May 15, 2018

Footwear - Luxury-Label Sneaker Pricing Keeps Rising

By Lois Sakany
European luxury labels have jumped all over the sneaker trend this spring, releasing multiple high-priced silhouettes, indicating trends for the category remain robust.

The popularity of sneakers as a lifestyle item show no signs of abating, as indicated by multiple luxury labels that have jumped on the trend through their own high-priced versions of athletic footwear. Following the "dad shoe" look started by Kering S.A.'s Balenciaga's Triple S sneaker, multiple labels are now offerings similar iterations. 

The Triple S not only kicked off a silhouette trend, but the intense demand for the shoe even with a $895 sticker also created a pricing trend. This year, Prada S.p.A. launched its well-received Cloudbust sneaker that sells for $690, an amount that can be viewed as entry-level pricing within the category. 

Luxury labels LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton S.A.'s Louis Vuitton launched a women's Archlight sneaker priced at $1,090 in February, and Gianni Versace S.p.A. followed up with its Chain Reaction sneaker priced at $995. Valentino S.p.A. also has a full line up of embroidered men's and women's sneakers, priced as high as $1,295.  

Not to be outdone, Kering's Gucci, a label known for its everything-is-everything design aesthetic, recently rolled out a bejeweled sneaker made in collaboration with Sega Sammy Holdings Inc. and priced at $1,650 for women and $1,750 for men. The shoe will soon be available through invitation-only pre order. 

The labels have taken a varied approach to selling their products. Balenciaga, Prada and Valentino sell through direct channels as well as top-tier wholesale accounts. Louis Vuitton's shoe is only available to purchase at its physical stores. Versace's shoe was available on its online store and in its brick-and-mortar location in the SoHo neighborhood of New York. On the launch day, the shoe was also available through Culver, City-based 1661 Inc.'s, a site for buying and selling coveted sneakers. 

Released in limited quantities, sell-through for the aforementioned silhouettes has been strong and many colorways are sold out and being sold at a premium on resell sites. 

While demand for luxury sneakers by a handful of brands has been very strong with seemingly no ceiling on price, authentic brands like Adidas AG and Nike Inc. have taken a cautious approach to raising prices. Just last year, Nike was forced to lower pricing on multiple basketball models because of a slowdown in demand. However, based on luxury sneaker trends it appears there is room for both brands to begin to raise prices, at least on their high-profile limited edition launches.

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