Without question in the ath-leisure industry the blue chip shoes have been basketball footgear. Whilst other types of sport shoes share the limelight the real star is the jumper kicks. Over the last decades however, market lead has eroded and many observers attribute this to superstar endorsement, no longer by itself, sells shoes. The formula worked for a long time, although sports varied from Baseball’s Converse’s Chucks to Basketball’s, Nike Jordan’s the shoes sold in their billions. Now it has all changed and urban teens (aged 12-17), which set the sneaker agenda, value leisure shoes as a kind of body art, or foot armour, which expresses their individuality rather than they are fans of Shaquille O'Neal (who once signed one of the biggest shoe endorsement deals, ever).
Not old enough to legally drive, kids transpose the same kind of brand equity and fashion more to sneaker types than their parents and older siblings did for quality cars. The Sk8’s or thrashers cult, (that is skate boarders to you and me) require all the protection sport shoes can afford but need to conform to the neo grunge fashions of the urban guerrilla. Conservative brown and black are back in and this further frustrates the giant sport shoe companies, who are now in crisis mode trying to recover their market lead. The new kids on the block reject the brand leaders in preference for their own shoes made specifically for skateboarding and sold through small specialist surfing outlets. All this comes at a time when many well-known retailers are expanding their premises to cater for the growth of accompanying apparel.
Sport clothing is enjoying a renaissance and shoes are considered by the market as the lure. Of course the real irony is by far the vast majority of people who are seen wearing said sports accessories have never seen a playing arena, let alone played the game for which the gear was designed. What does this tell us about ourselves? Why are we so willing to seek the best (well according to the elite athlete) to be able to truck up to the shopping mall for a quick jog at Walmart.
Australians buy more designer trainers than any other Western Country yet the general health of the populous would compare favourably to a third world country. They pride themselves they wear the gold medal shoes yet most of them could not run the distance of themselves without breaking into a huff puff…..
Lefton T 1998 Brandweek Feb 2, 1998