Sustainability has become a buzzword in the fashion world at present, and the trend is sweeping the footwear vertical too. Footwear accounts for a fifth of the environmental impact created by the overall apparel industry, with over 700 million metric tons of CO2 generated as a byproduct of its production and raw material extraction every year.
As social conscience becomes a bigger platform for innovation and fuel to trigger step-change improvements within the footwear industry, NPD data reveals that 36% of individuals aging 18-34 years have done shopping in the recent past to support brands’ social position.
This creates a meaningful opportunity for brands to capture value from increasingly conscious customers. Companies need to be forward-thinking and have an ecological and social responsibility to flourish in the near future.
Customers that will represent the largest customer base prioritize these issues, and companies must over-communicate their market position to retain them in the sustainable footwear market that is both growing and transforming.
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Sustainable Footwear Market – Key Trends and Drivers
Sustainability makes true business sense with regards to the supply chain, and that when both companies and customers are engaged throughout the value chain, it triggers a mutual agenda advancing around more conscious footwear manufacturing.
Recent data reveals that about 300 million pairs of footwear are disposed each year and, on an average, it requires 30-40 years for a pair to completely decompose in landfills.
Adoption of recycled materials in footwear leaped 70% y-o-y in 2019. With emergence of startups, committed efforts by established brands, and penetration into footwear by sustainability leaders, sustainable footwear is witnessing an uptick.
The time is ripe where shoe makers are making considerable strides in circularity and sustainability. These are holistic shifts which include boosting the adoption of recycled, renewable, and bio-based materials, while also exploring innovative ways to produce, design, and package.
Sustainable Footwear Market – Growth Restraints
Majority of players in sustainable footwear market find it challenging to invest in technology and talent to develop fully sustainable footwear from scratch. As such, some manufacturers are seeking more creative ways to join this movement.
Due to factors such as complexity, size, and lack of proper infrastructure for recycling or repair, the footwear industry is yet to leverage the full potential of sustainability without alienating customers.
Raw materials required to manufacture sustainable footwear are relatively expensive compared to that used in production of conventional footwear. That said, technological advances in terms of recycling fabrics more effectively are slated to curb the cost of obtaining raw materials in the coming years.
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COVID-19 Impact on Sustainable Footwear Market
The COVID-19 pandemic has trapped the world and the footwear industry unprepared and the subsequent societal and economic downturns are putting forth unprecedented challenges.
While the sustainability drive has been the norm in the footwear industry across various domains including, sport, luxury, fast fashion and value retail, the pandemic is straining the commitment of companies and retailers to sustainability.
Having that said, latest studies suggest that the ongoing public-health crisis simultaneously demands brands to accelerate their shift towards sustainable initiatives in an effort to remain competitive in the footwear market that will make sharp recovery after the COVID-19 chapter.
Sustainable Footwear Market – Regional Analysis
Asia Pacific (APAC) brands are leading the pack in ensuring responsible footwear choices. Sustainability-focused initiatives such as “Fashion For Good” aims to trigger transmutations at the structural level throughout the footwear and apparel supply chain via funding sustainable innovations in Bangladesh, India, and Vietnam.
Much in the same vein, sustainable footwear brands in Europe are emerging to meet the demand as well as help transform the footwear industry for the better. Rising number of fashion-conscious consumers who are willing to pay premium for the products they value is further attracting stakeholders’ attention.
Furthermore, the European Commission has introduced the 2020 European Social Innovation Competition with an aim to enhance the eco-friendly and social impact of fashion.
To address these challenges, the competition is seeking creative solutions that promote sustainable production, usage and adoption of fashion, as well as the shelf life of fashion products.
Sustainable Footwear Market – Competition Analysis
While established sustainable footwear manufacturers are already focusing on sustainability and have made it a pillar for their business from the early stage, emerging players are leapfrogging onto the sustainable footwear movement.
- Adidas is developing and testing footwear derived from 100% recyclable materials. In addition, brand has publicly pledged to bank solely on eco-friendly materials in their products by 2024
- Giesswein exclusively uses Merino wool in its footwear that is made from small, independent farmlands where animal welfare is a key priority. It has also imposed a zero-waste policy to ensure all left-over wool scraps from the manufacturing process are recycled and blended into other products
- Reebok has announced a running sneaker that incorporates plant-sourced, instead of petroleum-based materials
- Reformation utilizes bio-based materials rather than plastic inside their heels, and water-based adhesives in place of toxic glues that most manufacturers bank on for shoe assembly.
Players in the sustainable footwear market include Adidas Group, Native shoes, Tropicalfeel, Nike, Rothy’s, Veja, Reformation, Nisolo, New Balance, MATISSE FOOTWEAR, Amour Vert, and Threads 4 thought.
- The report is a compilation of first-hand information, qualitative and quantitative assessment by industry analysts, inputs from industry experts and industry participants across the value chain.
- The report provides in-depth analysis of parent market trends, macro-economic indicators and governing factors along with market attractiveness as per segments.
- The report also maps the qualitative impact of various market factors on market segments and geographies.
Sustainable Footwear Market – Segment Analysis
By End User
- North America (U.S., Canada)
- Latin America (Mexico, Brazil)
- Europe (Germany, U.K., France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Russia)
- East Asia (China, Japan, South Korea)
- South Asia (India, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia)
- Oceania (Australia, New Zealand)
- Middle East & Africa (GCC Countries, Turkey, Northern Africa, South Africa)