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Nike Races To Join Low-Profile Sneaker Pact

Nike finds itself playing catch up to more fashion-conscious brands since European shoppers and U.S. skate-boarders started buying low-profile sneakers that top out at the ankle rather than mid-calf. Sales of such shoes grew 4.4% to $4.7 billion in 2006, surpassing sales of basketball shoes and second only to running shoes, according to figures compiled by NPD Group.

The trend is taking place at the same time the general fashion silhouette is changing -- from an oversized look with chunky shoes--especially for boys and men--to a slimmer profile.

Nike's low-profile Metro shoe is doing "very well" in Europe, and it will launch an "innovative" collection of low-profile, high-performance Zoom Air footwear for the back-to-school season, says Nike spokesman Derek Kent. Competitors Adidas AG and Puma AG embraced the trend earlier than Nike. As a result, Nike's largest mall-based retail partners--Foot Locker and Finish Line--are also lagging.



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