The U.S. is the world’s largest sneaker market, and shoewear sales from the top sneaker triad — Adidas, Nike and Under Armour — climbed in 2013 to a total of more than $25 billion, a 47 percent jump since 2009.
So who’s winning the sneaker game? You guessed it: Nike. In the U.S., the big Swoosh accounts for a staggering 90 percent of all basketball-sneaker sales. But what Americans buy, and why, might surprise you.
Below are 10 of the top-selling sneakers in August, listed with their average sale price, according to sports industry analyst Matt Powell.
1. Nike Air Jordan 3 ($165.29)
The top-selling Air Jordan 3, seen here in the Retro “Infrared 23” colorway, was first released in 1988, when Michael Jordan received his first NBA Most Valuable Player award. The sneaker has remained one of the Jordan brand’s perennial best-sellers, and has been re-released, “retro”-ed (and even re-“retroed”) several times over. Even with the high price tag, it nailed the No. 1 spot (to the point that some sneakerheads feel it’s been played out).
2. Nike AIR FORCE 1 LOW ($88.70)
Named for the plane that carries the president (and later celebrated by Nelly), the Air Force 1 has remained an icon. Its low-top version is a popular seller for men and women, and heavily customizable: The pictured version features a rainbow gradient in the sole.
3. Nike FREE 5.0+ 2014 ($92.33)
Nike’s top running shoe on the list is lightweight and comes in a number of colorways, including this, “Blue Lagoon / Clearwater/Bright Crimson.”
4. Nike Air Jordan 6 ($157.46)
Another pair of high-priced Jordan kicks (note all the Jumpman logos). Jordan sneakers alone pulled in more than $2 billion in American sales in 2013.
5. Nike AIR MAX 2014 ($151.84)
These cushy runners trade on Nike’s Air branding with an offer of “cloud-like cushioning to soften your step and keep you focused on your fitness.”
6. Under Armour HIGHLIGHT MC ($127.80)
Under Armour is only on the best-seller list once, but it’s still a big deal for a shoe company that only last year overtook Adidas to become the No. 2 sportswear brand in America. These sneakers are the only football cleats on the list, underlining how well the Baltimore-based shoemaker has done with the pigskin crowd.
7. Nike AIR MONARCH IV ($50.04)
Nike’s cheap, chunky, dad-centric cross-trainers won’t win any sneakerhead love anytime soon. But they still make the Swoosh a ton of cash.
8. Nike Air Jordan 14 ($168.65)
Getting sick of Nike yet? Imagine how their competitors must feel.
9. Nike FREE 5.0 2014 (womens’) ($91.90)
The first (and only) womens’ pair of sneaks on the list. Light and low-profile, designed for the run.
10. Nike ROSHE RUN ($73.15)
These “lifestyle” sneaks, maybe Nike’s most fashion-centric on the list, debuted on the market in 2012 and have edged close to the top of the Swoosh’s sales rankings ever since.