Performance basketball sneakers don’t sell as well in the U.S. as they used to, but that isn’t deterring new brands from competing for sales in the category.
China-based Anta has court-ready kicks that it’s now trying to get on the feet of consumers stateside. Anta’s basketball performance category is led by the KT2, the signature shoe of three-time NBA All-Star and sharpshooter for the Golden State Warriors, Klay Thompson.
The KT2 sold nationwide via the brand’s U.S.-based website, antaamerica.com, as well as Shoe Palace doors throughout California, Nevada, Hawaii, Arizona and Texas.
Despite now having performance basketball shoes available in the U.S., industry insiders believe it will be tough for Anta to take any shelf space from well-known brands such as Nike, Under Armour or Adidas.
“It’s hard to break into the performance market for new brands. You reach an audience faster from a lifestyle perspective,” Ankur Amin, co-owner of East Northport, N.Y.-based athletic retailer Renarts, told Footwear News. “Performance, people just go with tried-and-true.”
And even if Anta gets on retailer shelves in the U.S., experts don’t think consumers will be buying them any time soon.
“Basketball shoes are out of fashion. You could have the greatest player in the world and their shoes are out of favor,” said Matt Powell, VP and sports industry analyst with The NPD Group.
Anta could move its performance basketball shoes, Powell suggested, by delivering a style with more of a casual appearance.
“We’re starting to see brands put retro uppers on performance outsoles and doing these mash-ups of shoes that look old school but you could play basketball in,” he said. “That may be how we get out of the doldrums of performance that we’re in now.”
But Powell believes Anta’s performance basketball ties to Thompson isn’t to impress consumers stateside; it’s to impress consumers abroad.
“I think Anta’s strategy — and I think it’s a good one — is to say to the Chinese consumer, We have NBA players wearing our products, and therefore we are legit, we are authentic.”
The Anta KT2 is available now in multiple colorways with a $120 retail price.
Anta KT2 “Make it Rain,” $120; antaamerica.com