As athletic footwear sales climb in the low single digits, smaller brands like Fila, Puma and Champion appear to be flexing the most muscle in the sector compared to their major sportswear counterparts.
Sales at Fila USA shot up an enormous 33% in the third quarter, according to Matt Powell, senior industry advisor of sports at The NPD Group.
That’s in contrast to the state of the overall athletic market. In a recent report, Powell wrote that the men’s and kids’ categories rose in the mid-single digits, while women’s athletic footwear sales were flat, tracing these performances to purported declines at sportswear behemoths Nike and Adidas.
Fila, on the other hand, has been a bright spot, and its Disruptor 2 style was named FN’s Shoe of the Year in 2018. The brand, along with Puma and Champion, continues to report strong gains as consumers increasingly demand function, versatility and style.
“Fila is riding two trends: ’90s retro and ‘small is the new big,’ ” Powell added in an email to FN. “Smaller brands like Fila, Puma, Reebok and Champion are thriving right now. While their share is small, they are growing faster than the market and taking share.”
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According to Powell, growth in the athletic footwear sector can be attributed to a spike in the number of limited-edition shoes released in the quarter, compared with the same period in 2018. At the expense of performance footwear, which is once again struggling as basketball, running and training shoes show negative sales results, the sport lifestyle category advanced in the high single digits. Sport lifestyle now accounts for more than half of all athletic shoes sold.
“I predict that the athletic footwear and activewear markets will both experience soft performance in Q4,” Powell said, “but smaller brands will continue to be among the top growth opportunities and important to watch this holiday season.”
Fila Korea Ltd., the brand’s parent since 2007, posted revenues that increased 22% to 1.79 trillion in South Korean won ($1.5 billion), while profits climbed 34% to 138.75 billion South Korean won ($118.7 million).
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