Skip to navigationSkip to content

The top-selling sneaker of 2017 is one your mom probably loves

A woman walks inside the temporary Nike store in Shoreditch, East London April 30, 2009. Tucked away on a side street in the shell of an old railway arch and only open from Thursday to Sunday -- not what you would expect from a London store of one of the world's biggest brands. But that's how sporting goods giant Nike set up a temporary home last summer, and the secretive format, selling high-end ranges and occasional exclusives, has proved such a hit with those in-the-know that it is staying around for good. To match feature RETAIL-POPUPSHOPS REUTERS/Stephen Hird (BRITAIN BUSINESS) - GM1E5510PZ901
Reuters/Stephen Hird
She’s probably looking for the Tanjuns.
By Marc Bain
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of the Nike Tanjun. It isn’t among Nike’s more famed shoes, like an Air Max or an Air Jordan. It’s a simple, inexpensive style for men and women that costs about $65 and sells at outlets like Kohls and Shoe Carnival. Sneaker-obsessed kids aren’t waiting in lines for the latest Tanjun drop.

Yet according to research firm NPD Group, it was the top-selling shoe of 2017 in the US, the world’s biggest and most valuable sportswear market.

The sneaker, which GQ described in September as “a shoe only a mother could love” after a streak of strong sales, is above all comfortable and easy—making it very attractive to a lot of American moms. They comprise a quiet but powerful demographic, along with the legions of other American women and men buying uncomplicated footwear to mow the lawn or shop for groceries in. The name Tanjun comes from the Japanese word for “simplicity,” and Nike says it offers “an elevated everyday look.”

NPD’s list ranked the shoes in order of dollars sold, not units. Even against much higher-priced competition, such as Air Jordan IVs, which can cost nearly $200 for certain models, the Tanjun took the top spot. Matt Powell, NPD’s vice president and sports industry analyst, noted that typically the top shoe of the year is one of those pricier styles.

Adidas, meanwhile, reached another milestone in 2017. While Nike, which also owns Jordan brand and Converse, dominated the list, Powell pointed out that it was the first time in memory Adidas had two shoes in the top 10—showing its continued strength against long-time market leader Nike. Adidas’ retro Superstar sneaker couldn’t quite repeat last year’s achievement of coming in at number one—the first time an Adidas shoe had done so in more than a decade—but it was again a strong seller, along with a newer Adidas model, the Tubular Shadow. Overall, the sneakers that Americans bought show the ongoing domination of lifestyle shoes meant for casual wear, at the expense of performance sneakers designed primarily for athletic use.

Here are NPD’s top 10 sneakers of 2017 in the US, based on dollar sales:

1. Nike Tanjun

2. Chuck Taylor All-Star low


3. Nike Air Huarache


4. Adidas Superstar

5. Nike Revolution 3

6. Jordan IV


7. Jordan XIII


8. Adidas Tubular Shadow

9. Jordan XI


10. Jordan VI


📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.