Peak sneaker: Kurt Geiger CEO predicts the return of the heel

At the Global Department Store Summit in London, Neil Clifford, CEO of Kurt Geiger, the world’s leading global luxury footwear retailer debated with Selfridges buying & merchandising director Sebastian Manes on whether the sneaker had reached peak sales.

Sneakers account for 65% of Kurt Geiger’s men’s shoe sales and 23% of all women’s.

Clifford said he was something of a lone voice in his business when he uttered a note of caution against the prevailing trend. “If you forecast forward, according to my planners, it’s all going to be sneakers, if you look at the numbers, the sell-throughs, the stock-turns, the achieved margins – sneakers are going to take over the world. But I don’t think that’s the case. It’s not as simple as that. You underestimate changes in fashion at your peril”.

Clifford acknowledged that sneakers are riding a phenomenal high, one that is driven by macro-lifestyle trends. But he reminded his audience that things change. When pushed for a forecast, he hazarded that sneakers could peak in the high-end men’s market in 2019. However he felt that for women’s sales they still had some way to run.

Manes disagreed on calling a bear market on sneakers. In the future, he said, although interest may switch from brand to brand, sneakers are strong forever.

Clifford’s comments are in line with our Footwear forecast here, at WGSN.

Following the enduring market dominance of flat footwear, we’re looking at data that indicate a shift back to smarter shoes heels steal back market share from flat styles. Download our complimentary report, the Future of Footwear, here.


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