In the headlines of the Sports Business Journal (SBJ) yesterday was this piece about how sluggish the U.S. athletic footwear industry is right now:

Sports Business Journal

Nike bucks trend of ‘uninspired’ U.S. market

Here’s a quote from the article:

Nike still captures the high ground as far as authenticity and brand integrity,” said Claude Johnson, a former NBA and Nike executive who now heads Black Fives, a sports licensing company that has a license with Converse. “They still have the best group of athletes, and do a great job of updating the old reliables, like [Air] Jordan. Converse is also doing well for them right now, and that price/fashion combination is exactly where a lot of the market is today.”

Apparently, athletic shoe stores aren’t doing very well with high-priced sports specific performance shoes.

Customers are ignoring shoes that cost more than $100. As SBJ staff writer Terry Lefton puts it, the 3 hottest brands in shops right now are “Nike, Under Armour and 50 percent off.”

What people are buying instead of performance athletic shoes are sports inspired shoes. Sports inspired means you don’t actually wear them to play. In industry-talk, they’re also known as lifestyle athletic.

In other words, retro sneakers.

In basketball, this ends up being a very good trend for Nike and Converse.

And for Black Fives.

Here are 5 of my favorite Black Fives retros that I’m wearing these days, all of which $100 or less:

AF-III

Alpha Physical Culture Club Air Force III by Nike ($75)

Laced Up

Black Fives “Laced Up” All Stars by Converse ($72)

Air Assault

Independent Pleasure Club Air Assault by Nike ($90)

Original Laser-Detailed All Star

Black Fives “Original” Laser-Detailed Leather All Stars by Converse ($100)

Rens Double Upper Oxford All Stars

New York Rens “Double Upper” Oxford All Star by Converse ($52)

I admit these are biased towards lighter colors, since, well, it’s Spring!

My favorite? Can’t decide. But today I’m wearing my AF-III’s.

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