School Shoes brands: Slap or Wack?

Grips reveals the US school shoes brands that are gaining and losing market share ahead of back-to-school season
John Fetto
3 min read
24 July 2023


As July comes to a close, parents (some excitedly) will pivot from summer vacation to back-to-school mode and begin the hunt for school supplies, backpacks and apparel. As many parents can attest, myself included, back-to-school clothes and shoes shopping can expose rifts between what one generation thinks is slap and another thinks is wack. 

To help parents of school-age kids avoid being on the receiving end of an eye roll, I’ve compiled this blog where I’ll identify the shoe brands that are winning market share (slap) versus those that are losing share (wack). All data is based on e-commerce sales in the United States, according to Grips, and excludes luxury and fashion brands.

Top US shoe brands

Before we get to the good stuff, let’s take a brief look at the top selling shoe brands in the United States based on Q2 2023 sales. Leading the way by a long shot is Nike which has a market share more than six times greater than runner-up Adidas. Vans, Sketchers and Birkenstock round out the top five with nearly equivalent market share. Your kid may think these brands are basic given their broad appeal, but they won’t be the only ones sporting them in the schoolyard.

top us e-commerce shoe brands

These brands are slap!

To determine which brands are slap, I compared the e-commerce market share of the top 50 shoe brands at the end of the school year (Q2 2023) versus the beginning of the school year (August/September 2022). And according to the Grips data, Ugg and Reef both increased their market shares by a relative 50 percent making them the top brands on our slap list. While it can be argued that both brands are highly seasonal, each also offers year-round designs making them an increasingly popular option for back-to-school. 

Similarly, Sorel, a brand perhaps better known for its winter wear, is gaining market share during warmer months. Levi’s, which ranked 40th on the list overall, also expanded market share by a quarter. This is likely at the expense of brands like Vans and Converse which saw share decline during the 2022/2023 school year. (More on that below.)

Finally, Ariat, a brand known for its association with the equestrian community also has a casual line with styles sporting artistic designs and pops of color. With a broadening appeal, Ariat expanded market share by a relative 24 percent year-over-year. While the brand is largely sold direct-to-consumer online via their website,, many American consumers find them on,, and, according to Grips. 

slap school shoes brands

Do you dare take a chance on being the “cool” parent by suggesting one of these increasingly popular brands this back-to-school season? Or is it better to risk being seen as irrelevant by suggesting your kid check out one of the brands on our wack list?

These brands are wack!

Our wack list, determined using the same criteria as the slap list, reveals that Under Armour’s e-commerce shoe market share declined by a third during the 2022/2023 school year making it the most wack brand on our list. Brands that Zennial parents (and possibly grandparents) wore as kids, including Converse, Vans and Puma, also saw declines with each losing roughly a quarter of their respective market share since the school year began last fall. Specialty outdoor brand Merrell could also fall into this category.  

And finally, everyone’s favorite brand to hate on, Crocs, has seen market share erode by roughly 20 percent during the last school year. According to Grips, and are top retailers for Crocs in the United States with each accounting for roughly a quarter of Croc’s online sales. Buyers for either of these companies may need reduce their Crocs order, if it’s not too late.   

wack school shoes brands

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