The NBA season is back on after another restless summer of surprise trades and free agency moves. We delve into which brands have the largest presence in the sneaker market, how marketing has brought shoe launches to life and which trends have the most commercial appeal.
As previously reported, the NBA’s influence is transcending off the court especially as ratings shoot up with more fans abroad. In this report, we analyze how sports brands are competing to broaden and cement a presence as the basketball sneaker provider for the masses.
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Top 5 leading shoe brands in the NBA
- Nike currently sponsors a vast majority of superstars in the league, partnering with a handful of athletes like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to create signature shoes across all price ranges. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the latest to join the ranks with a $120 offering, while the LeBron 17 just released for a cool $200. The brand has set the precedent for those in the current basketball sneaker landscape.
- The most iconic brand of the group when it comes to basketball, Jordan shaped the idea of sneaker drops and the resale market with the introduction of its retro models. While the brand offers other performance basketball shoes, the revenue driver has been retro and other lifestyle-inspired footwear. Jordan’s player arsenal includes the likes of Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin and 2019’s first round pick Zion Williamson.
- Adidas has found significant success in its lifestyle footwear business with Originals, but is now focusing on performance categories like basketball. With its own portfolio of signed NBA stars, James Harden of the Houston Rockets has been the brand’s front runner with the fourth iteration of his shoe dropping this month.
- With an impressive portfolio of athletes across different sports, Under Armour has stood behind its most well-known star Stephen Curry. The brand also sponsors an impressive list of college programs exposing players to its products at an early age.
- Puma is proving it’s all in on its basketball relaunch by dubbing Jay-Z the new creative director along with the recent signings of big names like Kyle Kuzma and Marvin Bagley III. And for the first time in 20 years, the brand recently released the Clyde Court model.
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Activation = success
Nike and reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, affectionately known as the ‘Greek Freak’, launched his first signature sneaker in what Nike dubbed their ‘largest shoe launch to date’. The Zoom Freak 1 hit the market on July 1st with each release telling a different story surrounding his Greek heritage and reiterating the importance of creating a narrative around a shoe launch.
Just in time for New York Comic Con, Marvel and adidas joined forces for a ‘Heroes Among Us’ collection, including newly released basketball sneakers influenced by Black Panther, Captain America and Thor. Thus combining the two universes into a licensing dream and showcasing the impact of pop culture partnerships.
Even venturing out of basketball, NBA superstar Stephen Curry and Under Armour provided players can appeal to consumers with more than just basketball-related products. Known for his passion for golf, Curry launched his own range of apparel and accessories to sport on the course.
Trends to adopt
Chunky sneakers have been around for a while and, based on the Spring 2020 runways, shows no signs of disappearing. Monochromatic themes at Studio ALCH and Sean Suen were favored, though color-blocking techniques were also present. Consider commercial colors like black or white to appeal to a variety of consumers. Update existing products by adding influences of trail runners and pops of color.
This footwear shape was in collections from Dolce & Gabbana to Neil Barrett, often paired up with high socks and longline shorts. While high tops serve a functional purpose in basketball, this sporty silhouette is perfect for athleisure stories. Mass market retailers can add buckles or straps for a utilitarian-inspired aesthetic.
Color-blocking with shades like yellow and orange were most favored as the colors made its return to the catwalk. This technique should not only be limited to colors, but can expand into material mixing as well. Blocking can also be a great way to highlight different technologies or functions in a sneaker. Look to materials like mesh and suede to add interest while midsoles can be colored up based on various performance functions.
Pops of neon
Throughout the runways, neons were spotted across footwear shapes like sneakers, loafers and pool slides – thus indicated the staying power of the electric shades into next season. Even retailers have proved they’re all about neon when it comes to apparel. A simple, brightly colored pop such as lacing or a logo has seen success in the performance footwear market and can be easily adopted into mass assortments.
In conclusion, the NBA is trickling into the retail and fashion industry with more influence on our everyday clothes. So if you’re interested in how we pulled this analysis, reach out to a retail specialist here to talk about how EDITED can support your decision making.