Sneaker store shelves are in a state of flux. Fresh models are constantly added to entice would-be purchasers, and the hottest models are almost continually re-upped. But, there comes a point when a once-dope sneaker jumps the shark and is done to death.
Simply put, it isn't cool anymore.
Once a sneaker goes mainstream, it's easy to say that it's not as desirable to those early-adopter consumers, who were on the shoes from the jump, helping make them an underground phenomenon. The elitist/populist model states that certain things start as high culture, and then they're matriculated down through pop culture, until the people who started the trend don't fuck with it anymore.
Sneakers, for the most part, aren't high culture, though. They're for the people. But people don't want to be seen in the same sneakers as the next man. And that's not to say there aren't sneaker elitists. They go on a hunt to find the next "dope" sneaker to re-start the cycle.
Sneakers, for the most part, aren't high culture, though. They're for the people. But people don't want to be seen in the same sneakers as the next man.
Some sneakers don't need an athlete, a marketing budget, or a celebrity co-sign to make them desirable. Certain sneakers have a undeniable appeal. They're viewed as new and interesting, and people with a keen eye for trends pick up on them. At times, even the brands that made them didn't have a plan for these sneakers, but the buzz around them starts to grow, and as more people purchase a sneaker, heads of companies think to themselves, "How can we make more money off this silhouette?"
The common answer would be to make more of that sneaker available. And, usually, the brands do. This is great news for most people. Limited sneakers that were available at very few doors or online avenues are now easier to purchase. The brand decide to release new colors, too.
As the sneaker's popularity starts to blossom, a few people will jump off the trend. The product gets affirmed as something more than just a niche product and this is where things become tricky. Now the sneaker is known. It's no longer a signifier of something next level. It's a shoe that everyone from tweens to their grandparents have in their rotation.
Big retailers have to try to predict the market. If something looks like a surefire trend, major companies are going to place all their bets on one style. This, unfortunately, can easily lead to stores flooding the market. It doesn't become a matter of "which sneakers do they want?", but "how many colors of that sneaker can they have?" But taste in sneakers moves so quickly. Large retailers are always going to be behind trends. They won't invest in a product unless it's a proven commodity. But by the time these sneakers are in their stores, it may already be too late.
Big retailers have to try to predict the market. If something looks like a surefire trend, major companies are going to place all their bets on one style.
But big business isn't the only one to blame: boutiques can kill sneakers, too. It's a trend to collaborate on popular sneakers, and give them a spin that means something to a boutique. But when every small-scale store is doing this—and using the same silhouettes—the product loses meaning.
The same can be said for retro sneakers brought back out by brands with impressive back catalogs. Most people want to see the original versions of sneakers get re-released. And, usually, they sell out within the blink of an eye. Brands don't want this to be a one-time experience, and they'll often stretch a sneaker's welcome to new color make-ups in order to spread the sneaker to a broader audience.
These newer versions may rack up sales, and make the brand, retailers, and even the kids working in the stores money. But even though this sneaker is thriving, it lost what made it great. The whole reason it earned respect was because everyone wasn't wearing it. And even though the sneaker has never sold more pairs than it has, it's also becoming a troublesome burden.
Sneaker stores will get flooded with 15 colors of one sneaker because people, and #influencers, have co-signed it as purchase worthy.
When the sneaker is on sale, people's moms are buying it. Not because they think it's amazing, but because it fits within their budget. This is when a sneaker becomes stale. It's either at the point where it become a consistent part of the brand's rotation, or the brand decides it's time to phase the sneaker out in favor of something new.
Still, even if the sneaker is done to death, someone can still wear it because they like it. There shouldn't be a policing of what sneakers are acceptable to wear or not. Brands shouldn't dictate what someone is going to wear. If the original sneaker means something, no matter what the brand does to it, it will continue to be a great sneaker.