Yeezy’s first-ever drop in India was not a very difficult task but an easy score for the sneakerheads in 2016. There was not much craze or hype about them. Nobody wanted to spend a lot of money on just a pair of shoes in 2016.
Interest and demand have since spiked. Sneakerheads, that’s what they are called these days, waited in long queues for hours in January to cop a Reebok x Pyer Moss pop-up, which sold out soon after its drop. Travis Scott’s Nike collaboration, the Travis Scott x Nike SB Dunk Low, was impossible to get pair of shoes.
India’s fashion industry is known worldwide for its unique handcrafted and traditional clothing designs and fabrics. But the quickening development of international streetwear and sneaker brands in the subcontinent reflects changing customer tastes in GenZ, signaling an opening for international brands and hinting local designers and retailers to widen their scopes, if they want to remain in the race. Adidas’s recent high-end drop this month in India, the A+P Luna Rossa 21 trainers created in collaboration with Prada, sold out on the day of its launch itself. According to the brand, key collaborations with global creators have been a big rage in India lately with most drops selling out immediately.
Researches reveal that in 2020, spanning the complete months of lockdown, high-end running shoes and branded sneakers have been the topmost searched items on the Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart. India has revealed itself as the world’s second-largest footwear market following China, valued at approximately $10.6 billion in 2019 and predicted to reach at least $15.5 billion by 2024. Still, the market for high-end trainers, like the coveted Nike Air Jordans, is limited only to a handful of sneaker boutiques only like VegNonVeg and Superkicks, which opened their stores in 2018 in Mumbai. Heavy import duties result in higher prices and brands have to contend with resale marketplaces like StockX, and individual resellers in the market.
Exposure to diverse cultures through worldwide travel and social media platforms has played a vital role in driving this boom. “Instagram acts as a major driver in bringing western influence,” says a senior marketing manager at India’s first multi-brand trainer boutique VegNonVeg, which opened in 2016 in New Delhi.
While sneakerheads are often taken as young, trend-driven shoppers, Managers at VegNonVeg counter that the customer in India isn’t defined by a single demographic, and they see college students and working adults come to shop VegNonVeg.
A younger wave of Bollywood actors, prominently Varun Dhawan and Ranbir Kapoor, were among the first to sport these high-end imported sneakers. Kapoor flaunted Jordans on multiple occasions back in 2016, a trend quickly noted by his fans. “People closely see their favourite actors or media personalities wearing a certain outfit, and that will become the trend,” say professionals from the blog Sneaker News.