Value footwear retailer Payless ShoeSource is launching a range of women's sports shoes with Nike subsidiary Exeter Brands.

The range, which will be called Tailwind, aims to fill the high-growth market niche for women's athletic shoes that combine contemporary fashion and technical performance.

The shoes will be sold exclusively at Payless stores and from next spring and will cost less than US$35 a pair.

"Payless' mission is to democratise fashion, design and innovation in footwear and accessories, and we are thrilled to partner with Exeter to create the Tailwind brand and bring this unique new line to consumers," said Matt Rubel, CEO of Payless.

"Through our collaborative work, this unique fashion-meets-performance collection celebrates expressive women who want the comfort and quality of a serious performance shoe combined with the fun of the latest fashion trends - all at a great value."

The multi-year agreement will see Exeter designing and producing the styles and Exeter and Payless jointly launching the brand.

Tailwind will launch with six women's styles featuring innovative cushioning gel and support technologies designed by Exeter designers in collaboration with the Nike Sports Research Lab.

By back-to-school season next year, the Tailwind branded line is expected to include girls' and accessory items as well.

"Today's announcement is terrific news and is a step forward for Nike Inc's strategy for Exeter to develop multiple brands that deliver innovative products to distinct consumer groups," said Lee Bird, president of Nike Inc subsidiaries, who leads new business development and long-term growth strategies for the company's Converse, Cole Haan, Hurley International, Nike Bauer Hockey Inc and Exeter Brands Group businesses.

Brandi Chastain, a key member of the 1999 USA World Cup-winning football team and 1996 US Olympic soccer team, will be among the athletes featured in the Tailwind campaign.