Fashion isn’t always about the latest trends, but rather the culture behind them. After all, culture shapes fashion.
Sneaker culture is ever-evolving and growing in popularity, creating an entire subculture dedicated to sneakers’ history, art, and fashion. This culture has been embraced by many apparel brands that recognize the potential of tapping into this market and using it to their advantage.
If you’re on the outside looking in, it might seem peculiar that there is such a distinctive culture and lifestyle surrounding sneakers, an article of clothing traditionally viewed as casual. But the sneaker culture has developed a world of its own, with members dedicated to collecting, trading, and discussing sneakers.
What is Sneaker Culture?
Sneaker culture is centered around a passion for footwear and the stories behind them, with enthusiasts often taking part in events and forums to discuss the latest trends. This culture goes beyond the typical athletic and streetwear styles. It includes re-releases of classic or vintage sneakers, collaborations with artists and celebrities, and limited-edition releases.
But where did it all begin? Today, the presence of sneakers in mainstream fashion speaks to the influence of Black culture.
During the late 1970s, the basketball and hip-hop subcultures contributed to the rise of sneakers as fashion statements rather than just functional gear. Michael Jordan, who began wearing the Air Jordan 1 in 1984, revolutionized the sportswear industry by creating a new market of sneakerheads who sought to buy and collect all the different versions of his shoe.
In recent years, sneaker culture has grown exponentially and now includes exclusive releases, collaborations with celebrities and streetwear brands, and even entire stores dedicated to selling sneakers. There’s a major opportunity for apparel brands to tap into the sneaker market, and we’re about to show you how!
How Apparel Brands Can Benefit From Sneaker Culture
Here are a few strategies to spark inspiration for your next sneaker collab:
Offer Limited-Edition Releases
Limited edition = high demand (as long as it’s done right, of course).
Clothing brands can partner with sneaker companies to offer exclusive releases of sneakers or apparel that are only available for a short time. Customers will be more likely to buy if they feel like they’re getting something special that isn’t available everywhere.
Fashion is all about exclusivity, and the right sneaker collab can give your brand that edge.
Partner With Influencers and Celebrities
Influencers aren’t going away anytime soon. The influencer marketing industry is expected to grow to $16.4 billion by the end of 2022. We’ll wait to see what the future of influencer marketing looks like, but we can be sure that leveraging partnerships with popular influencers and celebrities will continue to be an effective way for apparel brands to reach a larger audience.
Many prominent clothing and sneaker companies collaborate with influencers and celebrities to create exclusive products that will excite their fans. By partnering with the right people, brands can increase customer engagement and potential sales.
Stay Updated on Trends and Releases
Sneaker culture moves fast. You blink once, and a trend could be old news. Keeping up with sneaker news and releases is essential if you want to stay ahead of the curve.
Research upcoming releases, keep an eye on what influencers and celebrities are wearing, and follow the right social media accounts to stay in the loop.
By keeping up with sneaker culture, apparel brands can stay current and offer products that customers want. This can help to increase customer loyalty and brand recognition.
Foster a Community of Enthusiasts
Sneaker culture is all about community. Create a forum where customers can discuss their favorite sneaker styles and collections. The best platform for your forum will depend on your target market. For Gen X consumers, Facebook could be a great choice. But if you’re targeting a younger demographic, you should consider Discord or Reddit.
By creating a safe space for sneakerheads to discuss the latest trends and releases, you’ll be able to build a community of enthusiasts. This will help increase customer loyalty and generate valuable feedback about what customers like or dislike about your products.
The Most Influential Sneaker Collaborations
Let’s look at a few examples of clothing brands that capitalized on the sneaker hype to develop iconic (and wildly profitable) collaborations.
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Nike x Supreme Air Force 1
The rich history of the Nike Air Force 1 combined with the streetwear credibility of Supreme made this collaboration a must-have for sneakerheads.
In 2020, Nike and Supreme debuted the collab with two signature colors, “Triple Black” and “Triple White.” They also introduced a “Wheat” colorway.
This collection is a perfect example of how two iconic brands can come together to create a product that delights its customers and makes its mark on the industry.
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BAPE x adidas
A Bathing Ape (a.k.a. BAPE) and adidas have collaborated since 2003. The two iconic brands have released a series of classic and limited-edition collections that are highly sought after by sneaker lovers worldwide.
The relationship between BAPE and adidas has longevity that is rare in the fashion world. They’re not showing any signs of slowing down.
In 2022, BAPE released an adidas Superstar that is akin to the 2021 edition, but the 2022 release has a black upper with a white BAPE STA motif and Three-Stripes.
We can’t wait to see what other amazing collaborations the two brands will release in 2023 and beyond!
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PUMA by Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen’s collaboration with PUMA was one of the most talked-about sneaker collaborations in 2018. It set the stage for future luxury collaborations and launched a new era of collaborative branding.
The Puma Thunder Spectra offers a dad shoe vibe with Alexander McQueen’s style influence. It features red, yellow, and teal on the upper with a black toe cap. The shoe is chunky enough to be fashionable, but not too bulky to look out of place.
This collaboration was a hit because it combined two distinct styles—dad shoes and luxury fashion—into one trendy sneaker.
The culture of sneakerheads is constantly evolving. By staying up to date on the latest sneaker trends, apparel brands can capitalize on the hype and create products that their customers will love. Keep an eye out for upcoming releases, collaborations, and exclusive collections to stay ahead of the competition. When it comes to sneaker culture, you can never have too many options.
Need Collab-Worthy Apparel?
Our team at Scrappy Apparel has you covered. We specialize in manufacturing showstopper apparel that’s perfect for collaborations. We are an all-in-one manufacturing solution, which means you don’t have to worry about sourcing materials or managing production.
We have an experienced team of makers who are passionate about creating wearable art that stands out from the crowd. We specialize in apparel from the waist up—t-shirts, hoodies, and more.
And the cherry on top? We offer fast turnaround times, so you’ll never miss a deadline again.