Mules: Disturbing the footwear market

WGSN Instock looks at how the mule is disrupting the footwear market.

Tran-seasonal demand drives drops

In a globalised world of peripatetic workforces and nomadic lifestyles, consumers are not only crossing channels but crossing seasons when it comes to travelling.

The demand for trans-seasonality and versatility is a key driver across all categories and, at WGSN Instock, we’ve seen this trend to be particularly prominent in the footwear market.

Unpicking the data and analysing the patterns from new-in volumes, it’s apparent a balance is beginning to level across footwear categories; sandals increased for A/W17 whilst boots declined, a contrast given the traditional time for winter drops.

In the first quarter of 2018, we’ve seen both categories increase, with momentum for sandals, signifying the season-agnostic demand for phasing and drops in the market.


The power of the mule



Any shoe that is granted advocacy from Gigi, Gucci and Givenchy is guaranteed to take off, and 2018 sees the mule ride the curve into mass-adoption and drive the sandal mix, as the mass-market seek to emulate the trend.

The sports shoe has become a wardrobe staple following seasons of hi-lo styling comfort dressing; buoyed by athleisure and mass-casualisation. Are they a victim of their own success for retailers? Their longevity, adoption and infiltration as a trend, means that the majority of consumers will own multiple pairs and will be unlikely to need, or want, to repeat purchase thanks to their product durability and dynamic aesthetic.

Our data is showing that the sports shoe is nearing saturation and mules are beginning to, quite literally, give them a run for their money. We’ve seen sports shoes, including new products, discounted heavier on year-on-year basis. Meanwhile, mules have dominated the new-in mix with a 47.6% increase in the UK and a 75.8% increase in the US year-on-year.




Mules offer the transition



Consumers continue to be concerned with wellness, as a result, comfortability is still a driving factor right now, yet the rise of power dressing is beginning to gain traction. The mule offers the ideal hybrid that bridges the gap, and is the perfect vehicle for consumers, to slip into and walk into the trend effortlessly.

Retailers should act now, dropping mules to ensure their product assortment meets demand. Less restrictive in design than sports shoes, mules allow retailers to play with silhouettes, heights and embellishments to inspire transition and drive multiple and repeat purchases.


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