Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sportwear Apparel:You are your shoes

Since the beginning of the Modern Olympics in Athens (1896), the uniforms of the athletes have been important. They were first used to discipline the events but then, as these became more popular through media interest, eventually they set a sartorial style for others to follow. Sociologists confirm consumption and display of what we wear confirms our identity and status in society. Sports shoes have become in the latter part of the 20th century the outward symbols of what we would like to be. To the 21st Century citizens athletic shoes evoke a fascination with power and style similar to previous generation’s preoccupation with cars. One phenomenon noted after the Olympics, is women take up popular team sports especially where national pride has been raised with medals. In 1994, sales for woman's athletic shoes surpassed men's. Growth in women's sport in the US is thought to have been come from 1972 Legislation Title IX . The mandated legislation ensured publicly funded programs offered equal opportunities to men and women, ensuring all athletes were given access to comparable athletic experiences. The IX helped nurture the pool of talented female athletes. Anxious to meet the new demand shoe companies responded with new lines of footwear for women. Today the clothing industry which surrounds sport is very profitable and fiercely competitive with Nike and Adidas-Salomon brand leaders with Reebok , Puma , Asics, Fila , and New Balance all close behind. Their presence will be made at the Beijing Olympiad in 2008. In 2002, Nike held a 34.1 per cent share of the international market, more than double second-place Adidas-Salomon, at 16.5 percent. Yet it is the latter that are licensed to supply more athletes at these years' games. Sports shoes remain the single most important product category for the profitability of athletic shoe and apparel brands. For marketing purposes many companies pay the elite ahtletes to endorse their products. This does not always assure all who wear the shoes will win the glittering prizes, although there is a degree of wishful thinking. Modern marketing strategies prefer to have a product associated with success. Sponsored athletes are usually allowed to train in their favourite brands but must compete in sponsored shoes. This does raise the spectre do specific shoes make the difference. Whilst there is no question competition times have dropped since 1896 e.g. in the 1930s Jesse Owen took 10.2 seconds to cover 100 meters and Asafa Powell , who holds the world record of 9.74 seconds. It is unlikely footwear has made any significant difference or contributed to record breaking times. No shoe can help an athlete perform better than their potential.

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