The Jordan Brand Is Showing Signs of a Comeback — Can the Momentum Stick?

It’s a hotly debated question across the athletic industry: What is the future of the Jordan brand?

While it’s been a challenging year for the Nike-owned label, there are signs it is getting back on track. After Nike reported impressive second-quarter earnings on Thursday, chairman, president and CEO Mark Parker detailed the brand’s positive steps in a conference call with investors.

Still, Jordan — which last month appointed Coca-Cola Co. exec Craig Williams its new president — must overcome notable hurdles to return to long-term success and compete effectively with brands such as Adidas.

“They’ve put far too much product in the marketplace, and liquidations have slowed, the resale market has collapsed, and they need to get back to having that scarcity cachet,” Matt Powell, The NPD Group Inc.’s senior sports industry adviser, said in a recent interview with FN.

Yesterday, Parker said the brand’s revitalization efforts are clearly working. Here are five reasons he cited as the key drivers.

1. Bold Launches Are Paying Off: The Air Jordan 11 “Concord” debut this month marked Nike’s most successful shoe introduction ever, according to Parker. “It was a well-orchestrated plan … with total integration across our business with partners like House of Hoops and Footaction — and locally driven storytelling in our key cities.”

2. There’s Strength Across Categories and Geographic Markets: “The great story in Jordan is that we’re managing the business more holistically between performance, product and retro. It’s a clean market, a healthy market, particularly in North America,” Parker noted. Internationally, the brand posted double-digit increases.

3. Shoe Standouts Are Ringing Up Strong Sales: Performance footwear standouts include the Air Jordan 33 game shoe and the $120 Max Aura. Meanwhile, the Air Jordan 1 is “more coveted than ever,” according to Parker.

4. Apparel Results Are Also Robust: Jordan introduced its first-ever collaboration with a soccer club, Paris Saint-German, in September — revealing special match kits for both shoes and apparel. “Sell-through of the Jordan and PSG collaboration exceeded expectations,” Parker said. That success further demonstrates the global demand for the Jordan brand.

5. The Women’s Business is Ramping Up: With Nike’s overall women’s sales up 20 percent year over year for the period ended Nov. 30, Jordan is seeing big opportunity with female consumers. “We have more potential as we diversify the portfolio of product,” Parker said.