It can be expensive to be cool.
It can be expensive to be cool.
When I was growing up, you weren’t in the “it” club unless you had Jack Purcell Converse sneakers. I was never in the “it” group. I was never cool.
My grandmother, Big Mama, raised me, and on her salary as a nursing assistant she couldn’t afford to outfit me or my two brothers and two sisters in any brand-name shoes or clothes.
But feeling like an outcast simply because I couldn’t afford the “right” things only made me stronger. It made me frugal, and it makes me feel sorry for the parents who can’t afford such items but nonetheless pay handsomely for their children to have whatever the “it” item happens to be.
This summer the “it” thing is the LeBron X Nike Plus, named after star basketball player LeBron James. The shoe will likely retail for just under $300, reports ESPN.
Nike says the shoe’s technology helps push the cost so high – apparently, the shoe can measure how high you jump, reports Shelly Banjo for the Wall Street Journal.
Stephen Crockett, a regular contributor to The Washington Post’s The Root DC, says Nike isn’t just hustling sneakers, “it trades in cool.”
“You see, trading in cool comes at a cost,” Crockett writes. “The price is the financial well-being of those who line Nike’s soles and those who keep Nike paid and those who are willing to rob and steal just to be the king. The economy continues to fall apart, unemployment rates are through the roof and Nike knows that the kids are strung out. So they just keep mass marketing high-priced cool to those who can’t afford it.”
Crockett points out that kids have been beaten and robbed for their high-priced cool sneakers.
Two teenagers were arrested this week after cutting a hole in the roof of a mall in Houston to steal Nike Air Jordan sneakers, ABC News reported.
Limited editions of Nike sneakers, such as the LeBron X Nike Plus, are often bought and resold for as much as $1,000, the report said. Stores have faced incidents of violence and long lines as fans wait hours for a limited number of the coveted sneakers.
Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, also has weighed in on the issue. “To release such an outrageously overpriced product while the nation is struggling to overcome an unemployment crisis is insensitive at best,” Morial said. “It represents twisted priorities and confused values.”
Morial urged parents and the company to “Just don’t do it,” playing on Nike’s famous “Just do it” ad slogan.
On the other hand, should we blame a retailer for pushing expensive stuff on consumers?
Nope, according to Deron Snyder, whose Loose Ball column appears regularly on The Root.
“Some folks behind the steering wheels of luxury sedans can barely keep food on the table,” Snyder says in another Root opinion piece. “Some folks who live in gorgeous mini-mansions can barely pay their other bills. Some folks who regularly buy expensive clothes, make expensive hair-care appointments and drink expensive cups of coffee can barely make ends meet. Is that the fault of the automakers, builders, designers, stylists and baristas? Of course not. Likewise, no one should blame Nike and LeBron James if their exorbitantly priced sneakers land on the feet of people who really can’t afford them.”