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Stokesworld: My Open Letter To The Sneaker Community Which Probably Ensures I Never Get Hired Again

Dallas Stokes is back, and goes in.

What up Sneaker Community!!! I have been on a bit of a hiatus as of late due to refocusing my creative efforts into film and television but have still been more than interested and dabbling in the footwear game. While I was gone, I have submitted work to Nike when I heard that Jordan Brand had a opening but never quite followed through on my effort. I applied for a job at a Finish Line store and never got called back. I sat down with ANTA and worked on a couple of things and did a few more shoes for Protegemvp.com, but not those boots and those fake wires!!! I don’t know what that’s about… Watched Van Grack crash and burn after I wasn’t given the cash I was promised to market it. Did you know they were out? Me either. Hooked up with NASA to do shoes and realized when talking to rocket scientists you have to dumb everything down. But really other than that I haven’t been doing much else beside trying to figure out if I will ever be beaten on NBA2k12.

However I have been keeping a close eye on the game because I love it and I always will. And with all due respect, sneaker community, I don’t know what the hell is going on!!! You have Jordan’s that look like Nike, then you got Under Armour that looks like old And1′s, adidas is starting to get sexy again but the basketball product is not as sexy as the casual or running. I mean, I look at it and I understand it but it just still looks utilitarian unlike the sleek and sexy running stuff. But the Chicago boy in me did like that Rose drop top. Let’s see…Reebok and Converse are no longer even players in the basketball game. Chinese brands have signed a bunch of players and can’t even sell shoes over here because they are selling the same shoe in China for $35 and trying to sell it over here for $80 when they are just copies of the same shoe we buy for $100!!! Retailers are staying strong with the relationships they have with major brands because they are the only ones that understand marketing makes money. I respect Brett and am happy that he got the opportunity of a lifetime but honestly I think some of you were pointing fingers at the wrong guy. And with all that said I have to sit back and ask,”What the hell ever just happened to cool man?”

Remember when companies made cool stuff that was functional but also made cool commercials? Shoes and commercials that sparked that inner “Be Like Mike” song that played in your head while you were shooting to 21 on that crate tied to a utility pole in the alley? Oh yeah…that’s right…crates tied to a utility pole in the alley!!! Guess what’s commercial and viral guys? Not everyone has a empty multi-million dollar techno lit gym or Roman coliseum to play basketball in while growing up!!! Where do they get this stuff!!! Like seriously…have these people ever even played basketball? Case in point: Kobe Bryant. Arguably one of the top three best players in the game today and he hasn’t had a commercial that made sense since adidas when he was shooting balls on the beach. The puppets don’t count, love the puppets…

And I want to see Derrick Rose in a barbershop going in on guys like Spree and C Webb did back in the day!!! I want to see a DeAndre Jordan and Brandon Jennings get busy like Q and D Miles did back in the day over some Gang Starr or Odd Future!!! Its called relevance!!!

Remember when the commercials were funnier or aspirational and gave you something to talk about as opposed to something to Google because you have no idea what the hell is going on in them? And please? Please? Watch some commercials from like the 90′s before shooting the ones you’re shooting now? They were cool and actually not so skinny jeans tight in the balls selling technology over a story!!! Technology should be PART of the story if the product is cool. Look at car ads, they tell you everything about the car and its fuel efficiency and give me a few donuts in the end. I’m sorry but basketball is not as cool as it used to be. Where’s those damn puppets!!! Where’s Durant and Russell How The Westbrook Was Won commercials? And Nike, if you put a pair of Blake Griffin’s out with some leather on it, guess what? That Shit Would Sell Son!!! His Kia commercials are doper than his Nike commercials that don’t exist. You got the Internet to inform us, now entertain us!!! I know performance is key and the message of performance is important but beside UA I don’t see much relevance or anything that gives me a story to follow so even if I’m not Cam Newton I still get where his product is going and how it relates to him. Kobe, who I naturally hate because I’m a Celtics fan, nobody likes being called a snake!!! And adidas…who were all those people in your commercial running from? I want the shoes on the guy chasing them!!!

Its crazy out there!!! Craziest of all however is what’s going on with my Jordans. I’m sorry and I know it sounds hypocritical or bitter since I applied for a job there but Jordan Brand and especially the Air Jordan is not as sexy as it used to be. Now don’t get me wrong, I got a closet full of Jordan and I would take a job over there in a heartbeat but I, like most, am not happy. I mean the retros are still great shoes but I think what the fans miss is that shoe that was great on the court, which this AJ2012 is, however it doesn’t make the visual statement or stroke the imagination or emotions like Air Jordans of the past. I think the athletic designers and managers of today have grown so comfortable with expressing all the things they learned about other industries that they have forgot they need to design for the industry of basketball also.

Tinker Hatfield when working on shoes of the past was great at introducing new materials and ideas to the Jordans but the shoes were always still relevant to not only Jordan but basketball and the imagination. I get the wingtip thing but I miss the way the shoe would have a story about something bad ass like a cat or car or fighter jet MJ owned and how it morphed into his game and the shoe. Little less pretty boy, little more bad ass. There is nothing wrong with being inspired by a nice suit or a piece of furniture or a toaster in a french IKEA store but can we get some more inspiration from the game itself also? Like for instance what is the trend setter and athlete’s perspective on today’s game and how does that reflect on the brand. “The Cool.” Then there is just a respect factor. I don’t want to take my insole out of my Jordans like I do my Kobe!!! I don’t want to see tech that I learned to love with LeBron passed down like a Bulls center to my Wades!!! And I don’t want people to look at a Jordan and say,”Those are fucking ugly!” Back in the day we would say it and then when we saw it in person we realized how hot it was because of blocking and materialization and we got it. That’s like somebody saying to me your girlfriend looks really intelligent but she’s ugly. I really don’t know when all this started happening? Then I thought about it, talked to some people, and read every post in Brett’s “Design Insight” blog and began to realize what’s missing. The product doesn’t relate to the legend anymore because the legend is no longer on the court anymore. The emotional attachment to the product has been severed because we feel like Jordan is perhaps no longer putting the same input into the product because he’s no longer playing. Bullshit. I think the product and the man have left more than enough on the court to create stories and shoes for years to come.

So now I have to ask,”Is it just that the shoe itself is not hot?” Did TNT (Tom and Tinker) not blow it up? I thought that at first as I did for every year an Air Jordan came out and then it grew on me and I got them. The reality is that Jordans, just like every other shoe, has to evolve to survive. What we growing up became comfortable with is the past. Even though we may not accept the aesthetic approach of Flywire we have to understand these materials may be the leather of the performance future along with tech like Fuse and Flyknit. These ain’t your daddy’s Jordans no more kids, so keep up. Now am I buying the 2012s? No, but thousands of other people are so just like any other product I feel doesn’t work for me I move on to something else. In talking to people in the community I understand there is an expectation for the Jordan that has not been met by in their eyes for years but hey, them Chris Paul’s and Melo’s aint looking all that bad… So unless your ready to protest on One Bowerman Drive or not put up tents and start fights on a school night in front of Foot Locker, show your distaste by not buying them. When those red 50% tags start covering up enough Jumpmans things will change.

And I know what some of you are probably sitting out there and saying,”Well can you do any better?” NO. Honestly the same person that would ask that question is probably the same person who complains about Obama being President but is not a registered voter. I grew up in a time when if you made crap nobody bought it. I have been a victim of crap making myself but nowadays people will buy anything as long as there is a big billboard and stupid commercial attached. It’s kinda like the music game which I often compare to the shoe game with the exception of we designers don’t get shot. For years the music industry was filled with diversity and talent, as it is somewhat now. What ended up happening is that the talent began to become self aware of itself and its worth. When that happened the record companies as opposed to making the talent comfortable began to think we will always be here and the artist are a dime a dozen so if they don’t play by our rules we will just replace them. When you replace talent with a system of talentless monotony to make a big machine work you end up taking the soul out of the products you produce. I mean Whitney Houston and Rihanna have sold tons of records but which do you think actually had talent and which do you think is a processed gimmick? When you have no real talent you have to push gimmicks. Best way to push a gimmick is marketing. So if you have a plethora of marketing being shoved in the consumers face at the end of the day the consumer may overlook the quality. So you ask “What is he saying?” Basically I’ve said it before and I will say it again,”If it’s not cool don’t buy it.” The power is truly in the hands of the consumer. YOU. Don’t cry about it on blogs, then when it goes on sale you buy it. Just don’t buy it. Force these companies to take notice that we want better and you will get better. And leave the big homie Brett alone!!! He’s got street cred in the D. LOL!!!

On another note. There was a lot drummed up about the whole riots at the sneaker stores for the Galaxy Foamposite Penny thing. Let me give you some advice since I know how much it costs to actually risk going to jail or getting beat up or robbed over a shoe. With all due respect, I can’t blame Nike for shoe riots anymore. People won’t line up to vote but they will camp out on a school night to get a limited release pair of shoes. You’re whack!!! You deserve an ass whooping!!! If you’re going to line up outside in the cold where everyone knows your sitting on $160 at night with limited police resources, in the words of the immortal Butthead, “You are a dumbass, Beavis.” Once again the Sneaker Community has put a dent in our lifestyle image. You never see rich people riot outside the Bentley dealership when the new coupe drops. Come on people? You’re not just doing it, you’re just dumb.


Dallas Stokes is a 20-year footwear industry veteran. His current shoe design projects include Protege, ANTA, Van Grack, Militia Project, The Dallas Stokes Collection, and maybe some NASA-licensed shit in the near future. Read his interviews here and here.

Get Stoked and catch up on the complete “Stokesworld With Dallas Stokes” archive.

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Comments (56)

nobody was really looking to hire you anyways. you’re out of work for a reason.

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D, let’s unload that Nike/Jordan port pitch. New post…

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Once again Allen has proven that a mind is a terrible thing to waist. READ ALLEN… See you on the news at the next shoe riots…SMH…

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I’m on it JB I will send you over everything.

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uh oh, here comes trouble…

D, I really couldn’t have said it better. I agree with this completely. the best ad campaign we got this year was UA and they didn’t give us any shoes. This industry needs a SERIOUS shake-up. I have a feeling the next big thing is going to be something completely unseen.

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No knock to the majors but I just want the fun of the 90′s back!!! I love the business but I remember when people lined up over night for NEW shoes…

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Agree 100%, it’s gonna be hard to fix though.

It’s a society problem, apparently it’s acceptable now to replace fact, reality, with how you ‘feel’ or how it’s ‘in your eyes’, so as long as Tinker says it’s a cool shoe, and other’s join in (Brett…. smh), you can create your own bubble where reality doesn’t really count.
And since people are mainly looking to fit in, and not stand out, they quickly join shared-delusions.

That will make it really hard to bring individuality, and personality back.

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i think that UA did a lot right this year, not just with the ad campaigns which were great but the shoes too.

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I agree with everything said here! The actual game of basketball has been left out in the design phase of shoes. I like the Durant’s, Chris Paul’s, even the Derrick Rose Adidas, but that’s 3 shoes out of hundreds and that’s not a good ratio. The story on the 2012′s, it’s a great shoe, but there’s too many components, just like with marketing. They’re trying to force components over actual quality. You’re telling me Jordan Brand is close to selling a shoe at a loss??? I got some ocean front property in Arizona for yo ass too!

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Heres my thing.

The Kobe system is a dope commercial…And heres why.

The whole production of the commercial… is just blatantly & outrageously OVER THE TOP… Kobe for christ sakes comes out of the ground to give his presentation. Its a satirical take on Kobe’s Obsessive work ethic…i.e when it was reported that Kobe decided to get some shots up after a losing effort in one of his games, or him getting on Shaq for being out of shape and just is overall seriousness of trying to be the best ever.. yadda yadda

The Whole production pokes fun at that attitude.. everything is OVER THE TOP… its hilarious when you think about it…
thats why that commercial is so good. I dont see how you missed it.

And you dont want to see Derrick Rose in a Barbershop..clowning? really?. He barely can speak… He doesnt even want to dance at the AllStar game cause its not the …time and place…? huh?

Now D. Howard is hilarious! have you seen his viral videos of him explaining his shoes?… very funny.. but thats cause D Howard is a funny playful fella.

No Shade but this post kind of reeks of “OLD MAN – BACK IN MY DAY” syndrome. I dont think things are that bad.

Oh and U-A is essentially Nike-light. Since they have young money and not a major company to hold them back ..i.e Nike over converse or Adidas over Reebok.. they essentially have more freedom to be whoever… But they chose to be Nike-Light. :-/

Anybody can follow a path that has already been made… but its hard as hell to blaze your own.

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First of all your entire section about Kobe explains my point entirely. Nobody cares!!! We want some action!!! See how it had to be explained with a rather extensive explanation? All I got is 60 to 30 seconds!!! Theres nothing new about a good concept executed poorly.
As far as the commercial ideas the key just like the shoes was a question of relevance. Your explanation is great because it shows how OVER THE TOP they have to be to sell it. If I never saw that shoe in person what about it do I take from that commercial that makes me want it? Oh Richard Branson was in it!!! and so was Kanye!!! And that annoying comedian that was funny like once and getting the world handed to him!!! And the barbershop idea just an example that reaches back to helping define Rose and get attached to him and the product and his person. Robbie Fuller told a better story about what the shoe was about than Derrick Rose? I did like the straight out of his couch viral hits but flowers in a Roman Coliseum… adidas’ Star Wars was a perfect example of being over the top, artistic, worldly and virally relevant at the same time. The intimacy of shoe and athlete has been lost in marketing.

Now mind you I understand that viral marketing is key nowadays however its not a perfected vessel yet. Its to uncoordinated and lacks a certain finesse. Jordan brand has actually figured it out with there coordinated effort its just the stories aren’t as entertaining as back in the day. Yes I am an old man however me and my kid can both sit and watch Inside The NBA together and be entertained and informed.

And as far as the whole UA/Nike light thing…I hear you…And I also heard it back in the old days from old Converse and reebok type shoe guys and guess what? In the battle of Former Heavyweight Champion Converse Vs. Nike Light!!! Nike Won!!! They won because they were fresh cool and relevant. Young upstarts who knew the potential of Michael Jordan and not Chuck Taylor. Dwayne Wade and not Chuck Taylor. Even though i may not like all the product I love the way people keep underestimating the companies culture. Its that kind of thinking that helps it all the more easier to loose market share little by little.

Like I said,” Theres nothing new about a good concept executed poorly.” That goes for shoes and marketing.

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“First of all your entire section about Kobe explains my point entirely. Nobody cares!!! We want some action!!! See how it had to be explained with a rather extensive explanation? All I got is 60 to 30 seconds!!!”

lol… people do care… and the sales reflect that ! And the Kobe System was not even that hard to figure out.(no diss) (Im just sayin) . It was over the top. It was about SEVEN viral commercials.. over the top. Top athletes/ entertainers.. over the top.. If that satirical play on Kobe’s work ethic is not an intimate connection to who he is? Then I dont know what else to tell you. But its all good

Back in the Day when Penny and Payton and C Webb ect had commercials.. there was no Internet.. no QR codes to scan with your Iphone.. no you tube.. It was just a TV commercial and some instore POP… but its a different world now my man

I guess I just don’t feel like the intimacy is lost. I just think its different levels. You want every thing to reach you on an emotional level like they did as a kid.. but its not the same climate.. and we arent kids anymore bruh bruh

Ass far as UA goes.. the only reason I call them Nike-Light..is because they’re not doing anything really new. Its more or less retro marketing that we’ve already seen from Nike. Like Jay-z can go back to rapping about crack and bishes.. but why? hes off that.. hes on to the next.

Nike is on the verge of building something bigger than the shoe… bigger than cute commercials … that will reach way more people and make a bigger impact (if done right) I hope

We will see.
good discussion btw

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Hey Dallas, awesome post! Sorry to hear about Van Grack, I actually submitted an idea to you that you like, but then you told me they wanted to go the cartoon route, and I unfortunately knew where that was going to lead…… Anyways I 100% agree with you. Nike has become souless, it’s like they took the fun away and it’s just uber seriousness. The Kobe system spots were funny, , but anyone who wasn’t into sneakers wouldn’t even know they were selling sneakers. Brand Jordan is selling off of pure legacy.

UA has money so they won’t become the next And1, but they really have to push the envelope on their designs and carve out a niche. Right now they come off as baby Nike.

Adidas needs to stop playing it safe and strike right now. Stop creating whack looking shoes, except the Rose 2.5, and stop making all of your shoes look exactly the same. This is their time to really turn it up, but they have to take risk. It’s like they take two steps forward and one step back… pop that shit into 6th step on the gas and open it up and go!

Converse and Reebok, non existent. Adidas, pull a Jordan and snatch up Wall before Nike does. Converse just become a lifestyle product.

Li-ning, Peak, anta, etc… Nice try, but ain’t nobody buying. Your best bet is to front an American company and sell shoes under a different name.

Whoever brings the fun and relate-ability back to basketball will win. Keep it simple, fun, and evolving.

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Hildred I hear you one hundred percent Nike has a lot going on with interactive bands and shoes but its still gotta make sense in the end and be cool to be sold. So basically your saying now that there is internet its ok to half ass it? Its ok to walk into Foot Locker and the adverse employee don’t know anything about the product? Im not sure if thats a productive world or a marketing blunder. Hell I know all about QR codes i put them on Protege boxes last year and due to the very reasons you spoke of tried to coordinate the launch of those and Vangrack with my Vangrack spread in Vibe magazine. However just because it had a QR code on it didn’t mean I was happy to settle with viral voodoo. No I had to be strategic on all marketing fronts and the brand had an ideology to follow which never made it because the money was sold that new age without proper planning story I hear a million times a year. At the end of the day half the QR codes out there don’t even interface properly with the phones!!! Work in progress? I don’t know…However lets not just kick the “old” values of something being cool and entertaining to the side just yet?

As far as,”I guess I just don’t feel like the intimacy is lost. I just think its different levels. You want every thing to reach you on an emotional level like they did as a kid.. but its not the same climate.. and we arent kids anymore bruh bruh.” No where not, however Its my inner kid that wants to make the money to be able to afford a NSX. Its my grown man thats gonna pay for it or probably end up being practical and buying the KIA. Without imagination and some immaturity you wouldnt have aspirations. Its important that one not fall to the wayside for another. They are both equally important. I’m not saying be a immature kid all the time I’m just saying dont take life so seriously all the time because funny thing is your gonna get old and die.

So I just had a interesting back in forth with a industry insider about this post and how reckless it supposedly was. Of course he came from a major and felt I went a little to hard and was irresponsible. We began speaking and he kept rolling on the car reference I used in my blog and how great cars are (most shoe designers do, it comes from going to school and wanting to be Brett but not making it so you choose shoes) and that cars are so great…

I told him,”Ok well lets look at how even cars make mistakes?” And lets relate it to MY OPINION? I’m sure you’ve all seen the new Acura NSX Jerry Seinfeld vs. Jay Leno commercial? In this commercial you had Jerry Seinfeld vs. Jay Leno competing for the option of being first to get a NSX. Great commercial right!!! WRONG!!! First up you only see the car for like 5 seconds. If you never knew of Jerry Seinfeld or Jay Leno’s passion for cars (which is possible…I’m a Jimmie Fallon man myself) you couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. Also by putting those two in the commercial you’ve clearly defined your demographic and sticker price. So to most consumers watching all they walk away with is Jay Leno was in a rocket squirrel suit!!! Isn’t that funny!?! Just like Kobe, you took an amazing beautiful performance shoe and athlete and covered it up with celebrity misdirection. Meanwhile Blake Griffen got ran over by Jeff Goldblum with Kia and I could tell you more about that car and was entertained also!!! he ask,”Well both were funny? Where is the relevance?” I can tell you this I have more of an attachment to Kia than Acura even though I would aspire to have a NSX over an Optima any day of the week. NSX has always been a cool car however it had to go away for a while to be retooled and redefined. Perhaps with a growing stable and a solid classic business in order that may not be a bad idea for some of our shoe brands.

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One last thing Hildred and I bow out. You made a good point about one of the most influential and relevant authors of our time,”Like Jay-z can go back to rapping about crack and bishes.. but why? hes off that.. hes on to the next.” Even though he’s on to the next and evolves with age and experience he still stays grounded in what Hip Hop truly is and still is laying to waste all his contemporaries.

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Shouldn’t that be ‘ensures’ not ‘insures’?

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Good catch, L. I updated, should have caught it on the initial edit, D does the main graphics himself though so that’s still there.

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Love the post Dallas, my sentiments exactly. Sorry to hear about Van Grack, you liked my advertising pitch on Facebook, but then you said you were going the cartoon route and I knew that wasn’t going to end well…

Nike has this sneaker game on lock. Their design process and details are just on another level. As a brand, I feel that they know who they are and are clear about where they are going.

Jordan has lost all of it’s swag. They are surviving off of pure legacy. That’s it! They have no direction, and I feel have become an after thought at Nike, in the past Jordans set the tone not only for Nike basketball products, but for all brands to follow. Now they are relying on gimmicks to sell a shoe that back in the day would sell itself. I mean three different insoles and two booties, who wants to go through all of that… adidas did that in the 90′s. The damn shoe box looks like luggage. It’s embarrassing! Then I have to watch a video of Tinker trying to come up with some inspirational story behind the design; a wing tip and jazz! C’mon Tinker you weren’t even buying that crap… what’s next years model going to be a penny loafer! You are burned out, uninspired, I get it. You go from designing for the best and most iconic basketball player to a bunch of hyped up players who wish they could be Marcus and Jeffery Jordan. You go from designing products for the person who changed the game to players who play in the game he changed, it’s not the same.

Growing up I didn’t care about the tech in Jordans, I knew they were the best because they were crafted up to the expectations of the greatest basketball player. They spent a year plus designing ONE perfect shoe, not ten knock offs, but ONE, sexy, well crafted piece of footwear technology.

Adidas is the only athletic company that can even challenge Nike, truly. I feel that they are one good designer and brand mission away. I say the same thing about their running designs, whoever is designing their running footwear needs to check these basketball designs. This years design line, outside of the 2.5′s, sucked! I know they are focused on performance, they just need to step up their designs… they need to push the envelope, stop playing it so safe. Come up with a clear and concise brand message, understand who they are, stop trying to chase Nike, and only drop hot products. In order to gain major ground they are going to have to leap frog Nike… they are going to have to create an ipad equivalent in the shoe game or they will always be number two.

UA has more money and diversified products so they will be better than and1, but they need to step up designs and find their own lane.

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After scouring the internet for months, I finally was able to get a pair of the Anta KGII’s, and I’m impressed. China gets alot of flak for “cheap products”, but have to say these are one of the best bball shoes I’ve ever purchased: http://www.celtkicks.com/2012/03/anta-kg2-in-jeans.html

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Good Job Dallas! Great work and I would hire you in a heart beat because you have VISION and ORIGINALITY! Speak on!

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Dallas. Preach on with it. Great post.

Kobe shoe and commercial suck. Neither are intuitive, inspiring, or authentic. Straight forced. Jordan ’12 nowhere near it’s standard. Grade A bullshit marketing story. Both programs need an ER room visit and a acouple of “CLEAR!” chest paddle restarts!!!! No doubt the rest of the industry as well, but these are 2 of the leads who deserve the negative criticism.

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i actually knew van grack was out i just couldnt find them and i do agree with you on companys using gimicks such as reebok zigs but you should try converse they might hire you

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Hey KWAPT!!! I Know I’m working on the next Garnett as we speak!!! LOL!!! And thank you guys for checking in good or bad. Open forum is a healthy way for a designer to stay relevant and grow.

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Sweet post Dallas!!!!!!!!!! Gotta respect a man who speaks his mind!!!

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*pauses kung fu flick*

in many ways basketball is REALLY the quintessential AMERICAN sport, much more than football (which has its roots in rugby) with all its rigidness, baseball (which has existed in various incarnations in the form of various stick & ball games in many countries) with all its too-serious traditions. basketball is that nu-nu, it best represent the ideals of expression, individuality, & style within that team construct—soccer too has some of these elements but the fact that it is so big elsewhere, in true american fashion, we will never let it catch on here-cause we HAVE to be different/single ourselves out. the intimacy & nuance to the game of basketball, to me, is unparalleled; tinker understood/understands this about basketball & sports in general. thats why i believe he incorporated mj into the design process by way of ‘functional’ stylistic cues, he was trying to give consumers a piece of mj himself, connecting us to that greatness. but not sure people at large see basketball in that light…

this is the shift, do kids today realize how GREAT lebron is? what they are ‘witness’ to? how impressive it is to see ‘too big, too fast, too strong’ d.rose fly down the court and contort and still exhibit the maybe softest touch in the association? how ridiculous it is that kd at nearly 7′ will cross you up like a cat a foot shorter and shoots from distance with such effortlessness, that they might as well be free throws? while i don’t necessarily disagree (i guess that also would mean i don’t necessarily agree either) with the issues raised, i will say this: it is a different world-word to kadeem hardison (of which an interesting question would be what is the modern day equivalent to shows of the aforementioned & fresh prince of bel-air?) while i tv spots still are a major way to move the message, tv isn’t nearly as “shared” of an experience as it used to be, so the goal is maybe to be more irreverent or provocative than illustrative or inspirational, the aspiration of today is more than basketball. kids today actually say things like “that shoe looks TOO basketball” and “i would ONLY hoop in that” WHA???? this never was apart of my or people i knew thought process when i was young. sure we had kicks that were “school shoes” but ‘too basketball’ was NOT in our vocabulary. i believe basketball just isn’t as integral to the youngin’s today, or if it is it exist in a realm of its own, and does not overlap nearly as much as it used to. basketball players while by far the most ‘accessible’ athletes in sports, compared to even your most niche of musical artist, bball players are not nearly as relevant and if they are that relevance begins and ends oncourt. it is worth mentioning that the time is being opined for, was when basketball was probably the top u.s. sport (or at least the fastest growing) with the most popular athlete in maybe the HISTORY of sport. it isn’t a surprise that the least popular js are the one that money DID NOT wear (that is why they chicago x doing so well surprised me—people are hooked to that retro pipe [and yes that is an double entendre!]) and that the flagship line has become increasingly less relevant ever since…

as great as the jordan line was, where we are now is something of a logical progression; jordans, historically, were typically NEVER the best performing nike basketball shoes, they were however the most fashion forward & uniquely designed for an otherworldly phenom of player who came along in just the right era and just the right brand to reap the benefits. and the shoe companies (as well as their pitchmen-how many of these athletes are even interesting enough to be stars? they feign his polish but have none of their own interests OR myths) have been trying to re-create that model ever since–not happening! athletes will always been necessary to validate product, but the expectation that any 1 athlete will come close to that sort of relevance…in someways the FACT that jordans have transcended the sport of basketball hurts its basketball heritage and as the reality of jordan fades maybe so too will its basketball relevance?

in spite of this i believe jordan brand has and will continue to make excellent well thought out & crafted product, because i feel like they BELIEVE in creating that type of product; it just won’t be as relevant to consumers as the retro stuff…sad indeed, i do hope i am wrong about that and people will come back around to wanting to be next instead of holding on to what was…

so in summation, i know we are in the age of super criticism, but the brands have a tough road to plow. cynical, discerning(though maybe not in the ‘right’ ways), & splintered consumers, increasing costs…if this were easy, everybody would be in the shoe biz…oh wait, that is kinda true…which to my mind is the BIGGEST problem, there are WAY TOO MANY SHOES! it seems like everybody is doing footwear and making way too much of them. i think it is hard for consumers to really know what is really worth paying attention to when there is so much product out here (athletic,athletic inspired, casual, lifestyle, retro) with so much overlap, how many are people are willing to weed through all that? when choosing what has already been chose, co-signed and kind of default will do? so is making a shoe (you can insert any product there) commercial about shoes really going to stand out? in someways, the sneaker thing is eating itself [another double entendre!!] eventually someone get wise will crack the code…

/end rant

*goes back to watching bruce lee kung fu flick*

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Man, do we need that time machine…haha…no, really, wow…Dallas, i agree with you man, 100 %, remember that holyfield-payton ad? MAN o MAN!!!! puuuuuuuure cool! ART! and it was gone in a blink of the eye! like that! 30 sec and 60 sec versions that show what horrible things they do nowadays to promote a kobe shoe…adidas got it with Fast Don’t Lie…and all the “superstars” shoes really suck, i mean, from this year or last, mention ONE one shoe that can make you drool like the AJVIII, like the last shots…one, just one…or recently, the Lebron IV! what happened next man?!?!

Hey Dallas, you deserve to be right there fixing things with the top 3, but…it could be way more inspiring and cooler if you pulled off a Linsanity on them…just sayin’

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PREACH, Dallas, PREACH ! ! !

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Somewhere along the way, well actually, once the labeling began, considering oneself a “sneaker head” then the collecting of certain “kicks” suddenly becoming a “game”, is where all went wrong. Many of you won’t admit to this, but that is when Nike began to target, then began looking to control what was the new market, one outside of the recreational athlete, and many fell victim to the hype and the need to belong.

Nike cannot control the recreational athlete, as we wear what we want to wear, looking for quality at a good price.

However, Nike has figured out that they can control the sneaker head, and it seems that they are going to continue to exploit that angle, as they move toward their monetary goals. They no longer have to make good, high quality shoes, those using superior materials without gimmicks. The problem is, it seems that other than Adidas, the rest of the industry seemed not to know what direction to take, then losing the consumers attention.

Many of my generation have turned toward running and running shoes. You can get a good workout without dealing with some idiot on court who is trying out his new crossover and his plastic Kobe shoes, while ignoring the big man in the post. You also cannot control this market through hype and limited product, as Nike has never had a hold upon this demographic, and they never will. There will always be that murmur that Nike makes shoddy running shoes. This gives the other companies the chance to market their wares to those who understand what shoes are supposed to do, which is what Adidas, then seemingly Under Armor, have figured out for the basketball community, those of us who actually play in our shoes, those of us who’d never ignore the big man in the post.

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Excellent comment Mede.

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The Wade 1 sold pretty well, which shows that given the right player and design people will buy Converse. Nike hasn’t tried to grow the brand since Wade left. They could grow the brand and take back some of the market share from Adidas and Reebok while not hurting their bottom line. It’s very frustrating that a company with a history like Converse is slowly being killed off by Nike. Maybe the Chuck Taylor bubble will burst soon and Nike will have grow a strong brand in both performance and fashion or sell them off…but I am not counting on it.

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Man I been wanting Converse to kick ass for years!!! They came out with Balls…Ummmm…OK…Then there was talk of all the nike tech going over there…I’m saying? Whats the deal? I was in Foot Locker today and the casual wall is strong.

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It’s a wrap for performance Converse… And Reebok is going the training and crappy Swizz Beats rehash route and will eventually phase out basketball once John Wall’s contract is up or sooner. Hope Adidas pulls a Jordan and snatches him up before Nike. The basketball game has been reduced to Nike/Jordan, adidas, and Under Armour.

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mede, i so disagree am at a loss…it is funny how everybody else are/is the followers, but we are friggin’ social beings! part of how we understand the world comes from our peers. actual ‘sneakerheads’ are not being controlled by nike, only those who are only into retro/limited nikes & jordans are trapped in that cycle. i can’t fault nike for understanding what it is that a certain consumer wants. for those that have a true appreciation for sneakers, there are so many choices and deals open to them it is ridiculous.

i do think the rest of industry is at a bit of loss as to how to fight the nike behemoth…because the reality is it would be very difficult to out-nike, nike; and that IS what it will take to really challenge or unseat those guys. something people do not realize is that nike is very competitive at just about every level at every pricepoint in just about every category; that is a very expensive endeavor for these other brands who have to deliver earnings to their stockholders, you have to be willing to invest and FAIL. i so sick of the “quality” complaints & material criticisms, these are MASS-PRODUCED, HAND-MADE products assembled by multiple people; given that it is almost amazing how consistent footwear is. and as far as materials go most cannot even tell the difference between full-grain, split, & coated leathers, not that that is an excuse but seems like people feel like they have to talk about the how the quality is up to par to shoes they never wore or seen the og version of.

whether or not all of it is necessary, the thing with running is that there are DEDICATED running specialty stores, with people who are (or at least seem to be) knowledgeable(and somewhat unbiased) and have equipment and methods for recommending footwear ‘appropriate’ for your individual feet/foot, gait analysis, with different categories and needs; stability, flats, barefoot etc. and as such, it harder for one brand to dominate the conversation there, as there are informed people to go to for info & help and that knowledge get spread around.

contrast with just about every other category, these things do not exist. in basketball, no disrespect to counterkicks, sole collector, & the many youtube ‘reviewers’ but their reviews are not really vetted in the same way, there is much to authenticate or give any of these reviewer any authority whatsoever other than being a media outlet. most get their recommendations for the kid @footlocker who is prolly struggles to remember any of the functional details of the shoe and tells you ‘this one is best cuz it is (insert athlete here) wears it and/or their friends. and if a shoe looks good enough, most will put up with the irritation, pain until or unless it is unbearable. which is why there aren’t really any more ‘big man’ shoes, most kids even the big ones, don’t want to be that guy, which is why the mathematics has always been ‘big men don’t sell shoes.’

i just so sick of hearing people complain, especially because the topic usually centers around jordan & nike like they are the only brand that makes footwear, IF YOU DON”T LIKE THE WAY THEY ARE DOING THINGS AND WANT BETTER TAKE YOUR MONEY ELSEWHERE!!! these other brands could use the business, trust me when i say the people in the footwear industry is not about ripping people off, quite to the contrary there are plenty passionate people trying to deliver product that meets consumers needs for product. it is discussions like these, primarily focused on the good folk in beaverton, that are disheartening because instead of talking those dollars elsewhere, people just complain meanwhile still putting money in nike’s coffers…

definitely agree gilsonky, it is a shame that THE brand that has the longest basketball heritage, is almost completely irrelevant in the sport…

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Hoopfanatic shoots with two seconds on the clock…Hoopfanatic scores!!! I think you and Mede bring some very interesting points to light.

Oh by the way Ive gotten quiet a few contacts about this post not just online but also off from industry people and I WILL BE ADDRESSING THEM IN MY NEXT BLOG. Its funny how people can get upset with a opinion when their job is to create products for millions of people other than themselves. If my buddy Brett wrote a post about how much my body of work sucked I would be able to sit back in my rather expensive Reeboks I bout today and respect his opinion and converse. Trust me when I say don’t drink all the Kool Aid, I’m not saying anything you don’t already know…

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Hoopfanatic,

So you don’t think that sneaker heads are controlled by Nike and that they are still making high quality footwear, hoops shoes in particular, those that are both durable and well made, then even worth the price, correct?

How many people that you know, those who consider themselves “sneaker heads” actually got into “the game”, through the desire to obtain the Chuck Taylor or Adidas Superstar?

In regard to quality, tell me, is using plastic comparable to using real leathers, especially at a two hundred dollar price point?

Don’t give me some spiel about tech either.

I can understand the raising of those prices due to maintaining good product, all while using organic materials in shoes that will last more than a few weeks, like those from my teens, way back when I could play all summer in one pair of kicks, two tournament games a day, all outdoors mind you, then having them fully broken in for the Fall High School hoops workouts, that is until a new pair were brought out for the new season, beginning that cycle all over again.

I miss those days. But I understand that guys like me do not line the Nike coffers, even though it was guys like me, those who actually used the shoes for which they were intended, who helped Nike gain their rep as being one of the best in “the game”.

Just to be clear, I am not a sneaker head.

I am just a guy, one who has an appreciation for good shoes.

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Ok here is the deal Mede. Nike, HBO, George Clooney, Sarah Palin, Mickey Mouse, President Obama or even Santa Fuckin Clause himself don’t control anyone. We live in a era of free enterprise and free will.

Lets talk real shit for a second? Nike, adidas, UA, Skechers, etc are multi billion dollar companies. Yes they probably have enough money in the bank to not sell a shoe for ten years and still pay all their bills during that time but they like everyone else still have bills to pay. So lets be honest… if business is about profit they are gonna bust their ass to make a profit. If they can take a shoe that sold a million pairs ten years ago in which they have payed off the debt on the molds to the factory and only are paying to stitch fabric which is left over from shoes that did or didn’t work…THEY WILL DO IT!!! Its a insider word we call amortization.

Amortization can be a beautiful and profitable word. What it kinda means is that companies go to to a factory and say we think the new Air Profit is gonna sell 50,000 pairs!!! So the factory budgets for workers and shipping and expenses for 50,000 pairs. Well sometimes 50,000 turns into 20,000 so the factory is stuck with lines of credit, molds and sometimes materials for 30,000 budgeted pairs of shoes!!! What the hell are we gonna do says big company and the factory? Well seeing as how gas costs $4.50 a gallon for a single worker to get here to America and work everyday can you imagine what it costs for trucks and boats from here to China to get product to Foot Locker? Lets put a shoe that costed $80 in 1980 that we own the molds for out now at $180!!! We just doubled the profit and figured out how to get some loot to pay that big add firm that sucks and is ripping us off and made our factory happy!!! So Dec 18th comes around and were gonna release 15,000 pairs at double the profit with a line around the corner on Dec 17th. DO YOU HONESTLY THINK SAID COMPANY GIVES A FUCK ABOUT YOU OR YOUR SNEAKER LIFE!?! HELL NO MAN!!! The world is built on profit and choice. So once you as a consumer dictates and understands both you have the power to change. Much like voting. The electoral process is just as corrupt and fucked up as any other American institution however,”Men Lie, Women Lie, but Numbers Don’t.” So if you really want to know who controls Sneaker Heads its the Sneaker Heads!!! If you see a shoe that came out 50 years ago for 25 dollars and buy it for $150 you just disservice yourself and the hard working designers of today and gave up control ALL IN THE NAME OF PROFIT.

Mede I also appreciate good shoes, however I appreciate my intelligence to make my own and not media driven choices also. Its not Nike or anyone else’s decision at days end its ours. POWER TO THE SNEAKER HEAD!!! Or in your case shoe consumer extraordinaire.

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@mede not at all, like i said if you are really into sneakers like that you are aware that there is a world outside of jordan/nike…

as to the quality of footwear, YES i do think nike (as well as other brands) still make high quality product. in regards to ‘plastic’ on shoes, if you want performance synthetic materials can be made stronger, lighter, and more consistent than leather, are you aware of this? everyone has different experiences with product so i can’t really vouch for durability, but on the whole synthetic materials allow for many more possibilities. and as far as price goes, as i said before sneakers are fairly intensive/involved product to make, and with the rising cost of both labor, material, & transport they are only getting MORE expensive to make. not to mention the design, development, marketing, & research it takes to bring this product to market. consumers haven’t been paying the REAL cost of footwear for a LONG TIME, that is why it is made in asia. now i’m not sitting here telling you that $200 shoes are justified, but if the PERFORMANCE is the goal, and constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible, that stuff is going to cost…

now i’m not saying natural leathers are bad, but did you know that the cows (and they way they are currently handled in the agriculture/food & garment industries) are some of the LEADING causes of pollution? and most sneaker companies buy materials they don’t ‘make them. and the very thing that makes leathers nice to use, they form & stretch to conform to your foot, is exactly what may make it not as a good performance shoe because it eventually stretches out of shape with repeated use? that is the breaking in period you speak of. the footwear industry has on the whole done a terrible job educating the consumer…

i understand, i consider myself to be a sneaker connoisseur/enthusiast, but i’m not offended by the classification of sneakerhead. my appreciation & love came through basketball/sports, and it is from that perspective that i want to see progression. i hear what you are saying, i just do not agree that there is some conspiracy to defraud or trick people. is it perfect, no but what ever is? i just feel there is a bit of that nostalgic gleam to some of these criticisms of new product compared to that of yesteryear; it has that generational refrain of “yea but it was better in MY day” when the reality is, it prolly wasn’t.

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Dallas Stokes,

You underestimate the power of suggestion, then the need to belong and how those with low self esteem can be manipulated through marketing.

“You need this shoe, it will make you cool, people will look at your shoes while not paying attention to who you really are. You will break necks, all the guys will want to buy what you have, due to this limited edition item.”

Nike understands that these “sneaker heads” need to feel special, then not having what anyone else, the general public, has. They know that they can even cut corners while doing it.

“We don’t need a real carbon fiber plate! Just paint some plastic black! These guys don’t ball that hard anymore! They are, the shoes, are going to be wrapped in plastic then tucked away on a shelf! Don’t you see the pics on Sole Collector and Nike Talk?”

If I didn’t play hoops, I would not be into sneakers at all. If it were not for hoops, I’d have perhaps just one pair, probably a pair of Adidas’s Stan Smith, as they go with everything. That said, I’ve never lined up for a pair of shoes, and Nike realizes that nobody is sleeping on the streets for another company’s shoes. Do they have a right to create, then allow the hype to continue? Damned skippy! However, there is a backlash looming from consumers, those of us who do not want to be associated with such madness. There are also the parents, those much like myself, who are teaching their kids that this is not the way to go nor to behave, over a stupid pair of shoes. The story is being told that they are made in a factory by a person who makes no where near the street value of the shoe in a year, in particular, once it’s put up on Ebay.

Hoopfanatic,

You suggest that if you are a sneaker head, that you are aware of what the other companies are offering, right? But when you look at the people who are considered the ultimate “sneaker heads”, those who are at the pinnacle of which all should try and attain, because it is a “game”, do you see them shopping in places that sell, and then buying anything else other than Nike?

Do you see Fat Joe, one who isn’t so fat anymore, licking the soles of a pair of Pro Keds?

Nike knows that he is respected in YOUR, the “sneaker head” community, therefore, he will continue to be hooked up by Nike with one offs in his size, so that he can keep his position as the ultimate sneaker head, the level that only the true “sneakers heads” should clamor to be.

Nike is in control of these guys, you know it, and I know it. If you get outside of the bubble, then looking back inside, I am certain that you’ll find a different perspective.

In regard to high quality, durable high end hoops footwear and Nike, they are no longer synonymous.
Kid yourself if you want, but all you have to do is to go into any Pay Less store, then put your newer high end, high priced Nike hoops shoe, up next to their top brand, then tell me that there is a discernible difference in product, outside of the swoosh placement that is.

But should that make a difference?

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I think the idea of being a sneakerhead is just a part of pop culture now and trying to figure out the formula of what is and isn’t going to be successful is just a crap shoot for companies.

I think the way Nike handles it is by flooding the market. I don’t think anybody could have predicted the success of the Foamposite market a decade ago. It seemed like everyone wanted the blue “Penny” Foam’s but not much else and now look at them, they can’t miss. Every single colorway is huge for them. But then you look at a shoe like the Lunarflow that Nike put out a lot of media on last summer and it didn’t seem to take off in the states but in Europe that shoe is blowing up. My point is that Nike doesn’t completely know what is going to be successful, its kind of like the Kobe mentality; you keep shooting and eventually your going to have 50 points. Even if you take 40 shots.

Since I follow nearly every Nike media outlet Twitter I am amazed and how much they cater to creating the online hysteria of releases. For instance the 2012, a shoe that I do think is a good performing shoe (but no the best aesthetic ever) released the “Tinker” colorway the other day and judging by the Nikestore Twitter feed that shit sold out in hours. I couldn’t believe that.

This is the first time that I can remember that literally every week Nike is releasing a colorway of signature shoe. I can’t wait to see the final count of colorways of the Kobe VII after this season. What I would like to know is the amount they are producing of this shoe.

Sadly the consumer base doesn’t care about performance and I feel this mentality only seems to exist in the Basketball category. Runners, Football players and Baseball players need to look good but the number one reason for purchase is for function. Basketball has been purely style since the Blazer.

And Dallas, I don’t need to tell you this; but your comments on amortization are beyond spot on! And until we stop needing the XI that drops every holiday season this business moto will never go away because last years XI brought a quarter of Jordan Brand’s profit in one night that is at the end of the year. However said stop buying the product, is 100% correct but that won’t happen anytime soon.

My mentality as a designer is just do good work. You can’t control the emotional connection of the consumer but you can control what you create. If you are putting out product that doesn’t relate the market will let you know. Just keep shooting but take high percentage shots.

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B,
I agree that it is a crap shoot for most companies, but not as much for Nike. They understand the value of their back catalog, as with the XI, and they have places like Nike Talk and Sole Collector, where people can scream out for things to be retro’d, and they can also test the waters to find out if something will be hot, or not. Things are so good for Nike in this regard, the term sneaker has become synonymous with Nike. People who have no clue about branding, especially if they see a shoe that they may find interesting, may make the following comment.

“Is that Nike?”

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That’s a good point.

I guess in my eyes I feel outside of basketball they balance the level of retro and performance product well. For instance you would never see a Nike sponsored athlete at an event running in the Montreal Retro, you would/will see them in the upcoming FlyKnit but in basketball that doesn’t happen; especially in Jordan. Why is Wade wearing the XIV lately? I just seems opposite of what should be going on.

Use the Internet test the waters is great but I just wonder how much of the market is truly represented by the bloggers and hypebeasts? I am saying this as a general question, because I don’t know. I know they have power but how much?

For all the nostalgia that has been spoken about in this post and in the comments, I don’t really grasp what’s missing. To me it is still there. Is it being communicated in the same way? Of course not! This is 2012 and the world has dramatically changed since Weber and Payton were hanging out in a barbershop. It’s way more transparent now. As a business why would you spend millions of dollars on advertisements when you have Internet fanatics who advertise this shit for free?

To me what has changed is how “important” the product has become. The emphasis on story telling is too much now to the point where product is suffering. If it is not performing well then it shouldn’t rely on how it translates into a players personality. How it’s gotten to the point where we are now going to have a Penny V is beyond me. It’s a unique idea but it should be strictly branded in NSW and nowhere near the court and maybe it is but the point is the product is trying to be bigger than it is and that needs to stop because at the end of the day it’s just a shoe!

The formula needs tweaking and I think that has already started. We just need to stop over analyzing it. If you don’t like it, don’t support it and if you can do something to fix it, then fix it! Just do good work.

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Dallas, you kept it SO real…Hopefully I’ll get to work with you and John some day.

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Dallas, you kept it SO real…Hopefully I’ll get to work with you and John one day.

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Thank you San Dova!!! The world is smaller than you know…You never know what can happen… And thank you Brett for your input its respected and appreciated always.

I agree that things are still the same on the marketing side I just feel like the quality and coordination across the board is a bit questionable.

As far as the Sneakerhead thing it just pains me to see it being taken to such extremes. I know tons of shoe lovers and I feel that the whole thing needs to be put into a better perspective.

On another note, any designers offended by this post please quit your job. I have had my ass handed to my numerous times over 21 years and had to suck it up and move on. I sold over a million pairs of shoes for a company and four months later was told I need to step up my work or I would be fired. Thing is you either take a shot and keep moving or get knocked out dead center of the ring. My intention was not to attack any of you. I was speaking on the overall picture of the business and giving my opinion. Do you really think this post will change and destroy the shoe industry? Hell no. But if it offended you because you feel like you go to work and give it your all everyday I certainly understand that but also understand YOUR ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST SHOE. Now put your big boy pants on and tell coach I’m ready to get back in the game because I’m on another team so if your gonna put your towel over your head and cry in the fourth quarter on my plasma I’m gonna go Miami Heat on you and dance on the floor like Bron.

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I love and appreciate every opportunity this business has given me good or bad and even today its better than it ever was. However I don’t even drink to much of my own Kool Aid because at that point I’m not going to be effective or objective so I will not drink yours. I would never want to own a company of followers. Cutting me a check does not mean you own me it means I appreciate being payed and you appreciate my talent. If I disagree with something lets talk about it, if not I will move on to somewhere that I do agree with their philosophies. Happens all the time, its called growth or some call it divorce, I don’t know take your pick.

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Great article D… Good response to Allen. Not sure he know who u is and who the I know. Bless

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@Dallas you are dropping a lot of real knowledge, however let me address a couple things you wrote:

1. DO YOU HONESTLY THINK SAID COMPANY GIVES A FUCK ABOUT YOU OR YOUR SNEAKER LIFE!?! HELL NO MAN!!!

while i think i understand the sentiment behind this, i do think companies DO actually CARE about providing customers w/quality products FOR VALUE. for some that value comes from its performance, for some it is the looks, and for some it is the association with/cache of the brand. we all fall on different points on this spectrum at any given time, we’re not always so hardline to any one thing to the detriment of all the others.

2. I appreciate my intelligence to make my own and not media driven choices also. Its not Nike or anyone else’s decision at days end its ours. POWER TO THE SNEAKER HEAD!!! Or in your case shoe consumer extraordinaire.

i believe an important thing to point out, as i stated before, WE ARE SOCIAL BEINGS!!! while it is our decision, so much influences those decisions that we are unaware of…i think that is worth noting before putting others down for their choices …

@Mede, like i said before, those folk are jordan/nike heads just by virtue of only being into those brands; can you really be that into sneakers if you only own those 2 brands. not really sure what “the ultimate sneakerhead fat joe” has to do with what i said…yes, he is a celebrity, celebrities are visible people, visible people tend to be influential, influencers get seeded product. this isn’t just a “sneakerhead” thing; which i would add isn’t about being ultimate for everybody. as far as you nike Vs. payless comparison…c’mon son, that is such an overstatement i can’t even take you serious anymore…you win

@B i definitely think the sneakerhead thing has become much more accepted, i can remember when most people thought it crazy to wear even an old COLORWAY, much less an older model! it was ALWAYS about the new thing. it is still about the next thing but unfortunately the new thing is the old thing now. and i FIRMLY believe the reason storytelling has become SO important (and it always was a apart of mix) is because there TOO MUCH PRODUCT. it is becoming increasingly difficult to really make the distinction between normal & “special.”

and i make that point about the foamposite 1 all the time, i have had EPIC discussions about the relevance of that shoe. the point you are making is very valid, i they may not know what will ultimately be successful but i do think they have a good understanding of what certain types of consumers want; and they never really go outside of their core beliefs.

not sure that it is that the consumer base no longer case about performance, just that performance is taken for granted. performance is EXPECTED, and since we have come to see product as some sort of expression or extension of who we are; in a way it makes sense that retro stuff would be doing better than the new stuff. you said it right, just do good work, that is definitely a good way to approach it; the issue is how much the team you work with is open to good work…

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LOL@ Hoopfanatic!

Trust “son”, if I could post pics on this blog of one Payless shoe in particular against the original Hyperrise, you and everyone else here would be shocked at the similarity in materials used, and then the quality of build.

Also. I am not here to “win” anything.

I am just adding to the discussion from the perspective of someone who does not want to be involved in the sneaker industry, then speaking as a consumer.

Here’s something for you to ponder, some would say that the best player on Nike’s roster with a sig, wears a ninety five dollar shoe.

So yeah, perhaps I do “win”.

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Mede, great point about Durant but don’t think for a second that there hasn’t been conversations within Nike to take that price higher. Wade started out cheap on Converse because he came from a rough background and was so “humble” and nice that he couldn’t handle having an expensive shoe for “his” community but now look at him pushing $150 Jordan’s.

Durant will eventually hit $110. I don’t see it going above it until Kobe retires in the next three to five years. He already jumped from $85 to $95 and while that is not dramatic it isn’t unforeseeable to see them pushing it higher gradually. Imagine when the Lebron line is consistently $200 when the consumer sees the Durant at $110 it will be game over, nothing different than now.

@Hoopfanatic, you are completely right man! I can remember when somebody had the old model in school you always gave them shit! Now its like an aged wine or something, people are excited that they have the 2003 Retro as opposed to the 2011 retro because “they are different.” It’s not a bad that this is going on, it is just bad when it becomes the focal point of the company.

But on the opposite side of things, how can we blame the companies? They are a business and if it makes profit then why not sell it? It’s not Nike’s fault that the consumer wants to associate with the past. Nike doesn’t do any print ads or commercials for the retro product, but blogs pump the hell out of it. We also have to remember how niche of a market the retro market is. It is huge to us because we immerse ourselves in this culture. One of Nike’s top selling shoes this past year was the Free Run 2 and the Free Run 3 is projected to be the top selling shoe this year for them. So if anything it’s the consumers fault. Like it was said earlier, if you don’t want it then don’t buy it.

The next few years in footwear are going to be interesting because there will be a true blend of digital technology. It will be an all new “wow” factor for the consumer base. I will also be interested to see how to consumers take to “crocheted” footwear with FlyKnit. Hopefully they don’t relate it to a bad gift from their grandmother.

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just want to say this has been a great discussion here, a respectful exchange of ideas; this is what the internet is suppose to be!

@Mede i think the hyperize (no disrespect to the designer[leo chang?]) but that design was prolly just flawed to begin with; the only really supportive piece or ‘tech’ was the molded external heel counter/cup, made fairly traditionally, it wouldn’t take much to knock that off. and no disrespect to you but there is a WHOLE INDUSTRY adjacent to footwear of just materials, and just because the materials had a ‘shocking similarity’ doesn’t mean they actually are/were the same. there are so many levels based on many different factors (durability, performance, price, etc.) Dallas gave you a real world business example of how a sneaker comes to market, it involves upfront costs, not every shoe, that the big brands make are profitable nor is every shoe they make at the cutting edge. however at full capability, and i’m sure Dallas could vouch for this, there is a BIG difference as to what is available to and what is possible between the big brands (which are also stratified by capability) and a ‘payless’ type of manufacturer; that ‘payless’ brand will ALWAYS be able to ‘approximate’ a look, but please do not confuse or conflate the similarity for equal/equal quality.

and what is interesting about the kd sig, while i guess you could make the argument that durant is the best player on the nike roster (by the way, ANYONE who makes that argument should DEFINITELY have their head checked!) he definitely has not been elevated to a d.rose/lebron/kobe level as a pitchman yet (and it is also worth noting that the special edition version(s) of his shoes did eclipse the $100 mark after starting @$85 as B stated) i wondering what you think durant playing in a $95 means, does it speak to their ability to make well performing footwear or their inability to sell them for more? it can’t be stressed enough that, and this is what is so impressive about what nike does, they make competent product for just about every activity & sport, from ‘high-low’ price to super high end product while maintaining its image, that is no small feat both image wise and from a technical aspect (just look at UA). compared to brands like apple & jordan, who keep their pricepoints high to maintain that air of exclusivity & uniqueness.

@B i definitely do not think it is a bad thing that the mentality has changed, if anything it may be for the better because it has forced consumers to EVALUATE why they are buying the shoes in the 1st place. in the 90′s and 00′s we were buying a lot of basketball shoes, that were not explicitly to play ball in; the evolution of that is where we are now with retros dominating, they have the both context to be casual while still being purpose built (albeit outdated), while most can really only see function when looking at the current crop of sneakers.

remember that a big part of this sneaker thing (where’d you get those by bobbito garcia is a great book if you are interested in sneaker culture, by the way) getting to be what it is, was the concept of shoes ‘going away.’ before, when brands kept making a single model for years, people where loyal to those models, that brands started to continually change/and or update models to where some few individuals would ‘hunt’ for the model/version they loved; however the VAST MAJORITY were FORCED to move on just by virtue of that model was DISCONTINUED—(remember this would be in the eastbays)—so most just made a decision based on whatever the offering was at the time. fast forward to now, when there is an pretty unprecedented level of choice not only with current models but also back catalogs…people are reverting to that loyalty to particular models, which is why i feel the storytelling has become more & more important, the retro stuff comes witha built in story as well as being familiar, while new product has to be understood and may challenge what people are used to.

the next few years should indeed be very interesting, nike is doing some very dope things, but they also seem to be willing to ask for much more of the consumers both intellectually and by way of hard earned cash, will this backfire on them? adidas definitely is the likely challenger, but to me the, fact that they are a european company almost precludes them from challenging nike in the ways probably necessary for them to really move on them. who knows what converse, puma & reebok are doing. UA is writng its own history right now though it seems to be following the nike blueprint, which i guess has its upside, but the fundamental question for them is probably how they can up their expertise and make themselves different from nike…

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hoopfanatic,

You are starting come off as some sort of apologist for Nike, which leads me to not take you seriously, therefore YOU win.

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@Mede, if saying that nike(or any other brand for that matter) makes exceptional product is being an apologist…i guess i’ll have to be that. i’m not saying everything they do is great, but what you are saying is that these companies that essential make knockoff stuff is COMPARABLE in terms of quality/performance to what the bigger brands do; i just know that to be untrue. yes, a good deal of the costs can be attributed to marketing/manipulation/strategy but that doesn’t make the product (and the work it took to create it) invalid. that is what you are missing, its like people that bash apple without admitting the make great product; that they do an excellent job in selling it seems to be the thing that rubs people the wrong way.

like people have said, its business. their job is to sell product, i’m not one to blame corporations for societies ills. yes these brands use whatever cards they have to move their wares, but to say it again that does not make the product any less good. the air jordan 2012, is a serious shoe that it seems a lot of thought went into. the adidas crazylight, is a process intensive shoe that challenges traditional shoemaking. so it makes sense that the pricepoints are creeping upward (and as a result of the rising cost of doing business in china, which isn’t really said enough about because people really do not care how product is made or what it takes to for it to reach them, which is why so many of our goods are made in china), now are prices totally justified? that is for consumers to decide.

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hoopsfanatic,

When one suggests “exceptional product”, I guess that your standards for what is exceptional, totally differs from my own. While good looks are important for me, useful durability is what makes a product exceptional in my eyes, and this is where Nike fails, dramatically. Take a look at the Kobe line, then take a look at the issues with their so called cushioning systems that fail after a few wearings. The hyperdunk line is pathetic in regard to durability. So, when you look at the prices of these products, only a fool would think that a modern shoe by Nike is worth a two hundred dollar price tag, especially if you know that they will last about as long Magic Johnson’s late night talk show career.

To be quite honest, the only thing that Nike is exceptional at doing, is making people THINK that they still make exceptional products.

Nothing personal, but it has obviously worked on you.

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@Mede i design footwear as my day(& often night) job, so i do have a vested interest in this discussion. although i do not work @nike, i can admit they make SOME dope stuff…so does ascis, adidas, puma, etc. i recognize/understand that the things that i as a designer appreciate & think valuable differ from what a consumer may appreciate & value. obviously you do not see much value & cannot appreciate the current materials/processes being used on modern shoes. should the industry just stop trying to re-imagine what footwear is/can be, and just use traditional materials? again i’m not saying nike is infalible, they do make a lot of junk, nor am i even saying that the bulk of their product is exceptional; but when i look at the top of their range there is some impressive work being done there. and if you can’t understand the nuance of that position…

look at exotic sports cars, they are uber expensive, often made of composite material in lieu of sheet metal, have large powerful engines, are pretty impractical for street use or in the hands of a novice driver, they tend not to be very comfortable, they can be very expensive to maintain, etc., etc. now most people will tell me that the exercise, of creating these types of vehicles is vain, wasteful, and not worth their exorbitant price; that does not make the work & craft it took to make those types of vehicle invalid. there will be a few that just appreciate the beauty of those cars, even fewer that know & can appreciate all that those cars are & represent.

and to take this analogy a step forward, you have people that wax poetic on the vehicles of a foregone era, and remark how much better the cars of that time were compared to what we have now. subjectively that may be true, they appreciate the aesthetic of certain eras more or the quirkiness/personality of the cars then; but under ANY objective metric cars of today are so much better than their older counterparts.

now to bring it back to footwear, i liken that analogy to ‘oldheads’ talking about their footwear of yesteryear when shoes were made of the finest leathers, seamed together by italian crafts(wo)men, midsoles were as stiff bricks, and no one was ever swayed by marketing hype because everyone lived in their own personal vacuum…

yes, if anyone believes nike makes great product, they obviously just lack the mental facility to think for themselves(/sarcasm)…this type of criticism is the most shortsighted, marketing has always been a powerful tool; that hasn’t changed. we just live in a much more connected world, what used to be confined to neighborhoods & cities has just expanded, add to this there seem to be an endless amount of choice (meaning more opportunities to get it ‘wrong’) and it is very understandable why people are leaning on the co-signed brands. it isn’t people being sheep, it IS people being people; especially when you’re young your peers play a big part on how you see the world. the more diverse your peers and experiences are the more diverse you, potentially, will be in turn.

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You guys really do bring up some interesting points.

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Hoopfanatic,

I appreciate that you may work in the footwear industry, and that does give you a bit of insight in regard to the materials being used, and then the business in general. However, it seems that your position does not allow you to take a peek from the mindset of the consumer, those that actually use the product for which it was intended.

Since you like to use analogies, here’s one for you.

In music, Jazz in particular, an artist like Miles Davis understood that you could not play something that was way too far above the listeners head. However, artists like Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane in his latter years, alienated many followers of the music, as they went somewhere that most casual listeners of Jazz, could not hear.

Many wanted to listen, but it was Miles who understood that the grandiose pomposity associated with an artist, one who only wanted his audience to understand him, is what can destroy your connection with the common fan. Understanding this is what allows Miles’s Kind Of Blue to still be the best selling jazz recording of all time. This doesn’t mean that Miles didn’t continue to innovate and evolve, pushing the music even further, as Jazz is all about improvisation, but you cannot forget the people who actually LISTEN and then understand the music, not simply following trends, those attempting to be cool.

Miles hated phoney people like that, he actually turned his back on them when he played live.

Nike is trying to make that paper, and I understand that, nothing wrong there. Perhaps Nike is trying to make another market, disposable performance footwear sold at a high price perhaps?

I don’t know, but it seems to me that with all this hype and appeal to people who do not use the shoes for which they were intended, they’ve simply forgotten about the common folk who simply want something well made, durable, then worth the dollar spent.

Kind Of Blue, dope recording. I have worn out about six copies in twenty years. Each time I listen, it sounds as fresh as the day it was recorded.

If you haven’t, check it out.

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