Shoe Outlook 2017: Stepping Forward
Whether sales will be up or down this year, shoe technology and styling continue to move ahead.
By Kent Oswald
As 2017 gets underway, the tennis shoe business seems to be stepping gingerly. For the past five years there have been small, steady increases to the current $175 million-plus tennis shoe market, according to Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) estimates.
Compared to other tennis spending, which has been turbulent over the last few years, the tennis shoe market has been a particularly positive area.
Still, shoe sales through the third quarter of 2016 showed a 4 to 5 percent year-over-year decline in both units and dollars sold. (Year-end figures were not available at press time.) As with other parts of the economy, there are reasons supporting those who believe this will be a year of breakouts and those who fear 12 months of shakeouts.
In either case, as 2017 begins, the future of sales is unclear, but we are certain to see shelves featuring footwear that continues to improve both in terms of technology and styling.
While adding colorways throughout all its lines — including the Gel Speed Solution 3, named Editor’s Choice for “Best Lightweight Shoe” in Tennis Magazine last year — Asics is emphasizing three particular lines in 2017. The lightweight, comfortable Gel-Court FF for men and women (suggested retail $170) offers improved stability, airflow and durability. The Gel-Resolution ($140) features improved comfort, maximum stability and superior durability, and also offers a clay-court sole option. And the Gel-Challenger ($100) is a popular-priced choice that blends comfort and stability for recreational players.
Team Babolat ambassador Benoit Paire is the face of the company’s re-introduction of its men’s and women’s Propulse Fury (suggested retail $130). The shoe is designed to provide exceptional support for all-court players needing the security of footing as they quickly change direction. The company has also further slimmed down the shoe that Tennis Magazine’s editors named Best New Line in 2016, the men’s and women’s Jet ($150), and added new colorways.
Continuing its tradition of balancing performance with style, Fila hatweaked the Cage Delirium for men and women (suggested retail $100), the same shoe Karolina Pliskova strutted during her run to last year’s US Open final. In addition to new colorways this year, the company has added features for additional support and interior comfort.
The Hypercourt 2.0 for men and women (suggested retail $120) offers improved fit and stability, while the men’s and women’s Hypercourt Express ($105) is for players across the spectrum. The men’s Knitshot ($140) has abrasion resistance on the outsole as well midsole technology for flexibility and stability. The new men’s and women’s Bigshot Light 3 ($85) and Bigshot Light Varsity for juniors ($55) are lightweight, aggressively priced and available in three colorways.
The shoe heavyweight begins the year by adding two lightweight models to its expansive and aggressively updated tennis footwear line. The Nike Court Air Zoom Ultra React (suggested retail $160) offers control and responsiveness while also being one of the company’s lightest shoes ever designed. The Nike Court Zoom Vapor 9.5 Flyknit for men ($180) is a lightweight, cushioned, breathable shoe that wraps around the foot for maximum stability.
Extending adaptations of the vibration-reducing technology recently introduced into its racquets, Wilson debuts Amplifeel shoes for men and women (suggested retail $159). The footwear line will be an integral element of a 360-degree marketing campaign with digital and social media outreach as well as in-performance promotional activities, all built around a focus on technology to help players train harder and play longer.
Behind a multi-platform promotional campaign featuring the slogan, “Tennis has a new rivalry: Speed vs. Power”, Head enters the new year with additional colorways for its featured Revolt Pro 2.0 shoes for men and women (suggested retail $139.99) and Nitro Pro shoes for men, women ($139.99) and juniors ($79.95). The Revolt Pro 2.0 features technology highlighting power, stability, cushioning and durability; the Nitro Pro is lightweight, stylishly low to the ground and offers greater breathability.
A key aspect of Milos Raonic’s ensemble, the 996v3 for men and women (suggested retail $129.95) launches with a synthetic, knit upper. New Balance is also likely to receive positive attention for the shoe’s technology that provides extra support for quick transitions and multi-directional movement.
Aggressively priced and designed, the T22 Lite for men and women (suggested retail $99) remains at the forefront of Prince’s footwear offerings. The company says it plans to update colors and styling for the lightweight, durable shoe throughout the year.
Stan Wawrinka stars in a print, video and social media campaign for the newly launched Eclipsion line for men, women (suggested retail $140) and juniors ($70), featuring an all-court and clay-court sole for men and all-court sole for women. In addition, the company is adding new colorways and technical tweaks to the lightweight-themed Aerus Dash for men, women and juniors ($140, $70) and comfortable Fusion Rev 2 shoes for men and women ($130).
See all articles by Kent Oswald
About the Author
Kent Oswald is a contributor to TennisNow.com, producer at the JockBookReview.com and a former editor of Tennis Week magazine.
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