantly lighter than the lowest CO2e sneakers currently available in the market.” For him, the launch represents a significant leap forward in ASICS’ commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. According to Lepcha, Nike’s ISPA and adidas’ Parley collections are some of the few notable launches. Ghosh says, “Buyers/consumers play their part by supporting brand campaigns and buying their product, whether it’s the Parley campaign from adidas, or the Nike Move to Zero campaign of zero waste and zero carbon emission.” His store also stocks Toms, where the upper is made of eco-friendly fibres like jute, hemp, and linen, while the insoles are made of recyclable materials.
Yeezys are dead
Sorry, not sorry. “Yeezys are dead due to the cancel culture,” says Lepcha. adidas ended its sneaker partnership with Ye, and the result is evident in Yeezys no longer being a pair to flaunt. However, pop-culture will continue to give us more collaborations this year; it has always influenced sneaker trends and will continue to do so. “The climate Ye created around it made it lose its relevance in the scene. They still exist in people's wardrobes and on the black market, but it’s not considered cool to sport them anymore. Blame Kanye and his erratic behaviour that reeked of God complex. The closest I get to pulling a Yeezy out from my wardrobe are the slides because they are comfortable. I never had an ache from wearing them for too long,” says Lovedeep Gulyani, costume designer and stylist, who recently styled for the Nextflix show, Class
Even with more drops and fewer rises in sneaker resale value as reported by global markets, overall, the Indian market is hopeful and proactive in sneaker investments. To begin with, look for an exit plan for Yeezys, but, “your usual suspects such as Nike, adidas, and New Balance, still stand. Among the new-age brands, I suggest keeping an eye out for Suicoke,” says Ghosh. With Y2K fashion on the rise, Lepcha thinks the resurgence of ‘90s’ terracewear brands like Fila, Diadora, FUBU, etc. should be anticipated. MTV nostalgia and Rock classics are set to be game-changers in the coming season. Anchit Kapil, CEO and co-founder at CrepdogCrew says, “Air Jordan is the holy grail for investors, old and new. For a first-time venturer of reselling or investing in sneakers, it’s best to go for a classic pair such as the Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro High OGs, mids or lows. No matter the colourway, the Air Jordan 1 High tends to hold its value really well and is most likely to increase in price.” Kapil, who runs one of India's largest sneaker and streetwear marketplace, adds that the Louis Vuitton x Nike “Air Force 1” collection by the high fashion house and Nike, which the late Virgil Abloh directed, blew the sneaker community away, and since the release in June 2022, the demand for these nine styles around the world is strong.
Collaborations are still a big seller
There is an increase in luxury brands teaming with sportswear brands, like Nike’s collaboration with Tiffany on a pair of Air Force 1. Naruto x Zion Williamson x Air Jordan 37 is another one to watch out for this season. Lepcha is also excited about the new concepts and ideas that have been popping up like the MSCHF Big Red Boot, Louis Vuitton x Kusama collab which was a new-age augmented reality collaboration. “Sneakers have finally found their place in mainstream fashion,” says Sharma. “Iconic footwear brands are collaborating with luxury, bridge, and even up-and-coming designers to craft capsule collections and sneaker lines. For us, it’s the upcoming ASICS X Vivienne Westwood collection,” he concludes.
Lepcha advises you to continue donning that chunky look, which has been transitioning from lifestyle to performance. “The chunkies are here for some time as they are metamorphosing into boots. Canvas has seen a fatigue as the college look and feel slowly fades out, giving rise to the antithesis of maximalist sneakers, the utilitarians, the vegans, the minimalist sneakers,” he says. Outdoor is the new cool with hiking and mountaineering influence. This is the ultimate revenge to the mundane work-from-home culture and with the new influence of rock music and Y2K.
According to Gulyani, “The only sneaker trend you need to endorse is sneakers that stay on your feet for long, and you can live in. New Balance and the ASICS are hitting it hard with their ultra-cool underground collaborations, from Vivienne Westwood to JJJJound and Salehe Bembury. The classic sneakers are getting a super cool twist, and the dad chunky sneaker shape is here to stay. The Balenciagas of the world continue to reinvent but maybe a lot of the population won’t be going back to that brand."
It’s unbelievable that the Fila’s Disruptor II are as good to wear on a low-waisted satin skirt and a crop top, as much as they are for teaming with a chic shirt and wide-legged jeans. The semi-high tops make them ideal to wear to a music concert that requires you to stand around for long hours, thanks to their comfortable soles, and on a camp when paired with denim shorts and a white linen shirt. They are available in subtle pastel colours such as pink yarrow, buttercup, purple rose, coral blush, sky blue, and gardenia.
Saucony, a Massachusetts-based sneaker brand’s Shadow 6000 Space Fight sneakers are ideal to walk in, run in, and casually style with joggers and a hoodie for a meeting with your website coder! It was dropped as a sneaker for performance runners in 1991, but now they are great to take it to a casual night out for tacos. The detailing on the shoe is strong with a matte burst of colours, an ode to space and for us, the hues of the prism. The red and black represent the atmosphere on Mars, the orange is for spacesuits, the pastels represent space snacks.
One of the most comfortable running shoes in the sneaker space, they also have ample style for you to don them outside the running track. Because they have heavy cushioning and softer landings, you can wear Gel-Nimbus 25 on long flights, or over an athleisure look. They are available in colours such as Pink Rave/Pure Silver, Dusty Purple/Papaya, and Ink Teal/Lime Green and will sparkle up any muted activewear, or a blue denim and a black t-shirt combination. Thumbs up on their sustainable effort since the foam is made from at least 20 per cent bio-based material from renewable sources such as leftover waste from sugar cane processing.
The colourway on Nike SB Dunk ‘What The Paul’ series is eclectic—think mismatched uppers featuring ornate embroidery, wild prints, and colourful gradients in a range of textures from mesh, leather, and suede, to patent leather, and woven materials! You can pair the shoes with distressed jeans and a black crop top and looks beyond it, too. Wear them with a solid-coloured shirt dress or a plaid skirt and let the colours on the shoes do the talking.