It seems performance footwear is out and fashion is in. As part of a seminar at FN Platform, The NPD Group — a market research company — reviewed just how the footwear market performed in 2015. Among the growing shoe categories? Fashion-focused athletic sneakers and gender-neutral styles.
“We saw a real slowdown in performance footwear in favor of more fashion-focused athleticwear,” said Beth Goldstein, industry analyst and executive director at NPD. Top-performing women’s brands in the category included Skechers, Nike and Converse, while men’s brands included Nike, Jordan and Timberland.
Gender-neutral fashion also proved to be a major trend for the year. Citing recent ads like Jaden Smith starring in Louis Vuitton’s women’s campaign, Goldstein said the movement has trickled down into more unisex offerings from brands such as Sperry and Timberland, who offer styles in both men’s and women’s sizing.
According to NPD, the footwear market drew in $65 billion in sales (up 4 percent from 2014). The growing categories for the year included more fashion-focused takes on sneakers, slides, snowboots and rainboots.
Goldstein said the favored styles fall in line with the wants and needs of the millennial generation. “Millennials are looking for multifunction and multiuse,” Goldstein said, adding that sneakers made up 70 percent of their purchased footwear.
The sportswear-inspired trend also filtered into the hiking business. Men’s hiking styles performed particularly well in urban areas, seeing a 6 percent growth during the 2015 holiday season (fashion styles cited included Balenciaga, Aquazzura and Bally). Women’s winter boots grew 31 percent.
The seminar briefly touched on how the holiday season performed as well, which saw a three percent increase in revenues from last year. Retro and classic athletic styles dominated the footwear category. “It was a tough holiday season, but innovation and newness really drove the business,” said Goldstein.
Goldstein also touched on online sales versus traditional brick and mortar.
For 2015, 24 percent of total footwear revenue came from online sales. Still, with physical stores making up 75 percent of the market, Goldstein assured that “the store is not dead.”