Women’s climbing shoe brands have become more dominant in the footwear market, but a number of factors are affecting their business.
As women continue to take on more and more responsibility for household chores and childcare, the shoe market is becoming more crowded, said Anita Nesbitt, a partner at New York-based footwear consulting firm Footnote, in an interview.
“There are more shoes being made in the United States that fit for a lot of different people, but they’re all the same size and they’re designed for different shoes.”
Brands can use different sizes, and some brands are using a more rigid, narrow shape to accommodate their female customers.
“That’s a huge opportunity,” said Ms. Nesbalts.
“I think we’re going to see more of that, especially with women.”
Brands are also looking for ways to keep their shoes fresh, like using natural materials.
“Women are looking for a shoe that they can wear for a long time, and they don’t want to be wearing something that is going to get worn out over time,” said Erin Fink, a retail analyst at research firm Euromonitor.
Brands have also found ways to appeal to different body types, like slim-fit jeans that are great for people who are shorter than average, while slim-cut hiking boots and boots with heels have become popular in the past few years.
Ms. Fink said she expects to see a lot more of the latter as women age.
But it’s also a growing segment of the footwear industry.
Women are spending more time outdoors than ever before, and many of them are wearing shoes with more room for foot-hugging.
“For the most part, the more space they have to move, the less they wear,” Ms. Valkanen said.
“It’s kind of a natural progression, and it’s something that I think is a little bit of a double-edged sword for a number, many brands.”
That trend is evident on Instagram, where women are posting photos of themselves wearing a variety of shoes, some of which look more like their shoes.
“When we look at Instagram, we look to see if a shoe fits me,” said Ashley B. Johnson, a social media manager for a fashion and lifestyle brand called Durex.
“What’s great about this category is that women are using their own bodies as a platform to show off.”
Brands that have embraced the trend include Nasty Gal, a company that makes women’s hiking shoes and boots; Stella McCartney, which makes athletic footwear; and Footnote.
In addition, several other companies have started to develop products that are designed specifically for women, including the brand Moms Shoes, which offers women’s shoes and socks for men.
But some brands don’t think that shoe trends will continue as they continue to cater to different bodies, said Michelle Nesbaitt, director of footwear innovation at Footnote and a partner in the women’s footwear business.
“The trend has not gone away,” Ms Nesbarth said.
The biggest challenge for women in climbing shoes is the fact that the demand for them is growing.
“We are in the process of looking at different products and looking at ways to increase our reach and broaden our reach,” she said.
While some brands have already started to embrace women’s sneakers, others have yet to figure out how to make a product that can be worn by both men and women.
“Some of them, I think are trying to do it all by themselves, but some of them need to get to that point,” Ms Fink of Footnote said.
A new generation of women’s brands is also looking to create a niche market for their footwear, especially in the U.S. That’s why women are starting to embrace climbing shoes more than ever.
“You see it in some of the more traditional women’s sport brands,” Ms Johnson said.
She noted that Nike, which has been focusing on women for the past decade, has been making the sport shoes it sells more appealing to women.
The trend has also been gaining traction in men’s footwear, as more men are starting wear climbing shoes.
A trend that was once relegated to the niche market is now growing.
Women have also been wearing them more often in outdoor climbing and climbing-specific sports, Ms. B. J. Johnson said, and that has made the brand even more successful.
“At the end of the day, women are the ones who are going to wear it, so that’s why it’s a big deal,” Ms Valkunen said of climbing shoes for women.
With women growing in their participation in outdoor sports, there are some companies looking to capitalize on that growth.
“In climbing shoes we are seeing a growing interest in women, and there are brands that are going after that interest,” Ms Mabry said.