Sneaker Style

Living the Life

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K-Swiss/Slamm 99 Taking cues from a tried-and-true tennis shoe from the late 90’s, the Si-18, Slamm 99 has a progressive upper design that makes it unique. The shoe is offered in a variety of materials and builds on the brand’s authentic heritage. MSRP $85.
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The sneaker category has changed a lot over the last ten years. When it comes to lifestyle/comfort sneaker offerings, there are now way more brands in the mix, a wider demographic reach, refined textiles, new technologies and most importantly, more opportunities to wear a pair. “Sneakers are the first choice anywhere from formal school dances to brunch with girlfriends. You’re more confident when you’re comfortable,” explains Victoria Feldman, marketing director, Latitudes Inc. Sydney Simas, VP of sales and marketing, Simco Imported Shoes, says she has seen a “heavy increase in the use of knit in footwear” thanks to sneakers being worn for more than solely athletic purposes. “Technology is fashion today. Many of the most performance-oriented products are also the most stylish, and it is the functional aspects that makes them beautiful and distinctive,” chimes in Brian Keating, lead designer, K-Swiss. What has maintained is that sneakers need to feel good. “There’s comfort now, not only in the footbed, but in the construction materials, the foams, upper leather qualities and strategically placed elements. The look is comforting and understated, which keeps the vibe a little more luxurious than comfort sneakers of the past,” notes Kelsey Jayne, VP of design, Dansko. She adds, “Comfort has improved to be all-encompassing and has gone luxe.” Bryce Anderson, co-founder of new outdoor-inspired sneaker brand Landed, says, “When we set out to make the first Landed sneaker, we started with comfort in mind.” He adds, “People want comfort and they want utility in their sneakers.” Let’s take a peek at some modernized comfort offerings.

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Q: What do consumers expect in a comfort or lifestyle sneaker?

“Comfort is probably the no. 1 factor in choosing a sneaker. The majority of consumers aren’t looking for a high-performance shoe, such as running or hiking. They want something cute they can slip on knowing their feet won’t hurt at the end of the day.” – Sydney Simas, VP of sales and marketing, Simco Imported Shoes

“Consumers want cushioning and support that enables all day wearability. Sneakers have long provided flexibility and breathability (and this remain vital), but now this has to be accomplished with versatile designs that can be worn in a multitude of different settings from casual outings to light athletic activities.” – Logan Bird, VP omni-channel sales, Mephisto USA

“Women are on the hunt for a pair of sneakers that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also comfortable. Their sneakers need to fit their lives while ideally providing ample support to help them move throughout their busy day.” – Victoria Feldman, marketing director, Latitudes (mōshn)

“Aesthetics must not only be on trend, but offer the wearer something that makes them unique, something that mirrors their individuality. They also lean toward brands that come from a place of authenticity.” – Rudy Manival, director of product, K-Swiss

“Consumers expect advanced cushioning technologies that provide superior support and alleviate foot fatigue during prolonged wear. Additionally, there is a growing demand for versatile designs that effortlessly transition from fitness activities to everyday casual wear. Consumers also appreciate sustainable and breathable materials that contribute to overall foot health.” – Dan Werremeyer, president, Instride Shoes

“Today, 95% of the world’s population wear rubber-soled shoes, for leisure or business occasions, because comfort has become an essential element of the modern living. It is a phenomenon in constant growth. People want style together with comfort, they want both and they don’t give any room for compromise.” – Mario Moretti Polegato, founder, Geox

“Consumers are more knowledgeable about their foot health and the essential needs in footwear to provide not only cushioned comfort, but also ample space inside the shoe and toe box, supportive heel counters and shanks for stability for everyday wear. Our connection and history with Orthopedic footwear have provided us a clear path to meeting these needs for consumers.” – Jennifer Sokso, director of marketing, Propét

“Consumers are looking for a mix of elements in their sneakers. They want comfort, function, aesthetics and brand. ECCO consumers have a strong loyalty to our brand which we attribute to the combination of all those elements in our shoes.” – Brandy LaPlante, sales manager, ECCO

“With so many sneaker options out there, customers are looking for something that stands out in terms of comfort and/or styling. We are not a super techy brand, but we strive to have great arch support in all of our constructions. We are known for our awesome Classic footbed and all of our footbeds have this DNA.” – Megan Gold, design director, Alegria

“We’ve innovatively combined the comfort of soft, supportive footbeds and shoes with fashionable styles. The ideal comfort sneaker should fit well and feel akin to supportive cushions under the feet. Historically, this level of comfort was only associated with chunky orthopedic shoes, or sports runners, which typically aren’t the most fashionable.” – Hilary McMillan, group CEO, FRANKIE4

“Consumers want comfort, but they also want utility and style. There are so many sneakers on the market that are not comfortable. The consumers we have spoken to want to be able to have one sneaker in their quiver that can take them through the day regardless of what is on their agenda... office, lunch, shopping, golfing, walking at the park, hitting a trail, et cetera.” – Bryce Anderson, co-founder, Landed

“Comfort is top of mind for consumers and for Skechers’ design team. As The Comfort Technology Company, we understand how to combine trending silhouettes and colorways with our signature innovations like Skechers Arch Fit technology, or features like Hyper Burst, Max Cushioning, and Hyper Pillars for ultra-lightweight and resilient cushioning.”   – Kathy Kartalis, SVP of global product, Skechers

“When shopping for sneakers, consumers are looking for styles that have generous cushioning, breathable materials, are lightweight, and versatile. Our shoes look stylish and prioritize the essence of comfort, embodying the perfect synergy between fashion and the art of shoemaking.” – Andrew Agati, director of merchandising, Ara

“A shoe needs to fit well and feel great underfoot to be considered by a customer looking specifically for a comfort shoe, but that’s not the only consideration. The colors, design, and overall look of a product is nearly equally important.”   – Russ Stevens, product manager, Topo Athletic

“A ‘quiet luxury’ trend has emerged with consumers seeking timeless, versatile designs that prioritize comfort and style.” – Amy Egelja, VP of footwear design, Aetrex

“People want more out of their sneakers today. It’s not just a look, but also how can they help you with posture and provide health benefits. They want to look on trend with all of the support they may be getting out of their orthotics.” – Ayelet Lax Levy, president, Naot Footwear

“More look, with the comfort bells and whistles. Versatility. We craft new collections around comfort technology, and then we build the fashion looks and colors into the styling.” – Kelsey Jayne, VP of design, Dansko

“Today’s consumers want shoes that not only look great, but also provide exceptional support for all-day wear. They want a sneaker that is comfortable and is a good value. Taos leverages advancements in technology across every facet of development; from initial design and improved manufacturing techniques, to blending organic materials, sustainable compounds and ergonomic design principles for optimal support, style and quality.” – Glen Barad, founder, täōs