How can white shoes help the billion-dollar sports shoes market?

Core tip: Swedish sports shoe brand Axel Arigato was founded in 2014, when simple white shoes abounded in the market. Adidas and Nike own Stan Smith and Air Force One. Slightly higher-end footwear brands include Golden Goose and Common Projects. Luxury brands Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen’s white shoes are also all the rage.
Swedish sneaker brand Axel Arigato was founded in 2014, when simple white shoes were everywhere on the market. Veteran Adidas and Nike own Stan Smith and Air Force 1. Slightly higher-end footwear brands include cheap golden goose and Common Projects. Luxury brands Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen’s white shoes are also all the rage.

In the past five years, Axel Arigato has made a breakthrough as a rookie in the footwear market. In October 2019, the brand’s sales are expected to reach 21 million euros ($ 23.8 million), compared to only 12.3 million euros in 2018.

Axel Arigato currently has four flagship stores in Europe and has worked with a number of retail giants, including department store Le Bon Marche, luxury e-commerce Ssense, luxury retail company Lane Crawford, and high-end retailer Selfridges. Although the product is rich and varied, the classic Clean 90 leather sneakers priced at 160 pounds are still its best-selling ace products.

Axel Arigato is not the only start-up company with a successful reputation and reputation built on simple white shoes. Greats, a men’s shoe brand based in Brooklyn, USA, was also established in 2014. As of the end of June 2019, its online sales have reached approximately $ 13 million. In August, American shoe accessories company Steve Madden acquired it (the exact amount was not disclosed). Greats’s ace product is the Royale series of simple sports shoes that sell for $ 179, of which the white model is most popular with customers.

Also gaining popularity in the footwear market is Koio, which was established in the second half of 2015, and its sales in 2017 increased by 400% year-on-year. Although exact financial data was not disclosed, it has so far received funding from Founders Fund, Acton Capital, actor Miles Teller, and producer Simon Kinberg invested a total of $ 10.3 million.

Koio’s products come from an Italian factory owned by Chanel. Koio’s best-selling style is the Capri Triple White sneaker for $ 250.

Selling simple and fashionable leather sneakers at affordable prices, these three sneaker brands have successfully entered the highly saturated consumer market. But their success not only stems from accessible prices, but more importantly the value for money. These brands produce high-quality shoes, but their prices are more competitive than traditional markets.

With digital retail strategies and engaging brand stories, Axel Arigato, Greats and Koio are able to compete with high-end brands and international big names such as Adidas and Nike. In fact, their core selling point is simple white shoes.

In recent years, the $ 100 billion global sneaker market has flourished with the rise of streetwear culture. In general, the demand for more and more casual mass clothing has made sports shoes a mainstream culture like never before.

The Industry Dynamics Tracking Organization (NPD) pointed out that sports and leisure will surpass the fashion category and become the category with the largest proportion of sales in the US footwear market, and the United States is the world’s second largest fashion industry market after China. Even if the influence of streetwear culture begins to fade away, white classics will still last, and it is not difficult to replace the “behemoth” like “daddy shoes”.

Matt Powell is the vice chairman and senior sports industry consultant of the Industry Dynamics Tracking Organization. “Ten years ago, we had three types of clothes: work clothes, sportswear, and clothes that go out on the weekend. Now, whether it’s work, fitness or weekend out, the same clothes can be used for different occasions.”

Axel Arigato, Greats and Koio set off a “minimalist fever.” The simple style of clothes is simply versatile: it is smart and stable for casual wear, and comfortable and stylish for casual wear. When shopping for shoes, consumers are most concerned about “looking and wearing.” Despite being affordable, Axel Arigato, Greats, and Koio still focus on high-quality leather, so they are still “good and cheap” luxury items.

The unique styles of these three brands are as always, but the color and fabric changes can still give consumers a new look. Axel Arigato uses a “Product Weekly Change” model to ensure a stable supply of new products. The new product is not a brand-new style, but adjusts the color and fabric of the product based on the existing style. Max Svardh, co-founder of the brand, said: “We don’t want to win by quantity, we just make innovations.”

Compared to other luxury brands, Axel Arigato’s price is much closer to the people and is therefore much favored. Common Projects sneakers sell for $ 415, and Saint Laurent’s white shoes sell for $ 520.

Axel Arigato, Greats, and Koio started as direct-to-consumer digital e-commerce brands, then expanded to physical stores and pop-ups (pop-ups), and established partnerships with specific wholesalers. Relationship, such a business model is also easier to maintain profitability. As a result, the first thing customers pay attention to is the product itself.

Koio co-founder Christ Wichert said: “We want our customers to pay more attention to our shoes. If they can see, touch and wear them, they will naturally like us Shoes. For us, quality is where we stand. If you just look at the pictures online, you ca n’t see the difference. ”

Greats founder Ryan Babenzien said when he first started his own brand, he always wanted to try physical sales. Today, 90% of Greats ’brand sales come from e-commerce platforms, and the remaining 10% comes from wholesale partnerships with US high-end fashion retail company Nordstrom, and Greats stores in SoHo, New York. The traffic conversion rate of this store is as high as 50%. Greats plans to open a new store in the near future.

Babenzien said, “E-commerce, physical stores, and cooperative wholesalers complement each other. Online stores and cooperative wholesalers will increase brand awareness. If our stores are everywhere, it will also be a great help for brand promotion. “

Why is a certain brand of white shoes so sought after? People know that other products look the same. Price is a factor, but price alone is not enough.

Axel Arigato co-founder Albin Johansson believes that “the brand must have a cultural core.”

For example, the French shoe brand Veja was founded in 2004, and the company’s “green” high-end sports shoes have received praise. This shoe is made from sustainable raw materials and the supply chain is completely transparent. About three years ago, Veja began to grow rapidly, and sales in 2018 soared to 30 million euros ($ 34 million), a 70% increase from the previous year.

For Axel Arigato, store activities are good for promoting brand ideas to consumers and forming a brand fan base. Store activities include customized sneakers, pop-up stores and guest guest appearances. Koio also often holds special joint events to attract consumers through news. Recently, it launched a limited edition sneaker with tattoo artist John Boy. Consumers can buy sports shoes and a dual gift package at the event site.

To be sure, Adidas and Nike will not lose their dominance. Despite the rapid growth of new companies, their market share is limited. Even so, these brands are unlikely to be short-lived, after all, little white shoes will never lack fans.

Axel Arigato co-founder Swat said: “The trend changes, but at any time, classic simplicity will only last forever and never go out of style.”