Here’s a photo of Lebron James thinking about how he can get more money from people willing to overpay for sneakers.
If you haven’t heard yet, Miami Heat star Lebron James has new shoes coming out that cost $300 or close to it (so says the rumors). For some reason expensive sneakers bring out a range of reactions. From the people who swear up and down that that’s alllll poor people do is buy sneakers rather than save to be not so poor OR the people who lament the fact that poor kids can’t get the shoes they think are so cool.
Neither argument makes sense.
Greg Doyel over at CBS took the second tack and wrote an entire diatribe about the price of Lebron’s shoes being further proof that he doesn’t get “it.”
That’s why this story turns my stomach. If James were somebody else — if he were, say, Kobe Bryant, the son of a professional basketball player — I’d have to find another reason to hate these shoes. And maybe I’d fail. Maybe if it were Kobe being Kobe, blithely marketing $300 shoes for children who live the affluent childhood he once lived, I’d let it slide. That’s a hypothetical, so I’m done wasting time on it.
What’s real is this:
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LeBron James, 27, just put his name on a pair of shoes that 14-year-old LeBron James couldn’t have bought.
This is world-class greed and corporate cluelessness, something we never saw even from Michael Jordan himself. In 1985 Nike released the first pair of Air Jordans for the whopping price of $65, and that’s not me being sarcastic. In 1985, $65 was a whopping price. Ask your parents for a pair of Air Jordans, as some my friends did in 1985, and you’d get laughed out of the living room. In today’s money, with inflation factored in, those $65 Air Jordans in 1985 would sell for about $140 in 2012.
It’s terrible that among all the things that poor kids deserve and very often can’t get (nutritious foods, safe spaces to play, quality education) the sneaker issue comes up whenever some folks want to point out that they’re deprived or have society spitting in their faces.
But what I find most troubling about Doyel’s opinion is the expectation that Lebron reduce his earning potential because he USED to be poor.
Back when Michael Jordan became the premiere seller of grossly over priced sneakers the argument that the shoes were out of reach for the kids who wanted them the most made more sense. But now, the sneaker industry is driven by guys old enough to rent a car without an additional fee. The guys who grew up on Jordans are the primary sneaker enthusiasts now.
It’s not that the younger generation doesn’t wear sneakers, it’s that youthful fashion in 2012 is less about high priced sneakers and hoodies with labels and more about fit and color like those yellow skinny jeans young dudes wear that adults are always wailing about like geriatric idiots.
Adults are driving the sneaker industry and Lebron should be fully allowed to take as much money as they can get from them without being shamed into doing otherwise. Lots of young ladies want to wear Manolo Blahnik heels but no one is pressuring the Spanish designer to make a line with shoes that cost less than $600-$3000.
Speaking of which, rappers often attach themselves to brands younger folks cannot afford. And rap is often full of poverty war stories which results in often DIRECT profits from the communities who can’t afford them. Why are those musicians not also expected to scale down the price of their items to suit the poor kids who presumably look up to them?
When it comes down to it, Lebron’s sneakers are a luxury expense…just like ipads, Celine bags, golf and a multitude of other things the vast majority of Americans couldn’t afford if Suze Orman was making the decision. Like any parent, poor ones are free to say “no” you can’t have that which is something my mom certainly never had a problem doing.
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