In the summer of 1984, Michael Jordan’s agent, David Falk, met with Nike executive Rob Strasser. Falk wanted a signature shoe called the Michael Jordan. Strasser said it needed a better name. “In the middle of this meeting, I had this brainstorm,” Falk recalls. “Nike had just started coming out with running shoes that had this new Air technology. And because of the way Michael played …” Like no product before or since, the Air Jordan reshaped the footwear industry. Basketball shoes became everyday wear; Nike, the runaway market leader. Thirty years later—with Jordan’s last NBA game more than a decade behind him—his sneakers still dominate. In 2013 brand Jordan, which Nike made its own business unit in 1997, sold $2.25 billion worth of shoes in the U.S., according to data from SportsOneSource. Michael’s closest competitor, LeBron James, sold $300 million. Here, according to data from Campless, are the 25 top selling Air Jordans of the past year on the secondary market.
Adidas’ Superstar sneaker couldn’t be more aptly named right now. According to research firm NPD Group, the simple, shell-toed retro style was the best seller by dollar sales last year in the US, the world’s largest sneaker market.
The sneaker even unseated the reigning king of the US sneaker market, Nike. “This is the first time a Nike product has not been on top in more than a decade,” says NPD sports industry analyst Matt Powell.
The US is currently in the midst of a major retro trend that helped sales of a few different styles on NPD’s list, including Nike’s Jordan XII, which debuted during Michael Jordan’s incredible 1996-1997 season. Adidas was also the top brand overall in 2016. Adidas’s broader success and the retro surge combined to push the Superstar to the top—even though its standard style retails for $80, while the second-place Jordan XII costs $170, meaning Adidas sold a massive number of Superstars to win the title.
Nike remains a powerful brand however, and by far the bigger player in the US sneaker market. Every sneaker besides the Superstar in the top 10 was from Nike or a Nike subsidiary, specifically Jordan Brand or Converse.
Still, Powell says the fact that a non-Nike sneaker came in at number one is “a testament to Nike’s struggles in its US wholesale business.” Nike insists its sales are shifting toward direct-to-consumer sales through its own retail channels and e-commerce. But it is clearly losing some ground to Adidas on its home turf, in part because it failed to anticipate a consumer shift away from performance basketball sneakers—one of its key categories—and toward retro fashion sneakers, contributing to that slowdown in wholesale.
Here are NPD’s top 10 sneakers of 2016 in the US, based on dollar sales: