With Athletic Apparel and Footwear in Disarray, Puma Pounces With Push For Women 


Demand for casual clothes, streetwear and athletic footwear may still be the hottest corner of the apparel universe but the sector’s top players are all struggling to find traction in a slippery and changing marketplace.

Plagued by a mix of supply chain issues, rising costs, reduced consumer buying power and ongoing COVID-related problems in China, as well as emerging threats from second-hand players, the market for sneakers, sweats, leggings and T-shirts is facing a level of share-grabbing competition and jockeying not seen in decades.

With shares of Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and Lululemon all down 30% to 50% in the past six months, the opportunity for old brands to connect with new customers in new ways is immense.


Players like Puma, for example, are looking to pounce by introducing new faces and athletes via its “She Moves Us” campaign which paired the buzz surrounding the inaugural F1 race in Miami with British race car driver Naomi Schiff.

Reebok is another. After Authentic Brands Group completed its $2.5 billion acquisition of the iconic 80s brand from Adidas in March, it was reported that the label would be taking on other trendy new topics to add to its stable, including the addition of NFTs and crypto payments, after rolling out numerous new lines and looks over the past year, including its partnership with singer Cardi B.

The Race is On

At the top of this struggle stands industry leader Nike, whose stock is down 30% in six months, as the Oregon-based shoe, apparel and equipment maker struggles with supply chain challenges as it also undergoes a major strategic shift to increase its direct-to-consumer sales and limit the number of wholesale accounts it services.

That retail shift has already seen Nike deepen its ties with Dick’s Sporting Goods, while reducing them with outlets like Kohl’s and Foot Locker, the latter of which announced a new enhanced strategic partnership with Adidas last week.

“This close partnership will enable us to bring consumers even more unique, pinnacle products from iconic brands, as well as accelerate our push into apparel, adding a new dimension to our assortment and bringing more customers into our ecosystem,” Foot Locker CEO Richard Johnson said in a joint statement, in which Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted touted the collaboration as a chance for consumers to experience more new products and innovations at the mall-based chain of 2,900 stores than before.

Adding to the fight are efforts like Lululemon to expand growing apparel and footwear business into more sports and countries, as the retailer best known for yoga and workout clothes recently announced plans to move into golf, tennis, sneakers and foreign markets.

“It’s important to note that we remain in the early days of our growth trajectory outside of North America,” Lululemon CFO Meghan Frank told investors on the company’s earnings call in March, noting that beyond the two new categories, the company’s global growth ambitions were also accelerating.

Frank said that while the company’s international revenue grew by more than 50% last year, it still represented just 15% of Lululemon’s overall business.