Photo: Nike, Inc.
When news broke that Nike’s Lebron X with Nike+ will retail at $315 (the ones without Nike+ will cost $180), a small but vocal group of people got angry.Nike is being greedy, they argued, jacking up prices of sneakers in the midst of economic turmoil and marketing them to teenagers who can’t afford them.
But here’s the big question: Why is the outrage coming now? There have always been expensive fashion and apparel items, regardless of the economic climate, so why are people drawing the line at the Lebron X’s?
As we said yesterday, the price hike makes total sense from a business perspective. Sales of high-priced ($100+) sneakers are up 30% this year, according to Matt Powell of SportsOneSports. In addition, Nike’s basketball and North American footwear edition both saw double-digit revenue increases year-over-year form 2011 to 2012.
They also have Nike+! They tell you how high you jump and how fast you run!
So it has nothing to do with business.
At the end of the day, the outrage is an extension of popular assumptions about what qualifies as “luxury.” People are looking at the LeBron X’s like a mass-consumption product — something that ought to be inexpensive because it is, in some small way, a necessity.
It’s not like people have a problems with expensive shoes.
The men’s section of Nordstrom’s website alone has 196 different shoes for sale that are priced above $500, and no one makes a peep about that. Even more tellingly, no one batted an eyelash at the $250 sticker price for the special edition “Elite Taxi” version of the LeBron 9’s — because limited edition sneakers like these are considered collector’s items, rather than traditional sneakers with the utilitarian purpose of protecting your feet.
The LeBron X’s are a luxury item. They’re a Jay-Z-ified version of a shoe, right down to the Watch The Throne-inspired crinkled gold on the Nike swoosh. So if you’re going to get outraged about the X’s, you should be just as mad about the 100+ pairs of shoes Nordstrom is selling for way, way more than $315.
Photo: Nike, Inc.
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