Daily Insights

The It Sneaker Turf War

By: Liz Flora | Sep 23, 2019

So long, “it bag,” hello “it sneaker.”

Thanks to the influence of streetwear in the luxury industry, sneakers have emerged as coveted status symbols not just for die-hard sneakerheads, but for fashion shoppers worldwide. 

This is especially true in China, the world’s largest sneaker market after the United States. 

And when Chinese consumers think of sneakers, the brands they’re associating with them include both the usual suspects—activewear giants like Nike and adidas—and luxury labels newer to the sneaker game like Louis Vuitton and Gucci. 

L2’s new Luxury China: Streetwear Insight Report finds that on social shopping app RED, Louis Vuitton is the second most-mentioned brand associated with the “sneaker” hashtag after Nike. Out of the top five, four are actually luxury labels. 

Louis Vuitton’s popularity on the hashtag came mainly from its Archlight sneaker, which was praised by many commenters for making their legs look longer and more photogenic.

Other luxury brands dominated hashtags for certain sneaker styles thanks to their signature it sneakers. Gucci, for example, was the top brand mentioned for “little white shoes” in association with its iconic Ace sneaker. Balenciaga’s Triple S was unsurprisingly a star of the “dad shoe” category, while Dior’s Converse-style logo sneakers appeared under “canvas sneaker” mentions. 

As luxury has successfully encroached on the sneaker space, it is coming into competition with activewear brands defending their territory. But two can play at that game: as fashion expands further into streetwear and activewear product categories, activewear brands are increasingly embracing marketing strategies and even styles traditionally reserved for fashion. Fila, for example, just hosted a runway show at Milan Fashion Week, mixing streetwear-inspired looks and fashion pieces like blazers and dresses. Naturally, the runway show is being promoted heavily online in China, where it is used to market Fila’s upcoming Super Brand Day on Alibaba-owned Tmall.