ADIDAS SHOPS AROUND: Like its arch rival Nike, which announced plans to purchase Converse last week, Adidas-Salomon AG is also in the market for a few new labels. That’s what Adidas chairman Herbert Hainer said earlier this week, but declined to elaborate. But industry sources were hard-pressed to come up with any brands that would be a good fit for Adidas.

Old-school names like Converse are hard to come by, and that’s the area where Adidas needs some presence, insiders said. Adidas declined to comment.

FREE AIR TIME: Meanwhile, Converse got a major plug Wednesday morning from National Public Radio commentator Frank Deford, who touted the brand’s “comeback” and his fondness for its Chuck Taylor canvas high-tops.

A NPR spokeswoman said there were no reservations about the segment’s commercial slant. “It’s like reporting on different products, books or authors,” she said.

The fact that Nike, a publicly traded company, acquired Converse last week — something Deford mentioned — makes it “news,” the spokeswoman said. His commentary was more “historical,” she added.

“He talks about his experience and what he likes about them,” she said.

For its part, NPR’s Web site summed up the commentary this way: “Deford waxes poetic about the rise and fall and rise again of that great American sneaker: the Converse Chuck Taylor canvas high-top.”

ARTISTIC TEES: T-shirts aren’t typical take-away items from art galleries, but Daniel Silverstein is trying to change that with “150 Artists Make 150 T-shirts.” This new exhibition at his Chelsea gallery bows today at 520 West 21st Street in New York and runs through Aug. 18.

Designers United Bamboo, Surface to Air and Premium Goods, as well as artists Andrew Guenther, Steven Lafreniere and Tracy Nakayama, are among the participants. The T-shirts address an array of subjects, including sex and politics. Shirts sell between $7.89 and $400.

Silverstein said he wanted to do the show as a reaction against homogenization and the lack of conviction in the visual artist culture.

“You can do things and say things with a T-shirt that you can’t say in art,” he explained. “I did it as sort of a counterculture movement.”Silverstein said he has never had so many inexpensive items in his eight-year-old gallery.

“I’ll have to sell 80 pieces to make a week’s worth of expenses,” he said. “But the content is very good.”

THE WILLIAMS ACT: Venus and Serena Williams are gearing up for a three-city tour this fall to promote their various sponsors and to talk shop with the media. Venus Williams plans to talk up her new interior decorating business and her sister is reportedly at work at an apparel collection that has not yet been named.

Meanwhile, reports are that Serena Williams, the most widely recognized woman in sports today, may be staying with her sponsor Puma. Nike “has been waving big dollars and has been for a long time,” said one insider. Puma declined to comment.

The deal should be wrapped up any day, he added. Another source close to the deal said Wednesday, “More likely than not she will stay with Puma.”

But industry observers are not convinced. One insider noted Puma chairman and chief executive officer Jochen Zeitz has said he will not get into a bidding war over the young star.

JANTZEN DIVES IN: Jantzen, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Perry Ellis International, will launch Diving Girl, a collection aimed at women in their 20s, next year. The name plays off Jantzen’s logo, which was introduced in 1920.

Halter tops, miniskirts, a halter dress and hipster trunks are among the offerings. Brian Murphy, director of marketing, said, “In creating the Diving Girl collection, we pored through the Jantzen archives to select the most fashionable and compelling designs from our 93 years in business.”

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS: Alan Cohen, president and chief executive officer of The Finish Line, will ring the bell at the NASDAQ Stock Market Friday. The 497-unit chain has been traded on NASDAQ since 1992.

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