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The shoe industry is undergoing a massive shift as women ditch heels for sneakers

Business Insider | Jun 13, 2018, 12.45AM IST

Thredup

ThredUP

Plenty of high heels are for sale on ThredUp.

  • There is a growing movement in women's fashion toward swapping high heels for more comfortable shoes.
  • New data from resale site ThredUp showed that in the past three months, there has been an increase in the number of high heels being sent in by customers who no longer want them.
  • Meanwhile, the company has seen its sneaker sales grow.
  • In 2017, sales of high heels declined by 11% in the United States, according to The NPD Group's Retail Tracking Service. Women's sneaker sales were up 37% in the same period.

More women are choosing to dress down, and sales of high heels are suffering.

Online resale platform ThredUp recently released data that showed the company had seen a 38% increase in "heel purges" in the last three months, while sneaker sales were up 46% in the same period.

ThredUp accepts donations of clothing that it then resells online. Sellers can choose to accept cash for the sales or make a donation to charity.

"Our data demonstrates that athleisure is certainly a prevailing trend as women seek out more casual, comfortable footwear," Erin Wallace, brand director at ThredUp, wrote in a blog post.

According to The NPD Group's Retail Tracking Service, sales of high heels declined 11% in the United States in 2017, while women's sneaker sales were up 37% in the same period.

And it's not just the average consumer - celebrities are also growing tired of wearing uncomfortable shoes.

Serena Williams proudly admitted to wearing sneakers to the royal wedding after-party. She posted an Instagram photo of herself wearing a pair of Valentino sneakers with the following caption: "Little known fact: I often wear sneakers under my evening gown."

Women are also ditching heels as a form of protest. In May, Kristen Stewart removed her heels on the Cannes Film Festival red carpet in revolt against a Cannes rule that requires women to wear them there.

Kristen Stewart

Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP

Kristen Stewart removed her heels at Cannes.

Some have speculated that the decline in sales of high heels may also be linked to the #MeToo era and reports of sexual harassment, as women choose to dress for themselves rather than being sexually appealing to men.

Moreover, flat shoes enable women to escape from dangerous situations.

"You only need to spend a few minutes on the internet these days to see that, yes, there are quite a lot of times when, unfortunately, it would help to be able to run," Renee Engeln, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, told The New York Times in December.

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