In 2021, sneakers sales skyrocketed. In Q2, Nike had its best quarter in 50 years, and Puma witnessed a 96% year-over-year gain in sales. The secondhand shoe market has also grown, with the reseller market currently valued at $10 billion.
Startups are also revolutionizing the game by bringing new technologies to market. Such as metaverse wearable footwear and 3D printed shoes that can be reconfigured indefinitely.
Design for virtual reality
Gravity Sketch, a British firm, creates software that allows sneaker designers to design in virtual reality, making the shoes 3D from the start.
Designers use Gravity Sketch’s platform to put on virtual reality headsets and join each other in a virtual studio, where they navigate around 3D objects to draw and sketch directly on them. This makes it easy for designers to depict the foot’s ergonomics.
On the other hand, Adidas makes use of this platform and has recently released a virtual reality sneaker. Gravity Sketch allows Adidas’ global personnel, including the manufacturing team in Asia, to visualize the shoes in 3D beforehand.
“One thing we’ve noticed throughout Pandemic is that individuals are stepping into these virtual studios and working on their own stuff, but in the same environment,” says Gravity Sketch CEO Daniela Paredes Fuentes. “It mirrors the feeling of working in a design studio in real.”
Startups are making more than simply physical sneakers. RTFKT, a London-based firm, is developing unique digital sneakers with the goal of becoming the “sneaker brand of the metaverse.”
The startup, which operated quietly for a few years before going public in early 2020, sells shoe models as NFTs using gaming engines and blockchain authentication technologies. Consumers can “wear” their shoes using augmented reality technology.
A number of major brands have also entered the race. Nike has applied for new trademarks to protect its renowned swoosh insignia and “Just Do It” motto, indicating that it intends to design shoes for the metaverse.