The Price is Right?
From the once enthused elders of the game, casual buyers, hypebeasts; to parents who are being begged for the new heat by their children, there is one thing we can all agree on. This agreement is ultimately how sneaker prices have risen over the years for various reasons. Costs have increased due to general economic inflation, manufacturing, production, marketing costs, and something as simple as the resell market.
You can go into any sneaker stockist, clothing store, boutique, barbershop and probably any school, and spark a lengthy conversation regarding the cost of sneakers. Ask anyone above the age of 35 and they will probably tell you that they are far from worth the suggested retail prices. Even with that possibly being the case shoes still are purchased on and resold for 250%-800% of their original release price. Is it the prestige and hype that makes it worth the price of admission? Are these shoes really worth it? Especially with inevitable re-releases for most pairs, and eventual restocks for many releases, why are people content on paying these astronomical prices for the new release?
You ask any sane person and the answer is “HELL NO”. Most casual consumers will complain and question the retail prices of releases. They would never fathom a situation where they would pay the resell prices being floated along social networks, EBay, Sole collector, and Kixify. And for the most part they are right. But how did we get to this interesting situation we are in now? I personally remember being in seventh grade and purchasing the first pair of Jordan’s to release for $200 retail. The presentation was flawless, and the hype Nike created made it well worth the price in my opinion. Now when this happened in the early 2000s this was not the standard, it was a rarity, and extremely unique in fact. Even years after that release retro re-releases didn’t touch that price, and other signature lines hadn’t reached that threshold for the most part.
Times have definitely changed though, and now there are signatures that start at $200. Nike always manages to release a special premium or elite release that is well above that price; and it seems like there is no end in sight. The current LeBron 12 elite retail’s at $275; and while being a nice release, I am yet to see ANYONE say they are worth that price. Thus far they have sat, as have a lot of the LeBron 12s. I have personally been told by many people that they will wait for them to reach a clearance price before they even consider purchasing a pair. No, that is not saying the shoe isn’t dope, and the price is for no reason. The LeBron signature line tends to have an immense amount of sneaker tech in it, so the price increases are explainable, but the price point is still very high.
Now here is the chicken or the egg question as it applies to the current climate of sneakers. Are recent prices hikes due to manufacturers noticing the pricing and success of the resell market? Most people would have to agree with that. Nike is well aware of the market, hence their efforts to even the playing field with online releases; attempting to thwart Add to Cart services. There is no way that they wouldn’t see that their products are often being sold for a minimum of a 33% increase without hesitation or complaint from the buyer. The resell market may be the greatest reason for recent price increases. It’s been thought and expressed that if Nike continues to increase prices the resell market may dwindle. I’m personally not too sure or confident in that theory. As retail prices have risen, resell prices have also risen. Don’t get me wrong there have been cases, like the Gift of Flight pack where the percentage of increase when resold was minimal. But, every shoe can’t be listed at $500 in hopes to scare or reduce resale.
PS: The Jordan x Fragment collaboration was just restocked, and since its restock the price has risen to $1700. I guess you just can’t stop hype.