Love ’em or hate ’em, you can’t deny the versatility of a good pair of sneakers. Make no mistake: We’re not talking about your dad’s old white New Balance runners. We mean sick kicks that can be dressed up for work and down for an easy night out. And we’re not the only fans. Global information company NPD Group reports that athletic footwear sales increased 1 percent from January to August 2013, compared to the year-ago period. And whereas men’s running footwear was once the big growth category, fashion categories drove this increase: Casual athletics was up 6 percent with 26 percent share, and basketball footwear was up 12 percent with 11 percent share.
“Contrary to the women’s trend in activewear, young men have found the desire to dress up by wearing a suit with athletic shoes. This look is also becoming popular among the middle-aged male market seeking that active look,” states Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst. “So in athletic footwear, consumers are keeping with the multiple uses trend and buying footwear to match their activewear as well as their dinner outfit.”