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If you told anyone after Eliud Kipchoge’s win during his October 2019 marathon that the future of Nike wouldn’t appear so bright in 2020, you most likely would have received a blow in the face. Unfortunately, the pandemic and its effects have shaken the footwear industry to its core after major manufacturers were hit along the supply chain.

It’s likely that brands were already eyeing the 2020 Olympic Games, and envisioning themselves as significant sponsors of A-league athletes. With the appearance of Nike’s Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%, companies such as Nike most likely had bigger plans for the better part of 2020.

The pandemic is an unfortunate occurrence that has resulted in consumers changing their attitudes and habits towards purchasing footwear.

According to specialists from sites such as, footwear purchases are now not a matter of “I want”, but rather, “I need”. Fortunately for Nike, they made significant sales of the Alphafly before the pandemic hit.

Re-defining Innovation

With COVID-19 insight, sales going down, and the pandemic affecting frontline workers, brands have had to be innovative to keep afloat. One of the significant ways through which brands showed how creative they could be was by taking up the challenge of protecting healthcare workers at the frontline of serving those affected or infected by the coronavirus.

Fortunately, companies such as Nike managed to manufacture and distribute much-needed equipment such as face shields with material meant for their shoes.

In the past, sneaker and footwear companies did not focus on long-term innovation but instead relied on fashion seasons and changes that would improve their sales.

However, all that is changing as companies like New Balance managed to produce thousands of face masks as Under Armour joined the party. The question before us then for the future of sneakers and footwear is: how innovative will companies get?

Consumers seem to have shifted their focus from wants to needs. This is likely to become the new normal for footwear companies as they shift their production from servicing trends to ensuring that they meet the needs of different industries and populations.

Sustainable Footwear

Post COVID-19, it is likely that more people will start working, which will rise as the new normal.

As a result, footwear companies can already see the trend as it unfolds. As much as people are trying to tighten their wallets, footwear companies still realize sales.

But, it’s not the sales of designer shoes that’s fueling footwear companies. Because of working remotely, the new trend in footwear will most likely focus on athletic footwear and comfortable, casual shoes. All footwear companies will converge to manufacturing “appropriate” shoes that are practical and comfortable enough for remote working.

In the new world that we’re heading to, no one wants to purchase seasonal shoes that will have to wait for special occasions for wear. Instead, consumers want to buy silhouettes that are casual and ideal for situations where one is required to work or learn remotely.

Even when normalcy resumes, it will likely take a while before consumers recover from the economic downturn before they can afford to make footwear purchases that only speak to their fashion wants.

Other than comfort, another aspect of future footwear that’ll affect the shoes we purchase is safety.

It is believed that the coronavirus can live on the soles of our shoes for some time. It’s, therefore, an important marketing factor for manufacturers to produce shoes that are easily cleaned.


With the advent of the coronavirus, the footwear industry has faced a slump with footwear sales going down in most countries. However, there’s a lot more to look out for as companies rely on innovation and sustainability to keep afloat. There’s no doubt that the footwear industry will change significantly in the future.

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1 comment
  1. Sneakers (Us english) or the more correct, Trainers (in UK english) are the most environmentally unfriendly footwear, non recyclable and full of toxins in the glues etc that leach into the soil when they end up in landfill as they invariably do.

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