It’s not just team Nike or Adidas anymore

This weekend, Sneakerness, an international sneaker fair for consumers, will descend upon the Kromhouthal in Amsterdam. The event, which also takes place in other European cities such as Cologne, London and Paris, is especially for those who are interested in art, sports, music and fashion in addition to the popular casual shoe. Moreover: there are a number of major brands present. In Amsterdam, these include Patta, Foot Locker, Adidas and Puma.

FashionUnited speaks with co-CEO, Matthijs van der Meulen, about the current developments and trends in the sneaker world. He also talks about the opportunities that arise for small brands as a result of Nike’s focus on a direct-to-consumer model.

What developments do you currently see in the sneaker industry?

In recent years there has been a big focus on Nike, mainly on the Jordan One. That level dropped quickly, which was quite surprising. Nike dominated the market [met het model, red.] and then there was a point where people got bored. So they looked at other brands and models like the Jordan Four. In addition, we see that people follow big brands less, such as Adidas and Nike. There is more interest in the smaller brands.

Air Jordan 4 Retro. Image: Nike

Which brands have been given a chance as a result?

Those are brands like Karhu. New Balance has also been doing really well for the last two, three years and it seems like no one can stop the brand right now.

Consumers are now paying more attention to brands and silhouettes to find the best style and shoe possible. You don’t just buy one brand. You no longer have to have everything from Nike or buy everything that has to do with Adidas. They look for the brand that has the most beautiful basketball shoe or the best follow-on model.

So it’s not just team Adidas or Nike anymore?

Precisely. For example, Adidas is very strong in the basic models – Samba and Gazelle are doing very well.

What trends are currently forming among these giants?

Outdoor brands get a lot of attention. It is still a niche, but brands like Salomon are suddenly in fashion. You couldn’t have told me that five years ago.

Sandy Liang x Salomon. Image: Steven Yatsko

Adidas is still struggling with the termination of its cooperation with Ye. Who would be a good alternative to the sports fashion brand?

In the past they worked a lot with Pharrell [muzikant en ontwerper Pharrel Williams, red.], but as far as cooperation is concerned, it is difficult. Those are big shoes that need to be filled. Who can fill the void that Ye [Kanye West, red.] leave behind? I don’t have a clear answer to that.

Perhaps William’s new position as creative director of menswear at Louis Vuitton can be the deciding factor…

Absolute. He is a very professional man – he always has been. He knows the streetwear niches very well. If there’s one person, it could be him.

‘AW22 Samba’-Kapsel by Pharrell Williams. Beeld: Adidas

What other problems do you currently see in the world of sneakers?

As a company, Nike puts all its energy into a business-to-consumer model and tries to sell its products through its own website. They exclude the middleman, so the big stores, but also the small, specialized sneaker shops. This can also backfire, or rather, it’s already starting to backfire. You don’t see good Nike products in stores anymore. They used to be everywhere. Even in the special sneaker stores – where many of the trends originated – you can no longer find good Nike models.

Which brands have taken its place?

New Balance, Diadora and all smaller brands. Nike is really good at creating hype, many people have jumped in and tried to get their hands on all the limited edition sneakers. But nine times out of ten, of course, you have nothing. If you don’t get your 20th Nike, you’re fed up and you switch to another brand.

Saucony Originals ProGrid Omni 9. Beeld: Saucony

Why are these small independent stores such a hotbed for sneaker trends?

They listen to what is happening on the street – to what hot and happening is. A brand like Nike lacks that.

Who is leading the way when it comes to collaborations?

What New Balance is doing is really cool. They work together with young, fresh designers, musicians and artists, such as the American rapper Action Bronson.
Action Bronson x New Balance 990v6 “Baklava”. Beeld: New Balance

Nike is of course always on the right track with its collaborations.

Finally, which release are you particularly looking forward to?

By now I absolutely love New Balance and unfortunately they discontinued my favorite silhouette – the 997. This year they are bringing back the 998, which is my second favorite. I’m very happy with that, but I’m still hoping for a relaunch of 997 next year.

This article previously appeared on FashionUnited.DE. Translation and editing by Sylvana Lijbaart.

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