The Rise of Sandals in China: Summer’s Hottest Fashion Trend in 2023

The spotlight of summer this year is undeniably on sandals, with the help of the Brand Croc.

In the post-pandemic era, this footwear category, synonymous with “liberation,” has become wildly popular, gaining the trendy name “relaxation feel”. In no time, they’ve become the go-to accessory for fashion-forward men and women on the streets.

Crocs and Birkenstock

Iconic designs like Crocs and Birkenstock have made a notable comeback. The overwhelming popularity of Crocs this summer has young enthusiasts branding themselves as “Crocs lovers”. Meanwhile, the latest blockbuster movie, “Barbie”, has rekindled the fire for Birkenstock.

In the past, sandals were often viewed as a niche supplementary category in the realm of footwear, often lumped under home accessories. However, today, wearing sandals outdoors is not just a trend, but a lifestyle, making it a fresh market for brands to tap into.

Croc performance in China

In Q1 of 2023, CROCS reported a whopping revenue of $884 million, marking a 33.93% YoY growth, thanks to its sought-after design. In China, the demand for sandals has surged incredibly in the first half of the year, with sales figures from platforms like TikTok showing significant growth.

To understand the dynamics of the sandal market, an in-depth analysis was conducted, especially focusing on e-commerce giants like Tmall and Douyin (TikTok in China). Here are some findings:

  1. Market Distribution: Online and offline sales are roughly split in the middle. Tmall takes a larger share online, boasting sales of over 44 billion in H1 2023. On Douyin, the sales figures reached 22 billion, with men’s sandals witnessing a staggering 230.02% YoY growth and women’s at 93.54%.
  2. Product Categories: Thong sandals, slide sandals, and closed-toe sandals have been the fast-growing categories. Slide sandals, in particular, dominate the market share.
  3. Brand Analysis: Douyin’s market is characterized by a plethora of brands where product virality often overshadows brand recognition. CROCS, for instance, recorded over 260 million in sales on Tmall and 80 million on Douyin. Native brands like Daphne and Warrior also performed commendably.
  4. Market Commentary: The surge in sandal popularity can be attributed to:
    • The pandemic-induced indoor lifestyle making the distinction between indoor and outdoor footwear blur.
    • Younger consumers (post-95 and post-00) being more receptive to unconventional footwear.
    • A growing demand for comfort, with sandals symbolizing “freedom”, aligning with current consumer psychology.
    • Athletic brands like Nike and Adidas, and luxury brands like Hermès and Louis Vuitton promoting sandals.
    • Celebrities and KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) integrating sandals into fashion, inspiring consumers to adopt the trend.
  5. Data Source: The data comes from Magic Mirror Market Intelligence for Tmall and Chan Magic Cube for Douyin, covering the period from January 1 to June 30, 2023, and the same duration in 2022.

Not a small footwear category anymore in China

Sandals, traditionally a smaller footwear category, have diversified into various sub-categories like thong sandals, slide sandals, closed-toe sandals, and more. Comparing sales between Tmall and Douyin, it’s evident that the rise in sandals has primarily been in the three main categories of thong, slide, and closed-toe sandals.

With the global economy bouncing back, the sandal trend shows no signs of slowing down. Whether it’s for comfort, style, or a touch of rebellion, one thing is clear: Sandals are the ultimate footwear choice this summer.

…the slipper market in China

In a report on the slipper market in China, focusing on the first half of the year 2023, using the platform “Douyin” (known as TikTok internationally) as a source of data. Here’s a summary of the content:

  1. 一字拖 (Single-band Slippers)
    • This style dominated the market in the first half of the year.
    • Men’s single-band slippers accounted for 63.72% of the Douyin market, an increase of 289.28% year-on-year. Women’s slippers held a 58.05% share, growing by 85.7% year-on-year.
  2. 人字拖 (Flip-flops)
    • Men’s flip-flops made up 26.41% of the market, a significant 175.8% growth year-on-year. Women’s flip-flops held an 8.42% share but saw an incredible 376.54% growth year-on-year.
    • This style is more popular in southern cities like Guangzhou and Shenzhen, especially during the rainy season from June to September.
  3. 包头拖 (Closed-toe Slippers)
    • Men’s closed-toe slippers had a small 2% market share, yet experienced a 110.9% growth. Women’s variant occupied 33.09%, growing by 77.54%.
    • These slippers are considered more traditional, and their growth is slower than the other styles but still show potential.
  4. Brands:
    • CROCS: Dominated the summer market. While initially popular for beach and vacation use, the brand saw an increase in sales, partly due to successful brand marketing. With the release of the “Barbie” movie, Birkenstock also gained popularity. The sales of CROCS exceeded 260 million on Tmall and 80 million on Douyin.
    • Chinese brands: Daphne and Warrior (回力) stood out. Daphne, a women’s shoe brand, made a resurgence on Douyin with sales exceeding 250 million. Warrior, a long-standing domestic sports shoe brand, held a 9.24% market share in the male slippers category on Douyin, with its best-selling product being the men’s single-band slippers priced around 80 yuan.
  5. Market Trends:
    • Slippers offer a sense of relaxation and comfort, fitting well with current consumer needs.
    • The Chinese slipper market is polarized: there’s a clear distinction between generic/low-priced products and luxury/sports brand slippers.
    • Key product characteristics that brands are focusing on: personalized design, comfort, and vivid colors. Brands are encouraged to evolve and promote their products based on these directions.
  6. Conclusion: The competition in the Chinese slipper market is not yet saturated and there are still significant opportunities.

This report provides insights into the growth of the slipper market, the popular trends, and the performance of major brands. It emphasizes the potential of the market and suggests areas where brands can further enhance and promote their products.

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Shoes market in China

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