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How Sneaker Culture Continues to Thrive Despite the Pandemic


FEELING GOOD--The pandemic has altered most people's relationships with consumer goods. One of the most interesting and notable trends that took place over the past year is how people treat fashion, especially with the shift to the e-commerce landscape.

While many parts of the industry suffered initially, sneaker culture has found a way to thrive. In fact, Market Watch reported that the sneaker market is expected to increase at a growth rate of 7.2% between 2021 and 2027, reaching a value of $1.3 billion. And while fashion may not seem like something people wouldn't prioritize, there's certainly more than meets the eye when it comes to the way that sneaker aficionados are keeping their communities alive.

Between coveted releases and a more connected community, here are several ways that sneaker culture continues to blossom amidst the pandemic.

Social Media
As it turns out, sneaker culture is alive and well on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. While people can just as easily buy brand new sneakers from online retailers, it is a different experience altogether looking for pairs from an independent shop. It creates an atmosphere of inclusivity among enthusiasts, and for many sneakerheads, shoes don’t have to be expensive to be valuable.

Whether you’re looking for a new design or a rare and used pair, social media engages sneakerheads from all backgrounds. You'll find profiles that simply resell shoes, while others like PrettyieCustoms create art by customizing truly one-of-a-kind kicks. Social media, particularly Instagram, has become the best place to make the shopping experience more personal.


Even docufilms have had a significant impact on sneaker culture in recent times. LeBron’s “I Promise” film features how the youth can be inspired to make promises to themselves to dream big, work hard, finish their education, and aim for success. Soon after the film’s release, the basketball star released a shoe design inspired by it. The new colorway for the signature LeBron 17 shoes includes the foundation’s name and aspirational messages such as “I promise I will dream big” and “I promise I will work hard.”

Such films inspire and encourage audiences from all backgrounds and ages to show solidarity with these sneaker designs. And this is done through a shared understanding that it’s more than just about the shoe — it’s ultimately about what it stands for. Even if you don't own LeBron 17 sneakers, it helps to remember that by putting on your favorite pair, you can aspire to do more and be more.

Online Communities

Part of what has made or broken a business during COVID-19 has been the strength of its online community. These have developed in the wake of quarantines and physical distancing measures to create a stronger connection between sneaker enthusiasts. Some communities even have their own platforms. One such community can be found on SoleSavy where members can get the latest news and exclusive drops, live sessions, and ongoing podcast episodes that discuss everything related to sneakers. Other communities like Goat also invest in functions such as augmented reality features to help their members get their hands on the best sneakers.

These connections are essential during a time when everybody has become further apart from each other and their favorite things. Bridging the gap with strong communities creates greater shared value while helping the industry grow. The easiest way to become closer to your local sneaker community is simply to participate, whether that's through conversations with other fans or reacting to new releases. It will help you form a special bond with others who have the same interests and passions.

Digital Art

Sneakers are only becoming more hyped up and hybridized as time goes on, even during the pandemic. Most of us are seeing trends where sneakers become funkier and more creative, with no signs of slowing down as far as trends are concerned. From sporty types to dancers meeting skaters, these hybridized styles continue to pop up in digital art designs.

Artists such as Chaitanya Dixit from India are quickly gaining more visibility in the sneaker scene in India, as 3D artwork styles and digitization of designs continue to rise. The possibilities are endless with so many creative minds working on physical and virtual fashion. To show support, buying from artists and crediting their work can go a long way. The next time you want to purchase a pair of sneakers, consider buying a unique design from an artist in your local community.

Sneaker culture is just one of the more positive trends we've observed at CityWatch. No matter the shoe design, the athlete behind it, or the community supporting it, the sneaker hype is a bright spot in the currently bleak world.