Competing Against Air Jordan

Sarang Ahuja’s latest post:


Since the early 90s, the world has been infatuated with the idea of flying in the air. No, I am not talking about literal flight. Instead, I’m talking about soaring through the court like one of the most undoubtedly best NBA player of all time, Michael Jordan.

Ever since they went into product in 1984, the Air Jordan brand and athletics clothing design has dominated the sneaker athletics industry with their lavish designs, celebrity popularity, and iconic ‘Michael Jordan Dunk’ logo. For Michael, he marketed it in the best possible way; it was a way to give his fans an opportunity to look, feel, and play like he did on and off the court. The popularity of the shoes continued as Michael flourished at the game, winning six NBA championships, five NBA Most Valuable Player titles, and countless on-the-court moments that continue to astonish and awe the fans of today. With his lasting impression of the game, Air Jordan was able to boost its brand from a simple basketball shoe to an internationally acclaimed athletic and Hip Hop brand.


While it is hard not to associate any sport, especially basketball, without the Air Jordan brand, many people have started to spark various controversies about the Nike sister shoe. One of those critics is ex-NBA player and Beijing basketball superstar, Stephon Marbury. In 2006, Marbury partnered with Steven & Barry’s to promote a line of shoes and clothing bearing his nickname, ‘Starbury.’ While the design and look mirrored that of his counterparts, like Air Jordan, the biggest differentiator was the price. For years, Air Jordan has produced, marketed, and sold their sneakers for over $150 US Dollars. Because of its attachment to lower income communities, Marbury wanted to provide the basketball fans with affordable athletic basketball shoes, which were sold for $14.98. While his intensions meant well, the brand itself failed in the United States, but was salvaged when he moved to China.

Today, Marbury is back in the United States to bring back his Starbury sneaker line, which he hopes to sell for $15.00 a pair. He believes he can provide these affordable shoes at the same level and quality as Air Jordans and other brands whose prices are driven up by celebrity endorsement. For him, the mission is simple. These shoes are meant to give the lower-income and under-resource communities the cheaper and more financial option of buying quality shoes for them and their children. The ‘shoe-related crime’ is something that has been overlooked year after year and will only continue if markets such as Nike, Air Jordans, Adidas, and Under Armour continue to raise the prices for every new pair each and every year. While there are no statistical ‘on-shoe-related crime’ to back up these claims, the popular infused idea of buying these expensive shoes are clearly seen within the athletics, entertainment, and music industry.

Though Marbury was able to spark the concept of corporate social responsibility within this fruitful market, Nike has still not responded directly to Marbury’s comments. All we can do now is wait and see how the public will react to the resurrected the Starbury line and if Marbury’s ideals can crack the corporate greed within the shoe industry.


from Sarang Ahuja | Finance


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