At the beginning of the classic 1980s office rom-com Working Girl, Melanie Griffith’s character arrives at the Wall Street investment bank where she dreams of climbing the corporate ladder and swaps the white Reebok high-tops she wears with a skirt suit on her morning commute for a pair of pointy black pumps.
While it might have been common practice for working women in that era, that certainly isn’t the case in this day and age. “It’s much more acceptable for women to wear sneakers to work now, as office attire codes are much more relaxed these days,” says Anthony Ho, Manager at local sneaker store Leftfoot, who shares that his stores have seen a roughly 20 percent increase in the demand of the style over the last few years.
Elizabeth von der Goltz, Global Buying Director at Net-a-Porter, also notes that the category is one of the fastest growing for the luxury e-tailer, with brands such as Gucci, Saint Laurent and Givenchy among the top sellers. “Sneakers,” she confirms, “are now very much a part of our customers’ everyday wardrobe.”
Gijs Verheijke, founder of digital marketplace Ox Street, adds that while the general athletic footwear market is in an upward trend (sneaker sales on his platform have increased by about 5 percent per year), it is the sneaker resale market that has “exploded in recent years, growing as much as 25 percent per year since 2012”.
Locals tend to lean towards environmentally friendly European brands such as Veja and Common Projects, shares Simon Chua, Retail Manager at Pedder on Scotts. “Their minimalist sports luxe styles,” he explains, “work for both creatives and corporate dressers.”
Indeed, sneakers are surprisingly versatile these days—you can wear them just as you would fashion pumps. “We’ve seen customers purchase dresses together with sneakers,” says Christopher Daguimol, Director of Brand Communications at ZALORA, who reveals that the e-tailer’s sneaker sales see a 50 percent jump every six months.
“It’s the combination of comfort and style that ultimately drives the transition to sneakers,” says Verheijke, perfectly summing up the appeal of the flexible style.