Sneaker Heads Are Fighting Back, What Will Corporations Do?

By Natasha L. Foreman

If you’re a sneaker head then you most likely salivate at the thought of getting your hands on a coveted pair of your beloved sneakers, even it means paying a thousand dollars or more for them. It’s your love of the shoe, the status it brings, the ooh and aahs you receive from other sneaker heads. Over the years and especially since the start of the pandemic, you have noticed an increased pressure and greater scarcity when it comes to acquiring popular sneaker brands and designs. You’re seeing sneaker resellers taking over and clobbering the marketplace. Between greedy individuals excessively marking up resell prices and tech-savvy minds programming bots to buy buy buy shoes at mass scale, regular Joe, Jane, Jamal, and Jackie simply don’t stand a chance. Or do they?

Maya Ernest wrote an article for Input Magazine taking on this sneaker war and sharing the insights of startups like LACED and SoleSavy, who are fighting back resellers and creating their own sanctuary communities since they say that mega giants like Nike and Adidas won’t. There are a lot of questions that come from this ongoing sneaker debate. For over two decades we have heard the arguments from parents of tweens and teens who are stressed by having to shell hundreds of dollars for a pair of sneakers that their child will probably grow out of in several months.

As we’re seeing more and more designers jump on the sneaker bandwagon, we’re seeing the prices escalate to prices that look like monthly mortgages on 2,000+ square foot homes, in some cities (except Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York where the equivalent could be as small as 700 square feet). The truth is, it doesn’t cost even half the price to make the shoes. In some instances it’s costing the company a fraction, like less than $10 to make, yet they’re selling it to you for $250 and up to several hundred dollars. The same is true with the clothes you wear. And they can do it because you will pay them. Add to the madness the resell market where the markup is triple and quadruple the retail price, and we’re seeing people not pay bills and rent so they can get their hands on that beloved pair of rubber and fabric glued shoes. Diehard sneaker heads say don’t judge them. It’s their love of the shoes.

Can the industry pivot and make some adjustments in their structure to accommodate the diehards and the parents who want to please their children, while of course remaining a super profitable company? Imagine if you have the traditionally-marketed Air Jordans or Yeezy’s and then also have a tiered shoe as part of the line that costs less, but still has the pow effect, can you still rake in the dough without the frenzy and heartache we’re currently seeing consumers face? Yes you can.

Here’s a premium example to give you a better picture… we’re seeing luxury car companies creating tiered pricing models for their cars to provide greater affordability, whether for the regular Joe, Jane, Jamal, and Jackie, or as a great alternative for their premium customers who would like to purchase vehicles for their children but with a lower price tag. Either way, the car company is selling more units because more people can buy the lower-priced model. Their top-tiered models are still selling while they have differentiated their portfolio of options. It’s not a drastic step-down. No one’s saying, “Eeew this is drastically different, I don’t want this crap!” Nope, people are loving the appeal and connectivity they have with a brand that they always admired but couldn’t afford. But now they can.

We’re also seeing this with luxury clothing brands that have considered lower-priced options to bring in a more diverse customer base, even if that’s simply their customer’s making purchases for their tweens and teens, without shelling out the bigger bucks. What do these luxury brands find? Even their traditional customers are cleaning up on these alternative purchases, bringing more variety to their closets. This is exactly the type of relationship that the big sneaker makers can create. It doesn’t have to cheapen their brand, unless they cheapen their image, values, and culture. What are your thoughts on this?

Check out Maya Ernest’s article here and then answer this poll question below, or answer the question first:

Source: Ernest, M. (18 May, 2021). As sneaker resellers take over, small communities fight back. Input Magazine.

Copyright 2021. Foreman & Associates, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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