India isn’t exactly considered as a big player in the global sneaker market. However, shifting political dynamics, widespread exposure to new trends and growing disposable incomes is making Indian consumers more connected with the global fashion and footwear industry than ever before. Consequently, sneakers are being widely accepted by the country’s fashion community.
Origin of sneaker fashion in India
Sneakers first became popular when designers Rixi and Jayesh of the brand Quixbox showcased their range of sneakers from adidas Originals Stan Smiths and Superstars as a part of their Spring/Summer 2015 collection. This marked a turning point for sneakers’ place in Indian fashion.
Huemn, founded by National Institute of Fashion Technology graduates Pranav Misra and Shyma Shetty also merged sneakers with its design sensibilities. The brand outfitted its models in various styles and colors of Reebok Classic sneakers for itsAutumn/Winter 2015 collection.It repeated this during the Spring/Summer 2019 show, while techwear-inspired brand Nought 01 made its models walk the runway in Vans for its Autumn/Winter 2018 show, and utilised adidas Originals for its Spring/Summer 2018 lookbook.
Luxury sneaker retailers like Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton are also gaining popularity amongst the country’s affluent crowd; However, India largely remains a follower rather than a leader of sneaker trends.
Lack of availability and high prices mar growth
Two major factors that hinder the growth of Indian sneaker market is: lack of availability and high prices. Sneakers like the NMD, UltraBoost and YeezyBoosts are priced 33 per cent higher compared to American and EU because of import duties. Though Yeezy Boosts and UltraBoosts retail for about $200 in the US and Europe; Indians have to pay $325 to $375 for these models due to import taxes. Resellers also use bots during exclusive sales which makes it tougher for Indian consumers to buy desired sneakers. These bots allow users to access the front-end of the store, run an automated add-to-cart command and then simply check out — all before any stalling or technical problems occur.
A bright future outlook
Although a localised version of a “Sneaker Con” was held in March 2018, India is yet to host a large-scale sneaker event on par with Sneakerness or Sneaker Con. Lack of shopping options and opportunities may be considered as one of the drawbacks in India, with zero sneaker consignment stores across the country and cultural centers like Mumbai lacking any streetwear-specific shops.
However, there is definitely a market for sneakers in India as many brands are opening dedicated stores for serious sneakerheads. Future certainly looks bright for the Indian sneaker fans.