Despite all of LOEWE’s Minecraft-y pixel hoodies and Studio Ghibli collabs, its sneaker game is comparatively low-key. Like, LOEWE makes great shoes but nothing’s ever found crossover success in the same way as its luxury peers’ ultra-marketable kicks.
LOEWE’s Flow Runner changes things.
This isn’t a new shoe I’m talking about, though you may not be familiar with it just yet. The weird thing is, the LOEWE Flow Runner has been around for some time but, all of a sudden, it’s everywhere.
When most consumers shop luxury labels, they’re looking to get stuff like handbags, fragrances, and sneakers. These are the most visible elements of conspicuous consumption and, if you’re spending high-end dough at a high-end boutique, you’re probably looking for something that reflects the amount of money you spent on it.
Fact of the matter is simply that most folks aren’t willing to drop that kinda money on high-end staples. I mean, I’m sure there’s big business in high-end hoodies but what people really want are statement accessories they can mix in with their day-to-day fare.
You can’t go stealth-wealth unless you’re, well, wealthy.
Hence the proliferation of obvious flexes like Goyard totes, Louis Vuitton scarves, Yves Saint Laurent clutches, Gucci Ace shoes, and Hermès belts.
This is all to say that LOEWE’s hit on this with handbags and accessories but LOEWE shoes, especially sneakers, haven’t taken off.
That is, until the Flow shoe recently strolled back into the public consciousness.
The way I see it, over the past couple years, luxury sneakers have shifted from the ultra-beefy chunksters (Balenciaga Triple S) to dad shoes (Balenciaga Track, Gucci Rhyton, Lanvin Curb) to retro runners like LOEWE’s Flow.
But, stylistically, there’s a gulf of difference.
Rather than define the exact difference between a “dad shoe” and “retro runner,” though, let’s go back to the New Balance 327, which debuted in 2020.
After a few hyped collabs, the 327 settled into its role in the New Balance stable as a general release model. But, in late 2022, it took off again.
This time, it was the general population snapping up the 327, rather than sneakerheads.
The New Balance 327 is worth mentioning because its one of the shoes that paved the way for the LOEWE Flow sneaker. The other is the adidas Samba.
No need to further break down the Samba’s current relevance — look, low-cut shoes are trending right now, what else you wanna know? — but, together with the New Balance 327, it created a market for a certain kind of sneaker.
We’re talking low-cut shoes comparably less chunky than, say, Nike’s Air Force 1 and much more rooted in a comfortably old-school aesthetic that’s at once very ’70s and very timeless (the 327 is directly inspired by New Balances from the ’70s).
These sneakers evoke classic running shoes like Nike’s Cortez and the original adidas Nite Jogger; they aren’t Y2K technical or classically “ugly” like dad shoes.
LOEWE’s Flow sneaker is the bougie evolution of that motif.
It’s interesting, too, how these shoes exist outside of industry release cycles.
Like, LOEWE first released the Flow several seasons ago and the New Balance 327 debuted almost three years ago. But these sneakers washed back up into the public consciousness due to the intangible ebb and flow of trends, giving them newfound relevance.
Much like with the New Balance 327, women’s sizes of the LOEWE Flow sneaker are especially desirable, though they have genderless appeal.
Imposing prices or not (the LOEWE Flow prices range from to $690 to $750), I’ve seen countless pairs of these things while walking New York (and there’s even more on TikTok). Purely anecdotal, yes, but often indicative of bigger trends (I see many more New Balance 327s, to be fair). I mean, companies are even duping LOEWE’s Flow sneaker years after it debuted.
The footwear industry is so big that multiple trends can happen simultaneously, of course.
The funny thing is that all of those other brands are debuting new shoes while LOEWE is making the most of the Flow’s sudden jolt in popularity. Hey, I bet LOEWE’s not complaining.
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