People Wore More Brands
What with the whole price-tag-as-status, lots of niche brands were able to wet their beaks. British Knights got their shoes on Derrick Coleman, Avia made simultaneous inroads into aerobics and basketball, even L.A. Gear had its adherents. Obviously Airwalk was big in the skate world (what's up, Tony Hawk?), and Patrick Ewing proved that not only could big men sell shoes, but they could start brands. And companies like ASICS weren't just selling to dare-to-be-different kids and serious runners. Even Euro-centric companies like Diadora and Ellesse made their presence known. The same companies that are dominant today were dominant then, there was just more room for the smaller brands to operate.