Rating the Brands for 2020

A Truly Bizarre Year

The Boot Industry had its work cut out for it this year. It did ok but a lot of the problems that have followed the industry for years now were only accentuated by the craziness that was 2020. Overstocking, flooding the market with releases, limited releases for days and a general lack of understand with what some consumers want continued to cause issues for the market as a whole. Somehow, brands managed to succeed but to varying degrees.

Adidas

Adidas got everyone’s attention at the start of the year with the release of a “proper” Predator with the launch of the Mutator. With the rubber elements being back as was a lot cut model, the Three Stripes fulfilled a lot of people’s dreams and shook the market up. Adidas now has something that is unique and different to the rest of the market as a whole. No-one else is currently offering what adidas offers with the current Predator series. Then we come to the X Ghosted, which has revolutionized the use of carbon fibre in football boots through the Carbitex Sprintframe tooling. Add these to the gorgeous Japan Blue Manie remake and the mad but interesting F50 Memory Lane Pack, as well as the lovely recently-released Enternal Class pack, which finally gave us an Absolute remake, you can see that adidas absolutely smashed it this year. Docked points for taking money from the German government when surely smaller companies needed it more, releasing 18 (including 8 limited drops/remakes!) colourwyas in one year and for their handling of the X launch.

Grade: B

Nike

The Swoosh didn’t quite have the same impactful year as adi, but did manage to remain the market’s top dog thanks to boot silos like the ever-popular Mercurial series. But the Swoosh also lost a lot of ground this year. They failed to appropriate reply to adi’s challenge with the Predator and they seemed almost give up on remakes, instead going for colourway updates. They released the Phantom GT that, while initially praised and popular with pros, had fallen off a cliff because of fit and sizing issues. That’s not even getting into how much a disaster the launch was behind the scenes. Lastly, I’ll keep bringing it up until I’m blue in the face, they fired employees during a pandemic while their stock was at an all-time high. Pathetic.

Grade: F

Puma

The Big Cat has been up and down over the past few years. The constant chopping and changing of models spoke of a brand that didn’t have confidence in its own releases. All of this became a moot point with the signing of Neymar. Overnight, the brand immediately raised their profile by a hell of a lot and the sales of the King Platinum skyrocketed. An expensive but astute signing means they have almost caught up with Nike and adidas quite quickly. Then we add in the successful launch of the Ultra, which created a new “people’s speedboot” and the somewhat successful Future Z and its obvious that Puma have created a solid base for them to build on. Its up to Puma to trust their boots and become more consistent.

Grade: B

Mizuno

The Runbird had a massive year that coincided with the 35th Anniversary of the brand’s much beloved Morelia series. The year started off with a band through the launch of the updated Morelia II Japan, that while isn’t as significant overseas, had a massive impact inside of Japan. They followed this up with the greatly successful launch of the Morelia Neo 3 Japan and the Morelia Neo 3 Beta Japan. The latter of which had a significant impact in the minds of a lot of consumers and become one of the “must-try” boots of the year. On top of this, we also got a remake of the first Morelia with the release of the Morelia Zero as well as another Wave Cup that came in a gorgeous blue colourway. We also can’t forget the Rebula Cup, which presented a new direction for the Rebula series and a higher performance boot than many were expecting. An incredible year.

Grade: A

ASICS

Photo Credit: Kemari87/Kishispo

ASICS mostly kept a holding pattern this year. The brand most makes almost all of its football boot sells domestically and as a consequence of this, the brand made very few waves internationally. Inside of Japan, the DS Light got an update that proved widly popular. It is hard to explain how extremely popular the regular DS Light series is in Japan. To a lesser extent, the release of the DS Light AG model also had somewhat of an impact. These weren’t “wow” releases, but they are releases that means they will be able to do something interesting in the next year, with the three of their models due for updates.

Grade: B-

Umbro

The Double Diamond had an interesting year. Inside of Japan, there were some colour updates for the Accerator series but no new models. This isn’t the case with Umbro Int’l, which launch the Velocita V and the Tocco. The Velocite seems decent, as does the Tocco, but both boots are somewhat weird and not as impactful as Umbro would’ve wanted. The brand still has a ton of potential and it feels like like one good release will put them on the map in a big way.

Grade: C+

Adler

The little brand that could. Adler had a couple of releases but nothing major. The biggest focus for a brand like this is ensuring that sales remain steady during times of stress. The brand succeed and seems to currently steadying itself so that it can slowly build more and more momentum. There’s rumours that the brand might begin trying to sell internationally, but nothing substantial has been confirmed. There’s never going to much in the way of new releases, but that’s not the point of the brand.

Grade: B+

Ryal

The same could be said for Ryal. Not really anything new was released from the brand, aside from the great Artisan 2.0, but again, this isn’t a brand that is there for crazy colours and releases. Good, solid Italian craftsmanship is the name of the game and Ryal is currently one of the best at it.

Grade: B+

Pantofola D’Oro

One of the more well-known craft Italian brands, Panto has spent most of the past year or so righting the ship after drifting away from their roots. This has been largely successful with the numbers of models cut and the brand having some intriguing releases with the launches of the Superstar 2000 and the Starlight. There’s still work for the brand to do, but it feels like the next year will be an interesting one. Get a pass on the time difference between announcing new models and the actual launch because of the pandemic.

Grade: B

Diadora

Photo Credit: SoccerBible

Diadora had one big launch this year, the B-Elite Tech, which is somewhat their take on a Morelia Neo. It seems quite nice but its never a good sign when they get marked down relatively quickly. Still, the fact that they are sticking to their guns and offering a made in Italy version should be applauded. We also need to mention the launch of the “Gold Capsule” collection which sold out immediately. A lot of feed that I got from people who bought the boots is that they still have a soft spot for classic Diadora’s. The brand could probably do with getting Totti on its books as an ambassador and releasing some classic Totti models. After all, Totti won the World Cup wearing the Diadora Maximus.

Grade: C+

Concave

They existed and continue to do so, I guess. The fact that they are still around after a tumultuous year in market should probably be celebrated given how many times they’ve almost disappeared. Still, not many people want to pay full price for their boots, and they seem to be standing still.

Grade: D

Yasuda

The Japanese brand doesn’t release many boots, so the launch of the Innovator series was a plus for them. They also expanded their product line to include lower price points and turf models. Their apparel line also massively expanded, and they now are kit suppliers for some Japanese Football League (below the J-League’s J3) clubs. The brand also have begun to be stocked by more retailers both online and instore. The new boots have had positive feedback so far as well. A very good year for the brand, especially since its hard to expand at the best of times.

Grade: B+

Kingdom Football

They launched new boots, made a bit of a space for themselves and the boots are quite decent as well. Expecting more to come from them.

Grade: B-

What was your brand of the year? Make sure to share this with your friends and to follow me on Instagram and Facebook!

じゃあね!

aglockhart

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