The post-sneaker world
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A quick housekeeping note
Hello friends. We’re back from a brief hiatus and are excited to continue on with Hyper. We’ve taken some time to reflect on the direction, and here’s where we’ve landed (this will be helpful if you’re new here).
Hyper is a newsletter about the consumer world, and the brands, products, and trends that define it. We’ll curate weekly content for you and package into an email you can digest whenever you want.
We’re launching a reporting arm that will give you a deeper look into the world of consumer Research & Trends, emerging categories, product ideas you should be aware of, and much more. These reports will be paid and we plan to drop them roughly once per month.
These reports are perfect for anyone who’s a brand builder, trend forecaster, investor, generalist, or anyone who wants to use them for their business.
Our first report is dropping next week: The Activewear Running Report.
Here’s a primer:
The world of running is, perhaps, one of the more fascinating areas to watch in the activewear space right now. On the tail end of what’s largely been dominated by incumbents like Nike, ASICS, Brooks, Puma, Adidas, there is a wave of independent running brands rolling in, focused on high-quality, technical apparel, and it's exploded over the last decade.
A niche sport in a large market, running (as with other sports like golf, cycling, tennis, etc), has colossal potential for growth.
We unpack the commercial opportunity that exists in this space.
A post-sneaker world(?)
Over the last decade, the commercialization of streetwear and sneakers has created hype cycles that aren’t sustainable.
Consumers are burnt out.
Some of it’s been awesome to watch and participate in, and some of it also feels hopeless. The rush and crash of endlessly buying hyped-up kicks has become so plug-and-play with the big brands (also SNKRS app is still trash!) that the communal joy in acquiring and wearing things is tainted.
In lieu, we’ve noticed in the last few years that there’s a whole wave of brands and products that’s starting to really pop is how clogs (our catch-all word for mules, clogs, slippers, slides, loafers, and alt-sneakers) are damn-near everywhere.
1. Collabs + customization
I think people are having fun with these types of shoes right now because footwear is a huge ass market, and there’s a piece of the pie for everyone. The ceiling for collaboration and imagination is through the roof when you don’t have to depend on the sneaker oligarchs (Nike, Adidas, New Balance, and maybe ASICS).
But with clogs, there hasn’t been a culturally dominant shoe on the level of other sneaker brands outside of Birkenstock, so the creative optionality is endless (as you’ll see below).
2. Self-expression and mixing genres
This is a fascinating one to me, and it reflects where the market is currently at. The idea that “style” has historically been siloed by genre is no longer the dominant theme.
Clothing feels genreless in many ways.
It’s a mix of prep, vintage, tailored sneakers, and sometimes all together.
Here’s a breakdown of 3 buckets where I’m seeing a lot (and I mean A LOT) of experimentation happening.
Some of it’s good, some of it’s great, and some of it’s bad, but you can judge that for yourself.
GEN Z PLAYS THE HITS
The kids these days seem all about the classic shoe silhouettes. Converse, white Air Force ones, Doc Martens, Vans - simple choices that go well with everything, a dose of nostalgia that can easily weave its way through ever-shifting looks and vibes.
Clogs + Mules
Of course, we pay our respects to Birkenstock, the best ever to do it. No amount of TikTok girlies wearing the Boston slides can ruin that beloved shoe for me!
They will outlive the trends.
Still, the clogs and mules have become a shoe with a hot ticket shoe for independent brands to develop and collaborate on. Here are some we’re seeing…
Simple Shoes is a reborn 90s brand that’s been making a wide range of sneakers under the mantra of being… simple. Most of their stuff is ok to me, but the pony hair clog they designed honestly feels like their best one yet.
As a Clarks desert trek patron, this made me happy to see. They finally made a mule. Clarks as a brand culturally, along with their product quality, is unbeatable, and this felt like a natural extension/use of their classic desert trek.
Other to consider
Slides + Stompers
This bucket is where we're seeing the most overlap with streetwear. Of course, Kanye had his foam runners and Swiss cheese sho
es from 2018, but this corner of the footwear game has been blowing up over the last 12 months especially.
Suicoke x bodega
Bodega is one of the best retailers in the game, and they’ve made a technical/functional shoe with Suicoke, a Japanese brand that’s known for making some of the best-in-class slippers and sandals. Here are a few drops they’ve done together.
While Clearweather has traditionally been a hiking+streetwear shoe brand, they recently came out with a line of these colored slides. Nothing crazy; just adding to the noise.
Other funky shit
Albeit the Suicoke stompers (above) look similar to Crocs’ regular shoes we all know and love (or hate), these really feel eerily akin to Salehe’s silhouette—just minus the back strap. Just saying.
Did you honestly think Nike would let these independent brands have all the fun while they sit back? There’s a handful they’ve dipped into recently, one of which was with Bodega. The other two are yet to release, with Givenchy’s Matthew Williams release coming at the end of the month, and the Nike AF1 clogs (which have gotten a considerable amount of hate!
AND KICK, PUSH
The trend of everything from when millennials we're in high school becoming cool again continues, with skate shoes becoming a default silhouette of high fashions relentless attempts to hunt their way into streetwear shoe culture
+ a favorite from a smaller brand Amac
A newer brand whose footwear is off to a strong start: PDF Channel
The power of a great sole with Maison Yasuhiro
The evolution of the AJ1/Dunk reference with Mutsu
Meanwhile, in the post Kanye era, Adidas played the main card they had left, and went all in on the Samba - a classic that deserves this level of due.
Adidas x Wales Bonner
By JW Customs
AND THE FUTURE?
The future is 3D printed - Zellerfeld gives a platform to designers for on-demand shoes, but more importantly considers a future where up and coming designers could branch into footwear without paying for expensive, complex mold costs.
Kid Super for Zellerfeld