Slice Intelligence recently published a report about online sneaker sales over the past fifteen months, and the numbers are truly staggering: Nike holds a 95.7% share in total sales across their Jordan Brand, Kobe, LeBron lines as well as Nike branded lines such as Kevin Durant’s KD imprint. That is what you call dominance of the marketplace.

But it isn’t complete domination.


Under Armour’s online sneaker sales are pretty impressive compared to two iconic Nike brand ambassadors. (Graphic: Craig White)

The only other company to register in the data for that period is Under Armour, on the strength of their Curry One and Two lines that were released in the same data period, with 4.2% of the online sneaker sales.

In the overall big money view of the online sneaker market, 4.2% of the pie doesn’t look wholly impressive. I mean, four cents from a dollar doesn’t buy a whole lot and that is what that percentage at first glance says. 4.2% tells us Under Armour is still a small fish in an ocean of sharks. But the numbers are a little misleading.

Here are my first thoughts were on these numbers:

The 95.7% of the total online sneaker pie that Nike has is across all imprints.

The 72.4% Air Jordan number is not specific. We all know that Jordan Brand is about the retros, we can easily account for most of that number, with a spattering of any recent releases under the Air Jordan line. This number does not differentiate between the CP3 or Melo lines that are under the JB umbrella and could arguable be their own categories.

The 13.6% and 9.7% for Nike’s Kobe and LeBron lines respectively are impressive but we can assume the numbers are inflated somewhat by the many colorways and special editions that seem to be released almost daily. In Kobe’s case there is the added number of the recent retros that have been released.

If we’re talking Nike online sneaker sales numbers, I find it interesting that Durant’s line wasn’t included.

Outside of all these points, there is no arguing that Nike is the top dog, but we should really acknowledge that Under Armour is more than an also-ran.

Here is why:

If we’re strictly taking Nike numbers, UA doesn’t hold a candle. The same holds true for any Jordan Brand comparison. The deck is stacked against UA, but if we take a comparative look at UA relative to the LeBron and Kobe sales, Under Armour’s 4.2% looks a whole lot more impressive.

On the strength of two sneaker models and no real price change to any of the releases in that period, the Curry One and Two have sold an incredible amount! There have been two sets of models of Kobe and LeBron (regular release and Elite line) plus the many premium models to help boost sales numbers. If you include Kobe’s retros and Venomenon line and LBJ’s Soldier line they all help to boost total sales also. Curry’s sales numbers are really on the strength of two years of signature shoes without the benefit of reissues.

Think about that for a second – Stephen Curry’s Under Armour numbers are 42.3% the number that LeBron made or 30.2% of what Kobe earned. I think that’s impressive. Also to note, there was no mention of adidas at all in the initial data, making this even more impressive considering sneaker pedigree and the big name endorsers that in the three stripes’ stable.

Nike will still be the big dog and Under Armour has a long, long way to topple the Swoosh but if the upstart company from Maryland are able to look good relative individual lines within the Nike family of brands in market place percentage, I think that is promising for Under Armour.