Some people think that sneaker culture is a trend that will die out someday, but that’s just not true. It has always been around, from the rise of hip hop, to the catwalks and the streets–where people like you and I are rocking those dusty kicks daily. And thanks to social media, sneaker culture has evolved from a closed community of enthusiasts to the billion-dollar industry it is today in the span of just a few years.
Known as the place to flex rare kicks, Malaysia’s biggest sneaker event, SneakerLAH took place on 5 October and 6 October 2019 at MidValley Exhibition Centre. Amongst the big names present at the event, Skechers is relatively new but quickly expanding globally. Amassing an international following in the last 20 years, Skechers is already the third largest brand of choice for athletic footwear in America and in Thailand.
So how does a sneaker brand survive in this very competitive market? We spoke to the President of Skechers South East Asia, Vincent Leung, about Skechers and its part in growing sneaker culture in this region.
How has Skechers grown as a brand in SEA for the last 5 years?
I think for just standalone Skechers stores, we must have more than 400 in the region. So we’re growing very quickly. In Malaysia, we’re now beyond 100 standalone stores.
We’re continuing to open, not just more Skechers stores, but also developing lifestyle stores. We’ve also just opened our first kids’ store in KLCC. We’re trying to bring more products that are different into Malaysia and the whole SEA.
We could say that Malaysians have a busy and unique lifestyle. How would Skechers influence Malaysian culture?
I hope we’re making a positive influence. Malaysia is very unique, it’s a multiracial and multicultural country but with all living in harmony. I learned a lot when we first came to Malaysia.
I think we’re good in one way – that we’re a family brand, but we also try to be a lifestyle product with “cool” and “being cool” in our culture. So you can see that in all of our D-Lites, or our Energy shoes that we’re coming out with, but we also do a lot of performance line in our Go products. Like our GoRun and GoWalk products are super well-received.
We cater to different interests, different crowds and different lifestyles. I think that’s how we’ve grown in Malaysia and I hope that this will continue.
There’s a lot of competition in the sneaker world. What does Skechers do to stand out from the rest while maintaining the Skechers’ vision?
Sometimes we don’t look at it as a competition with other brands. Skechers is big in athleisure, so we talk about an active lifestyle but do it very happily.
In our Performance products, in our adverts, you’ll always see a lot of big smiles in our marketing and I think that puts us in quite a unique position. We’re not totally casual, but we’re also not very hardcore performance. We sit in that athleisure gap in the market so to speak, where we thrive with all of our different products.
We’re true to ourselves. We try to influence people one step at a time and as we move to build bigger and better stores, it will give them the best shopping experience – when they come in, they can always find something for themselves.
As you know, we pride ourselves in our products. Apart from being in trend, functionality is always important. It’s always light, very breathable, comfortable and cushiony. Combining all of these together will give you a shoe that you’ll always come back for.
What’s the biggest challenge as President of Skechers SEA?
We’ve always look at South East Asia as one big market. It’s a really unique opportunity to be here now. It’s made up of more than 10 different countries, and each country has its own uniqueness – the culture, the beliefs and different demographics. As I’ve said about Malaysia, it’s multicultural and unique, yet very trend-savvy and international.
I think the challenge I had when I first came here was to really understand all these factors and be very versatile, so that everywhere you go you’ll see the same Skechers, but at the same time we have to juggle it a bit to suit the different markets. And make it really cool.
So it’s all about understanding all this, but not losing the Skechers DNA. Every new city I go to has been an eyeopener. Not just different countries, even going from KL to Ipoh, to Penang and down to Johor and East Malaysia. It’s all different and it’s all very interesting.
If you were to introduce a Skechers to someone for the first time, what model would it be and why?
What I’m wearing today and what we’re showcasing today at our booth are the Energy shoes. They’re really the identity of Skechers. This is a retro shoe that we’re introducing back to the market.
This is a shoe that Britney Spears wore during her heyday in 1999, when she was Skechers’ ambassador. Everyone’s crazy about dad shoes today, so we’re launching this line today and we’ve improved them with our tech for comfort. And they’re unisex.
If you’re wearing Skechers for the first time, and you’re hanging out where the cool kids are, you can’t go wrong with the Energy shoes.
Crazy about dad shoes? Skechers got ’em all with the Energy and Stamina line.
To commemorate their 20th anniversary, Skechers debuted their limited-edition, remastered Energy Collection that was first introduced in 1999. Joining the chunky sneakers trend, Skechers also brought out the Stamina Collection that’s already available in stores.
While the Energy features more monochromatic tones, the Stamina is bold with its colours. (Check out both the Energy & Stamina collections below).
Skechers Energy Collection – The limited-edition, remastered kicks that were first introduced in 1999.
Skechers Stamina Collection – Splashed with bold colours, you’re going to stand out from the crowd!