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Athletic Footwear Sales Soar/Athletic Shoe Industry Draws Endorsements from Top Athletes, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Athletic shoes have long been sporting the names and endorsements of famous professional athletes, particularly basketball legend Michael Jordan.  Nike’s line of Air Jordan shoes has been the top selling shoe brand of all time.  Other athletes in the Nike stable include LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Carmelo Anthony.  This trend to sell a shoe under an athlete’s name is called “marquee footwear.”
A new twist to marquee footwear is that which sports a famous designer’s name instead of an athlete’s.  Stella McCartney, a high-fashion designer and daughter of former Beatle Paul McCartney, began collaborating with Adidas in 2005 for hip athletic shoes and clothing.  Another designer/athletic shoe partnership was that between traditional shoemaker Cole Haan and its former parent Nike.  The combination resulted in a line of comfortable street shoes called Cole Haan Nike Air.
Prices for top basketball shoes are in the hundreds of dollars, with a few collectible models topping $1,000.  Of course, there are cheaper, more fashionable alternatives on the market which are attracting teen consumers especially.  One big leader in the trend toward chic athletic footwear is Germany-based Puma.  Puma, which experienced dismal sales in the 1980s while Nike leaped to the top of the market, is enjoying a renaissance.  The company has focused on style and fashion, aided by designers such as Germany’s Jil Sander and American supermodel-turned-yoga guru Christy Turlington.  Although Puma’s sales figures are still dwarfed by heavy hitters like Nike and Reebok, it continues to do well.
Nike overhauled its computerized supply systems to increase efficiency and focused on international markets for soccer and fashion shoes and apparel.  (Nike gets more than one-half of its revenues from markets outside the U.S.)  Nike’s marketing budget is legendary, including multimillion dollar sports star endorsement deals.

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