Robust earnings, high-profile collaborations and the right mix of brick-and-mortar and online efforts are among the reasons these footwear firms had a top-notch 2015.
Here, Footwear News recaps the high points for these 11 shoe companies, in no particular order:
The Swoosh dominated yet again with blowout sales numbers, leading the brand to set a $50 billion revenue target for 2020. While Nike lost NBA star James Harden to Adidas, the company still hit big with its latest LeBron James and Kevin Durant shoes, as well as a new partnership with Kyrie Irving. Excitement surrounding the highly anticipated Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II didn’t hurt, either.
Foot Locker Inc.
Foot Locker continued to outshine its competition. The retailer saw a 29 percent jump in profits in Q2, with total revenue of $1.7 billion. It also expanded its concept-store partnership with key vendors (Nike’s House of Hoops, Flyzone and Puma Labs) and introduced the Nike Kicks Lounge and The Armoury with Under Armour. Meanwhile, the firm also built more stores in Western Europe. FN certainly took notice, naming the firm Company of the Year at the 2015 FN Achievement Awards.
Skechers USA Inc.
Skechers capitalized on momentum in casual-athletic footwear, tripling its share price and nabbing double-digit revenue gains in each quarter this year. The firm also went after international markets, opening wholly owned subsidiaries in Latin America and Central Eastern Europe. On the domestic front, Skechers sponsored the Los Angeles Marathon and added Sugar Ray Leonard and Meghan Trainor to its roster of celebrity endorsers.
Sam Edelman, Fergie, Diane von Furstenberg and Famous Footwear are just a few of the heavy-hitting brands in the company’s industry-leading portfolio. In 2015, CEO, President and Chairman Diane Sullivan made one of her boldest moves to date — rebranding the firm formerly known as Brown Shoe Co. as Caleres Inc. Now, many insiders are waiting for Sullivan to make another buzzworthy announcement in the form of an acquisition.
Although VF took a break from acquisitions this year, its organic growth was red-hot. Both Vans and Timberland have enjoyed consistent double-digit growth, and the Bee Line x Timberland collection took home FN’s first-ever Collaboration of the Year honor in December. The firm also bowed new e-commerce platforms for Vans and Timberland, and it expects e-commerce to hit $600 million in revenue by 2016. Meanwhile, CEO Eric Wiseman bumped company veteran Steve Rendle up to COO and president, as company revenues remained steady amid currency pressures.
Wolverine World Wide Inc.
Although Wolverine had its share of challenges this year, it’s hard to deny the overall strength of the firm’s brand portfolio. CEO Blake Krueger remains focused on returning Sperry to its glory days while also elevating consumer awareness of Merrell. To that end, Krueger shed the Cushe brand and is closing more Stride Rite stores to focus on Sperry, Keds, Merrell and Saucony.
Steven Madden Ltd.
After kicking off its 25th anniversary year with the Wall Street-approved acquisition of Blondo, Steven Madden Ltd. solidified its reputation as a fashion-footwear powerhouse. Despite industrywide challenges that seemed to plague its competitors, the company pulled off double-digit comp gains and 5.5 revenue growth in Q3, its most recent quarter. It also added 15 stores this year and partnered with rapper Ja Rule for a shoe line.
Under Armour Inc.
Not only has the athletic brand seen its popularity skyrocket this year, CEO Kevin Plank has taken the company’s tech reach to new heights by snapping up MyFitnessPal and Endomondo. Plank also struck gold by tapping the right athletes for endorsement deals at precisely the right time. Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, pro golfer Jordan Spieth and ABT principal ballerina Misty Copeland helped the firm pull off its first billion-dollar quarter (Q3) this year.
Adidas Group AG
Adidas grappled with slowing demand in North America, but a buzzy collaboration with Kanye West, as well as a $200 million contract with NBA superstar James Harden, may have been just the “boost” the company needed this year. Adidas’ Yeezy Boost collab with West won FN’s Shoe of the Year award and was one of the year’s most sought-after releases. In other savvy moves, Adidas cut ties with Rockport this year, and CEO Herbert Hainer, who plans to step down from his post in 2017, signaled that a golf divestiture could be in the works.
One of the largest online shoe stores in the world, Zappos toyed with brick-and-mortar over the past year, opening pop-up shops in Seattle and Las Vegas, while scoring buzzy partnerships with SJP Collection and Virgin Atlantic. Meanwhile, founder Tony Hsieh continued to invest heavily in his community-building Downtown Project in Las Vegas.
Under the helm of CEO and President Rob DeMartini, New Balance turned up the heat on the athletic world, inking a 10-year partnership with New York Road Runners to sponsor the TCS New York City Marathon. The company, which moved into a new Boston headquarters this fall, also launched the “Always in Beta” campaign (featuring 17 sponsored athletes in its initial “Storm” commercial), signed baseball’s Robinson Cano and extended its contract with tennis star Milos Raonic.