Can Someone Please Tell Me Why Sneakers Cost So Much Damn Money?


I try to be mindful (annoyingly mindful, according to some of my friends) not to allow nostalgia or an emotional connection to the past cloud my assessment of the present. One, because people are usually wrong about that stuff, and I enjoy not being wrong. It's fun. But also, remembering the past in an historical sense is necessary. The "back and the day when things were better" game, however, isn't just (usually) wrong. It's fucking boring. I agree with Tony Soprano. "Remember when" truly is the lowest form of conversation.


And, as a self-appointed guardian of the present, if someone says something like "Drake wouldn't have survived in the 90s" within earshot, I feel duty bound to reply "Um, Coolio sold a trillion records and won a damn Grammy in the 90s. Drake would have been fine."

Same goes with sports (because if you watched and assessed 90's basketball with 35-year-old eyes instead of 15-year-old eyes, your feelings about those guys would probably be different), kids today, and even crime (because murder rates have actually dropped tremendously since the early 90s).


That said, there's one place where I will never not be convinced that things are totally, absolutely, 100% worse than they were back in the day. And that place is the display rack at Foot Locker or Champs or Finish Line or wherever the hell else sneakers are sold today. Now, compared to when I was in high school and college, sneakers themselves come in bolder colors. Kids today apparently love two things: Big Sean and color-blocking. But, aside from them maybe being a bit lighter, they haven't changed much structurally. High tops are still high. Low tops are low. And Adidas hoop sneakers will still tear your ACL. But, HOLY F*CKING SHIT!!! WHEN DID THEY GET SO GOTDAMN EXPENSIVE????? I remember when the only shoes consistently above $100 were Jordans, Foamposites, and maybe a random signature shoe like the Penny Hardaways or the Iversons. Now, every single athletic sneaker seems to be $120-plus, with some even getting up to $275. That's two hundred and seventy five actual American dollars.

I became acutely aware of this horrible, terrible, reprehensible trend of sartorial shittiness earlier this week, as I went to Villa to find a replacement for my hoop shoes — a pair Nike Zoom HyperRevs I kept so long that they literally exploded on my feet. After picking up a couple pair of Kobes, a couple pair of Durants, and a couple pair of Lebrons, I had to sit for few minutes to stop myself from cackling uncontrollably at the audacity of these bastards actually expecting people to pay cheap cruise ship ticket prices for freakin sneakers. I didn't even bother turning my head in the direction of the Jordan Brand section. I've never had an epiphytic shock seizure, and I don't want to start now. I eventually settled on the Kyrie All-Stars, which I copped for the (relatively) low price of $120.

Now, I'm aware inflation exists. Everything from electric bills to lapdances generally cost more now than they did 20, even 10 years ago. Because Obama. But sneaker inflation seems to be playing by a different set of rules. And I hate their rules. Their rules suck. This is some CFL shit. Let me put it this way: A base model 2015 Honda Accord is $22,000. Now, I'm not sure how much a 1995 Accord cost, but I'm sure the price has increased since then. I'm also certain the Honda people didn't have this conversation in 1995:

"What should our business plan be for the next 20 years?"

"I think the Accord is fine as is. Doesn't need many more features. Maybe just some bold and exciting colors."


"Great! Any other ideas?"

"Let's gradually triple the price and just hope no one will notice we've changed nothing other than the variety of Crayons our design people use."



What the hell, man? What happened? Why it happen? Can it happen again? Can someone answer any of these questions? Or are you still in a state of shock, as I am, that Darth Phil Knight has convinced us all that $7 worth of branded and disposable material is worth a quarter of a kidney?

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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