Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Virginia Postrel

The Future of America's Shoe Obsession Is Male

Fewer heels, more sneakers: the cultural shifts behind new sales figures.
“You can’t have too many sneakers.”

You can’t have too many sneakers.

Photographer: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The “Sex and the City” stereotype of the shoe enthusiast as a fashionista with a passion for high heels is seriously out of date. Today’s shoe collector is probably buying sneakers and is quite likely male. Shoes may have as much glamour as ever, but it’s not the kind Christian Louboutin would recognize.

If current trends continue, men’s U.S. shoe sales will soon surpass women’s. At $26.2 billion in 2016 versus $29.9 billion for women’s footwear, “men’s is closer in size to women’s than it’s ever been,” says Beth Goldstein, fashion footwear and accessories analyst at the NPD Group. Women’s sales are shrinking as men’s continue to rise, in both revenue and number of pairs sold.