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Shoe startups aren’t dragging their feet

Joanna Glasner Contributor More posts by this contributor Hydrate, intoxicate, caffeinate, repeat: Meet the startups pouring the future VCs serve up a large helping of cash to startups disrupting food Good thing Carrie Bradshaw, the shoe-loving heroine of Sex and the City, wasn’t a footwear venture capitalist. The high-heeled, high-priced and hard-to-walk-in pairs beloved by the TV icon are pretty much the least fundable concept in the shoe startup space lately. Instead, when they do dip their toe in the footwear space, venture investors have been putting a premium on comfort. At least that’s what recent funding records indicate. Over the past year-and-a-half, investors have tied up roughly $170 million in an assortment of shoe-related startups, according to an analysis of Crunchbase data. The vast majority is going to sellers and designers of footwear that people might actually want to walk in. Top funding recipients are a varied bunch, including everything from used sneaker marketplaces to high-end designers to toddler play shoes. Startups are also experimenting with little-used materials, turning used plastic bottles, merino wool and other substances into chic wearables. Below, we look at how startups are leveraging market trends to get a foot in the door. Growth market It should be noted that recent footwear funding activity comes on the heels of some positive developments for the shoe industry. First, this is a huge and growing industry. One recent report pegged the global footwear market at $246 billion in 2017, with annual growth rates of around 4.5 percent. Second, public markets are strong. Shares of the world’s most valuable footwear company — Nike — have climbed more than 50 percent over the past nine months to reach a market cap of nearly $130 billion. Stocks of several smaller rivals, including Adidas, have also performed well. Third, men are spending more on footwear. Though they’ve long been stereotyped as the gender with more restrained shoe-buying habits, men are putting more money into footwear and could be on track to close the spending gap. Sneakering in Both men and women are spending more on sneakers, and venture capitalists have taken notice. Sneakers and sneaker-related businesses…

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