As tennis shoes become more specialized, retailers need to understand their key features.
By James Martin
Consumers often fail to put much thought into purchasing sneakers. If they’ve found a brand that they like, they stick with it.
This is hardly an informed choice, especially in today’s market. Tennis shoes are becoming increasingly specialized, with an emphasis on one key feature, for instance stability, comfort, ventilation, or durability.
You can no longer assume that just because a brand is known for producing, say, super-cushioned shoes, that each of its models will offer a soft ride. Companies are filling niches.
As a retailer, you should take the time to understand a shoe’s main benefit — and, yes, drawback, because to get more of one thing, like stability, you usually sacrifice something else, like light weight. Once you’ve done your homework, you can help your customers make a smart decision.
With that in mind, here’s a preview of some of the fall’s hottest new kicks. (Note: All shoes are available for both men and women. Prices are suggested retail.)
Adidas a3 Prevail
What you should tell your customers: The Barricade is Adidas’ most popular shoe, as it offers a ton of stability for hardcore players. But some folks find that it’s a little too heavy for their liking. Enter the a3 Prevail, which is designed to be a lighter alternative. Mind you, it’s not a super-light model — a men’s size 9 weighs 15.7 ounces and a women’s size 7 is 13.8 ounces — but if you’re used to the Barricade, these shoes will definitely make you feel quicker on your feet.
800-448-1796 • adidas.com
K-Swiss Glaciator SCD
What you should tell your customers: The name of this K-Swiss tells you everything you need to know — it’s built to help you stay cool and dry. The Heat Deflection Core keeps court-surface heat away from the bottom of your foot, a thin metal-mesh lining in the midfoot provides ventilation, and the shoe’s lining wicks moisture away from your feet, which, by the way, is a chance to also recommend performance socks that do the same thing.
800-291-8103 • kswiss.com
New Balance CT/WCT822
What you should tell your customers: That these are feather-light shoes. How light? A men’s size 9 is a mere 13.2 ounces and a women’s size 7 is 11.2 ounces. Of course, kicks this light won’t provide maximum cushioning or support, but these New Balance models will satisfy players who are watching their weight.
800-343-1395 • newbalance.com
Nike Air Zoom Revive
What you should tell your customers: The Swoosh earns the award this season for the most innovative shoe. The Revive, which is all about durability (and, OK, fashion), features a removable outsole. Wear it out, take it off, and snap on the other outsole that comes with the Revive. It’s also an opportunity to give the shoe a different look as you get two different colored outsoles.
503-671-6453 • nike.com
Reebok Match Point
What you should tell your customers: If they’re into the pro game, they’ll be interested to know that Amelie Mauresmo trusts her feet to these shoes. Performance-wise, the Match Point emphasizes comfort, thanks to DMX Shear, a cushioning system that allows the heel to move independently of the forefoot. This, in turn, helps distribute the load and soften the pounding your feet take.
781-401-5000 • reebok.com
Prince M Series
What you should tell your customers: Prince is on the forefront of the specialization trend with its M Series. These shoes are made with a four-piece multilayered midsole that strategically positions thermoplastic tubes in the heel and forefoot. But three different models offer variances in the density and placement of the tubes to provide a unique ride. The MC4 is for cushioning, the MS4 for stability, and the MV4 for ventilation.
800-283-6647 • princetennis.com
What you should tell your customers: As its name suggests, the Tour is designed for serious players who demand a low-to-the-ground ride for stability on quick changes of direction and a fairly light weight to help get them to the ball faster.
773-714-6400 • wilsonsports.com
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