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British men now own more shoes than the average woman

Lauretta Roberts
08 June 2017

British men now own more pairs of shoes than the average woman, according to new research; a shift that has largely been driven by the growing popularity of trainers.

The average UK male’s footwear collection costs £861, compared to £789 for a women’s. His shoe collection typically comprises 19 pairs, including eight pairs of trainers, five sets of smart shoes, two pairs of boots, two pairs of sandals or flip flops, a pair of football boots, and a pair of wellies.

Online retailer surveyed 2,000 adults to reveal the results, which show that men have purchased three pairs on average in the past year, compared to two for women with trainers typically tipping the balance in favour of men when it comes to spend. Men on average own five more pairs of trainers than women, though recent research shows that women too are gravitating towards trainers and ditching the high heels. Mintel reported in September last year that of all women who had bought shoes in the prior year 37% bought trainers, while 33% bought heels.

Part of the reason for men having more shoes than women is also their reluctance to sell shoes they have not worn. More than three quarters (78%) of respondents admitted to only regularly wearing three pairs of the shoes they own while 82% own shoes that have never been worn (largely because they don't fit properly). Women are more likely to sell shoes in their collection with 32% having done so in the past year, as opposed to 17% of men.

"Although we traditionally think of females as having huge shoe collections, the research shows that men are catching up in the footwear stakes. Men’s fashion has certainly gathered pace in the past decade, with consumers becoming more diverse and daring, and now it seems men are on a par and about to surpass females when it comes to footwear. Trainers in the casual wear category is the largest growth category and it seems we can’t get enough," said Spartoo marketing manager April Buchanan.

"The rise in popularity of activewear and sports luxe clothing has accelerated the grow in trainers for a large majority of people, with consumers wearing trainers outside of the gym and sports activity. The relaxing of dress codes in the workplace and for formal events also means people have larger collections of casual footwear than in past years," Buchanan added.

Spartooo's finding's chime with overall figures showing that menswear in general is growing at a faster rate than womenswear (though it is still a much smaller market). Mintel is due to unveil its latest figures for the menswear market tomorrow as London Fashion Week Men's gets underway.

Case Study: Dan Freebairn, graphic designer & illustrator and “sneakerhead” (pictured above)

Freebairn, 26, is a graphic designer & illustrator from Manchester. He set up and solely manages and @KickPosters on Instagram, selling illustrated sneaker posters to fellow sneaker lovers. Through this Freebairn has also had the opportunity to build relationships and work with the likes of Puma, Reebok and adidas to name a few. At the moment he is working on a project with adidas, where he has collaborated with the brand on a series of collectable sneaker cards which are placed within every single order placed on (EU Only).

Why do you love buying shoes?

For me there isn’t one reason… The feeling every time you unbox a fresh pair is just as exciting as getting the latest phone or gadget on the market. I’m a designer so it’s cool seeing what new technologies are being used within the footwear industry, the various materials and colorways. But also they are a key part of your outfit, most of the time I’ll pick my clothes based on what shoes I want to wear.

What sorts of shoes do you buy? 

I think I fall under the “sneakerhead” title… it’s all about sneakers/trainers for me. When I was younger I didn’t have anywhere near as many pairs as I do now, but I was always trying to keep them clean or asking my parents for a new pair. Now I’m lucky enough to be self employed, work within the footwear industry and work closely with footwear brands my collection has grown very quickly.

How much you vaguely think your collection is worth? 

To be honest, I’ve no idea! I have over 140 pairs, which all retail for between £90 - £170. However, there’s a huge community of “sneakerheads”, across the UK, Europe and around the world. Most will also have big collections and be on the look out each and every week for the latest releases, especially the Limited Edition pairs. Nine times out of ten those Limited Edition pairs will sell out instantly and can double, triple or quadruple in resale value the same day. I’d say 50% of my collection are limited editions, some with a resell value of £150 others worth £900 or more. I don’t have the time to work it out, and to be honest I don’t want to know!

How does it compare to your girlfriend’s shoe collection?

My girlfriend loves her shoes as well, like most girls she has a fair few pairs of heels, boots, flip-flops, sandals and so on. But she also likes her trainers, maybe I’m a bad influence on her because she has twice as many pairs now, then when we first got together, but I’d say she has 30-40 pairs of shoes in total.

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