Mark Parker. Phil Knight. Herbert Hainer. Kevin Plank.
These are the biggest names in the performance footwear world, but according to Footwear News they are also some of the biggest names in the entire footwear industry. FN released their list of most important people in the footwear industry today and and sprinkled throughout the list of department store magnates and designers of the highest esteem are the executives of your favorite sneaker companies.
The ultra powerful duo of Nike president Phil Knight and CEO Mark Parker topped the list, after Nike's sales hit an all-time high at an astronomical $4.7 billion. Considering the list spans the entire footwear industry, it's a bit surprising to see a sneaker company top the rankings. To put things into perspective, notable names in the fashion world, like Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo, are both stuck looking up at Nike, signifying how important sneakers are to today's culture. Leading the charge for Nike this year was the innovative Flyknit technology and re-signing of Kevin Durant, which ultimately overshadowed the controversies surrounding embattled NFL stars Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice.
While Nike was pretty much expected to top all sports brands, the inclusion of smaller brands like Brooks Running, Asics America and Under Armour were reassuring for the performance industry. Nobody made more waves in the performance world this past year than Under Armour, who propelled themselves past adidas as the No. 2 sportswear label in the US. This seismic shift caused Under Armour's CEO Kevin Plank to rank in at 42 after stressing the Baltimore-based company's focus on women's and running categories.
The vendors of the performance industry, like Foot Locker and Finish Line, also made an impact the rankings. Only Nike's power duo landed higher than Foot Locker's Ken Hicks on the list, as the athletic store's CEO came in at No. 2. Cashing in on the basketball and running sneaker boom, Foot Locker's lofty placement amongst the rankings again shows just how big a part of our culture sneakers have become. After all, we are talking about a sneaker store beating out department store titans like Nordstrom and Macy's. With no end to the sneaker boom in sight, expect big things from Foot Locker in the next year as the store looks to open more doors in Europe and bolster its women's initiatives.
Check out the full Power 100 list here