(once $150, now only $120)
The other day a friend and I went to the new Nike Clearance Store in San Leandro figuring we could score on some cheap, generic basketball shorts for $10 dollars or possibly less. I had gone to factory outlets before and know the selection, colors, and sizes for shoes are all a bit off. Either that or they may be defective where the Nike swoosh is upside down.
But this Nike Clearance Store, like the Nordstrom Rack next door, had the prime apparel that you would expect to see at Foot Locker, about 2 years ago. I was browsing through the size 10 aisle and found several pairs of the same exact Air Force 1 x Jordan 3s which I had copped for $120 dollars in the fall of 2008, now only $59. It wasn't a random color (like blue x orange) but the original all-black with the grey cement/elephant printing. And there wasn't just one pair, but 3! I turned around looking at the size 10.5 shelves and found several more. Not only that, but there were a few other AF1xJordan crossovers, like the 4s, as well. All which could be had for $59.
Not only did this make me feel stupid for copping my pair for full price, a pair of shoes I have probably worn no more than 8 times for a grand total of maybe 3 hours (I usually just wear them when I step out to grocery or liquor store to pick something up quick), but I also wondered why they were so readily available, seemingly as ordinary as a pair of Reeboks. Kids and young adults hunting for kicks in the same aisle barely gave a glance at the Jordans, instead opting for low-top and high-top Nike Dunks and other shoes I had seen before on Eastbay for $29.99.
What's happening to the royal Jordan line which people once physically assaulted people for on the streets and outside of shoe stores? Is there a devaluation of the Jordan line? Or is this really about the democratization of style? Jordans for everyone? Or Jordans suddenly needing a make-over?
The price drop in the Jordan-line can be see not only in the AFxJordan line but all across the board. If you go onto Finishline.com, the price of some Jordan 6s and the Spizikes have been reduced by 25%. I managed to pick up a pair of Spizikes several weeks ago for $142 after taxes with promo-codes and more, which at full price would have been close to $200 out the door. The new Air Jordan Alpha 1s, once $124.99, have been reduced by almost 33% (all sizes available).
Homie Hellanoize suggested that the flooding of the market with all kinds of Jordan hybrids has meant people are not merely loyal to the original Jordans anymore since there is so much choice. Also, he suggested that there is just too much supply.
This I could agree with. Last week I went to pick up some alterations and a young woman, probably an underclassman in high school, was wearing the Jordan Flight 45 highs in white, blue and purple. The shoes are a little too bulky for me. But what disturbed me more was the juxtaposition of my Spizikes and her 45s, both shoes which are too expensive I would say for either of us to own at our age and, more importantly, with our payscales (either that or she's mowed a lot of lawns). Maybe she got her shoes on sale, too? But, honestly, at what time ever would there be two people in a store both wearing Jordans (of some kind)?
But could this be only explanation for the ubiquity of Jordans on the feet of people in their teens upwards to their 40s and 50s? Is too much choice and opportunity suddenly mean that they are less "special?" Is it like the episode of the Simpsons where Homer revealed the secret ingredient to the Flaming Moe and the sudden explosion of it everywhere meant that it was no longer interesting?
OR does Jordan's legacy as a GM have anything to do with the sudden drop in demand? Jordan will forever be remembered as THE best player of all time but does this generation of basketball fans growing up in the Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, and Lebron James era know about Jordan's greatness or just as a terrible GM with a penchant for college girls? As an aging G.O.A.T, I get the feeling that youth may consider him and his line as Nikes' senior citizen collection. And if winning is considered the anti-dote to all athletes issues with their reputation, then doesn't Jordan's losing streak with the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Bobcats (sans this season) make him less desirable of a player/icon/legend to align oneself with?
(Is this the lasting image we have of Jordan shoes rather than 6 championships rings?)
Or is it possibly that basketball shoes are just on the wrong side of the fashion curve? In an era where casual shoes like Creative Recreations and chucks have become both a shoe for the street and for the clubs, perhaps basketball shoes just out of style. Talking to a salesman at the Levi Store (ok, I don't really shop this much, but I'm trying to upgrade some dated aspects of my current wardrobe) about shoes and whether I should cop the Spizikes, he bluntly said "I don't really care about Jordans anymore. I prefer the skateboarding style more." The kid was a year detached from college and at least a good 8 years younger than me. But he brings up a good point that as trends go, maybe Nike, temporarily, just isn't keeping up with the trends...or can't compete with the trends at this moment. When walking into another shoe store at Valley Fair, not one customer once touched a pair of the Jordans instead opting to touch and look at the Lebrons.
(too ugly for the basketball courts even?)
In looking at their recent releases, it seems that they've lacked innovation for some time. Instead of seeing new shoes, there seems to be more re-releases of hit shoes from the nineties which have been hybridized with other hit shoes from the nineties. Case in point, the Penny Hardaway ½ cents, which is a combination of his classic first and second shoe. Or the Nike Air Max A Lots, a hybridization of the first Scottie Pippens and the Air Maxs. The shocking thing is how at regular price they're only $87 dollars but are now on sale for $50. By looking at them, it's pretty clear why they've been discounted so much and so readily available.
Atma Brother #1 and I have talked at length about the "golden era" of shoes during the early to late nineties. I would go so far as to argue that Jordans and Nike in general has been in a funk since as early as the 2000s. It's not that basketball as a sport has gone out of style, but perhaps its the fashion of basketball. In the past you might have worn Jordan 11s with a tuxedo for a wedding. Nowadays where the nerdy, grown and known style of cardigans, dress shirts, and skinny ties and jeans are in, rocking clunky basketball shoes is a fashion no-no.
Or perhaps the bottoming out of the economy has made consumers think twice about the ridiculous pricing of Jordan shoes. If equally stylish Creative Recs can be had for $50 dollars, perhaps young people with less spending power or even people with spending power will opt for those instead of basketball shoes 3 times the price?
I don't have an answer for why Jordans are so available...just some general ideas. But is this phenomenon of Jordan overstock telling us something about major shifts in the shoe business? For you shoe fanatics, what are your thoughts about your changing consumer tastes and the possibility of the end of the Jordan/Nike dominance?