In the current fashion world, we have too much of, well, pretty much everything. New brands are founded daily, offering new designs and viewpoints to consider. Between the numerous start-ups that use technology to make the "perfect" whatever and numerous companies that want to "cut out the middleman," the most egregious and over-populated genre after denim is the premium, minimal sneaker. Just like couples who have reproduced and brought a god-awful demon child into the world, we don't need another high-end, low-key sneaker.
This is by no means a knock on you if you’re thinking of testing the waters. I'm sure you're smart, organized and ambitious, not to mention devilishly handsome and possessing a charming wit to boot. It is, however, a knock on the premium, minimal sneaker market, which has been saturated with more fat than a Carl's Jr. burger. Aside from the fact that new brands mean more contribution to the terrible environmental problems that the fashion industry already causes, no one pays attention to these brands aside from branding them as what they are in 2015: knock-offs.
Perhaps I'm salty because I field emails and pitches from the unfortunate PR reps seeking coverage for many a Kickstarter, GoFundMe or IndieGogo brand founded by some guy who was an assistant designer at a well-known brand before realizing he couldn’t cut it and decided to branch out on his own. If someone ran those PR pitches into a word cloud generator, each one would come back with the exact same words magnified to prominence. And they would definitely remind us that the sneakers are manufactured in Italy at the same factories as Lanvin.
Somehow, every new sneaker brand popping up has the hookup to manufacture in the factories that renown labels do. I don't know how they do it. But Footwear 2.0 Brand X's assurance that their sneakers are made in these same factories—and, believe me, they'll be sure to let you know—sparks little interest when it's the new industry standard. A Margom sole, once a luxe signifier, loses its appeal as soon as it becomes a fucking requirement.
How Common Projects became the face that launched a thousand sneaker brands, I'll never be totally sure. It started as a very luxurious take on the Stan Smith (at $265!) that grew (and raised prices) and now owns the market that it established on its own at the $400 pricepoint. It is the iPod, which has become the iPhone. There may be similar items in the same category, but why would you truly consider anything else?
This deluge of new labels may be a testament to the walls of fashion being broken down. On its face, that's a good thing. Entrepreneurs and designers don't require a degree in fashion or any semblance of a pedigree to start their own business. As we all know, fashion elitism is officially dead. Anyone can do anything. Any businesses can start in tiny studio apartments and grow into a SoHo loft. But more often than not it feels much more like Pandora's Box. Everyone is doing everything.
Those who have started up in hope of providing more affordable alternatives still charge at least $250 for an unproven product in a market where there is tons of competition and an established benchmark of quality. Trying to reach the customer who wants to buy Common Projects, but isn't quite liquid enough to do so, by undercutting the price by just 25% isn’t enough. Like Inception, you have to go deeper. Really slice that price or, you know, just change things completely. Because the best way to justify any price tag is by creating something new.
The basic sneaker has been beaten like a dead horse ready to head to the glue factory. Why not try something a little different? Put a spin on the design and make it something that doesn't immediately elicit groans of "rip-off." Sure, that requires some extra ingenuity, creativity, design, research and time. Undoubtedly, some people will probably hate it. But at least we'll have an opinion.
Maybe I'm totally wrong. After all, this is how empires crumble. For all we know, this saturated market is a season of two away from completely sorting itself out. And, like, it doesn't take an economist to tell you that competition is vital to a free market. Just don't expect us to respond to your emails.