The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 51 — The struggle is real

The numbers are in on just how broken footwear is.

Gooood morning, folks! Happy Monday! Welcome back to the Kicks You Wear. Thank you so much for spending a bit of your Monday morning with me.

So I jumped on a podcast, y’all! My man Julian Gray over at Keeping Stock was kind enough to have me on and allow me to talk about my sneaker journey and KYW. Take a listen! It’s available wherever you listen to podcasts at.

Tell a friend to tell another friend about us! We’re off to a hot start on the road to 1,000. Remember, the magic number is 800 for the next giveaway. Hit that subscribe button, fam. Don’t be shy.

The sky is falling on footwear

(Photo by Ryan Spencer on Unsplash)

Things are not looking up in the footwear industry right now, y’all, and that’s putting it mildly. The numbers have come in and they’re really, really bad.

All of the sales and deals that we’ve seen coming across our timelines over the last few weeks have not been nearly enough to keep bottom lines from bottoming out. March’s awful last couple of weeks could be a real turning point for the industry, Matt Powell of the NPD group wrote in a report last week.

  • U.S. sales in athletic footwear slowed by nearly 65% in week three and dropped even more to 76% in week four.

  • Sports lifestyle and skate categories have dipped by 60% after reportedly thriving before the coronavirus collapsed everything.

The ecommerce sales boom isn’t enough to shrink the widening gap the industry is seeing after losing so much foot traffic. Think about it. All the functional gear that we’re used to using around this time? We’re not using.

  • There are no spring sports so there’s no spring sports gear moving. You can’t run so you’re not buying runners. Sales can only make up that difference but so much.

Brands are still trying to run their operations and keep their release calendars on schedule, but keeping that up will be tough. Production factories are (rightfully) taking their time in starting back up. We’ve already seen a ton of delays with Jordan but that’s going to spread to more general releases soon.

This all absolutely stinks but this is the state of the industry right now and it will be for the foreseeable future. What worries me the most isn’t that these companies aren’t going to hit their revenue goals. Most of these companies have made enough money to survive this. In a sense, they’re too big to fail.

My biggest worry is the little folks. The workers that they employ that will be impacted once these companies start penny pinching. The conversation is going to shift away from the losses to furloughs and layoffs for those employees. And that’s always awful. Those conversations are coming. For some, they’re already here.

In a conversation with Footwear News last week, Footlocker CEO Dick Johnson talked about the decision making process when having those conversations.

“Everybody’s got a different decision-making matrix that they go through…But fundamentally there’s little to no revenue coming in — we’ve asked people to stand down as is relates to going out and being in public places, so I think it’s just part of that decision-making matrix that every company has to go through at some point during this discussion.”

The scary part is we don’t know how long these conversations will last or what extent they’ll go to. No one knows what’s going on here. There’s not really a “best practice” manual for it. This is unlike anything we’ve experienced in recent history and we were already behind the 8-ball as is.

We also don’t know what the attitude of the consumer will be once this thing is over. People aren’t going to spend the same ways they used to once this is all over. People are out of work. Their hours have been cut. Their dollars have been slashed. This recover is going to take a while.

So saying the future of the footwear industry is uncertain is an understatement. We’ll get out of this at some point, but it’s hard to say what things will look like when we do.

I just hope that, at the end of the tunnel, there’s relief for regular, every day people. Until we figure that out, though, those folks have all of my support.


By the numbers on Travis Scott’s rise to sneaker king

(Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash)

Travis Scott has become, almost simultaneously, the king of sneaker collaborations and one of the hottest artists in the music industry right now.

He’s not quite Kanye West or Virgil Abloh level yet, but if there was ever a proper candidate to get to that level it’s definitely Scott.

  • He’s had the two most hyped shoes of 2019 and 2020 (so far) with the Jordan 1 and the AstroDunk (yes, still going with that title).

  • The hype behind both Off-White and Yeezy has faded a bit since 2017. One could argue that Travis’ success is part of that.

His rise in both the music and sneaker industry industries has always felt a bit intentional — like he catapulted in both at the same time.

Turns out that is exactly the case, according to streetwear analyst and Technically author Justin Gage. In a piece he did for StockX, Gage broke down when the Travis hype started, how its grown and what the numbers have morphed into. It all started, basically, a bit before Astroworld dropped.

Astroworld – which went triple platinum and got nominated for three Grammys – released on August 3rd, 2018, exactly a week before Scott’s AF1 in Sail debuted (current resale value: $1K). But this wasn’t his first release: his cool blue suede Jordan 4s dropped two months prior, and his first widely available Nike collab – the AF 100 – was already reselling for $1K+.

Gage’s piece is absolutely worth your time so go read it. There are a ton of insane numbers in there, but the ones that got me? It was these.

  • The average resale, according to Gage, for Travis’ sneakers is 3.88 times retail. Off-White Nike’s, on the other hand, stand at 3.4 times retail.

  • Travis’ Jordan 1 alone resells on average for $1,100. That is insane.

The proof is right there. All hail the new sneaker king. Scott has amalgamated his music empire and sneaker empire and the results have been absolutely staggering.

More businesses should do what Vans is doing

(Photo by Jose Fontano on Unsplash)

Vans is one of those companies that will be alright once this coronavirus stuff is over and done with, but they’re helping those who might not be where they can.

Their “Foot the Bill” customization program is putting money directly into the coffers of the small business partners they’re working with. There are about 80 of them and they range from skate shops to restaurants and music venues, per Sole Collector.

Here’s how it works:

  • The small businesses vans is working with have created custom designs for Vans Slip-on and Era kicks.

  • The fans of those small businesses can purchase the custom sneaker that their favorite business designed from Vans’ web store. There will be 500 shoes produced per business.

  • All proceeds from the shoes purchased will go to those small businesses in need right now.

We’ve talked ad nauseam about how small businesses and all of the folks that they employ are going to be some of the folks who need the most help in this time. It’s dope to see a big company like Vans recognizing that and doing something about it.

For some of these companies, this money could be the difference between having to choose whether to keep the lights on or keep employees in the building. It’s a big deal.

Salute, Vans. Good shit.

FINALLY a great basketball shoe

I know I’ve done a lot of complaining about the state of basketball shoes right now, but I promise this is not that.

Nope. These Paul George x ACG PG4’s are actually amazing. I love them and I want them.

It’s the details that are getting me. The mudguard looks like it would on an actual ACG shoe. The PCG logo in place where the ACG would be is an incredible touch. It also led me to Google Paul George’s middle name, which is apparently Clifton.

Nike Basketball should do a lot more of this. The LeBron 15 wasn’t a great shoe, but the LeBron Watch stuff sure was fun. The Kyrie x SB collabs were great, too.

Please, Nike, give us more of this. And less of whatever the heck this KD shoe is.

What’s droppin’, bruh


That’s a wrap for Monday, y’all! We’re going to have a good week this week — I’m calling it right now.

Don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already! Don’t miss out on a free pair of shoes. We’ll be at 1,000 before you know it! I’ll holla at y’all on Friday! Be safe out here.

As always, peace and love. Be easy. Be well. Be kind.

Signing off.

Sykes 💯