While it may seem obvious, especially to those in the sneaker industry, it’s important to point out that in the youth culture markets of 13-25-year-olds especially in North America, that the top “footwear” choices are generally sneaker brands, and many are skateboarding-inspired brands. However as we’ve noted in our 2008 North American Youth Culture Study, there’s a change in top footwear and sneaker brands including footwear and clothing brands moving into the sneaker marketplace, the revival of retro brands as new favorites, and the increase in authentic workwear and heritage brands as credible “sneaker” crossover brands. This is why sneaker culture and its various complex subcultures and influences from sports, fashion, and music are so important to understand when it comes to youth culture.

Sneaker culture is also influencing fashion to such an extent that LTD’s or limited-edition styles (plugged often on top blogs), can be the fashion statement or completion to someone’s sense of style or outfit. This can be seen in the Fashion section as some top sneaker brands are often named by consumers as their favorite “brands” overall. This emphasizes the importance of sneaker culture and subcultures in general, and why it’s important to stay on top of such trends. While some sneaker blog sites have disappeared, there’s always another in the wings to take over where the last one dropped off. This re-occurring and fast-paced blogging culture in sneakers is an interesting aspect to the subculture footwear in general. It also feeds the frenzy for collectors and getting LTD’s in general.

While some people may think this has faded in the last year because of the recession, footwear is one category that has remained steadier than most, as witnessed also at the recent fashion trade shows and the large selections of footwear brands on hand at MAGIC, S.L.A.T.E., ASR, and Project.

This chart represents some fresh data being released in our North American Youth Culture Study Fall 2009 this week (free for Premium subscribers for 2009). Based on a representative sample of 13-25-year-olds across North America, when asked, “What is your favorite brand of footwear?” Overall, there has been a shift in favorite footwear brands in the last 6 months, mainly with Vans #1 at 29.8% followed now by Converse at 27.1%. This then drops to Nike at 13.4%, and drops again significantly to Adidas at 4.5%. Other top brands include DC at 3.1%, Adio at 2.9%, Circa at 2.7%, and Airwalk at 2%.

Some of the biggest changes in the last few years are how Nike has dropped and relatively smaller brands have moved up including Adio. In addition, retro brands such as Airwalk are back on the radar within the top 10 in terms of preferred footwear indicating the changing dynamics and opportunities that still do exist in this competitive marketplace.

Label Networks%uFFFDs Topline Chart from the North American Youth Culture Study Fall 2009