From Dior to McDonald’s, it seems any and every consumer brand has gotten in on the sneaker collab game. Now, the trend has spread to beauty labels.
Last month, “Stranger Things” star Millie Bobby Brown announced on her social channels a sneaker collab between Converse and her beauty brand, Florence by Mills. With designs inspired by the signature aesthetic of the Gen-Z skin, hair and makeup label, the limited-edition launch was the latest in a string of sneakers being rolled out by a wide range of beauty brands, including Summer Fridays, Humanrace and MAC Cosmetics.
“Sneakers and beauty are two unique categories that carry significant meaning to the wearer and have a passionate following,” said a Converse spokesperson on the collab.
The Florence by Mills collaboration was Brown’s fifth with Converse and fourth incorporating its custom sneakers digital platform, which allows users to create their own designs. For this collaboration, the now-sold-out sneakers allowed users to design sneakers with a set of colors and patterns taken from Florence by Mills branding. They had the ability to select the shoes’ canvas colors, lace colors, eyelets, patches and digital prints. According to the Converse spokesperson, the customization option is especially popular with Gen Z.
The brand in the space that is perhaps most closely connected with sneakers is Pharrell Williams’ Humanrace, which initially launched with skin care but calls itself a “product brand,” due to its launches in other categories. Prior to the skin-care launch, Williams had used the term “Humanrace” on Adidas collaboration sneakers that launched at ComplexCon in 2016. He abbreviated the name for later iterations of the style — those Hu sneakers became a cult favorite.
Following its launch of skin care, Humanrace was quick to branch into sneakers with another Adidas collab, launching an all-green shoe that was limited to 146 pairs. On August 27, the brand released a more widely available blue pair.
“We call ourselves a product brand. We already knew that we were going to do more than beauty,” said Rachel Muscat, co-founder and president of Humanrace, at November’s Glossy Beauty Summit. “Sometimes we forget that brands can be limited by one product category. For us, we want to live with the consumer at the beginning of their day and, ideally, at the end of their day.”
Brands branching into the sneaker world look for collaborations that make sense with the brand’s identity. MAC Cosmetics, for example, teamed up with Puma in 2018 to launch a set of sneakers in the same color as three of the brand’s popular lipstick shades.
When Summer Fridays co-founder Marianna Hewitt noticed many of her customers were wearing the sneaker brand APL, she decided to launch a collaboration collection last year.
“It was a way to excite our customers, while also tapping into a different type of consumer through APL’s loyal following,” said Hewitt. Summer Fridays focuses on self-care, which has prompted it to do another fitness-related collab with cult weights brand Bala in July.
“We have a similar, but different audience, so both brands were able to get the brand and products into our varying influencer networks and market the brand to a new customer,” she said.