I think we live in a society that is always in a time crunch. We have access to information right away, we expect things in very timely manner. If you see a trailer, you want to know when the movie comes out; if you see a video game preview, you want to know when you can play it; you see someone wearing something, you want to know where you can get it. Everything is very hurry up and wait, and sneaker releases fit into that mentality. It’s understood from a business stand point, it’s all about supply and demand. They want customers to think there is a limited quantity, encouraging the belief that people need to buy their products right away. That’s fine, because it is a business and profit matters, but at some point, companies need to take a hard look and decide for themselves, is this worth it? When you have adults and children hurting or killing each other over shoes, you have a problem. Two years ago, there was a guy who purchased a pair of Jordans. A few days later, he was found dead, and shoeless. It’s not a coincidence that Adidas decided to introduce more Yeezys. They were likely looking to avoid this problem. GQ did an investigation that found an estimated 1200 people die every year over shoes. In a documentary called Snearkerheads, they suggested that marketing hype was behind some of the violence. Mike Epps said, “it didn’t surprise me that kids would become violent and really ferocious about these shoes, because of the way companies market them, they market them as if they are the dream.”
I say all this because in our society we are privileged to understand that time is limited resource. And because of that, we have expectations of getting something and getting it quickly. There’s a reason why Amazon Prime is popular. And as a purveyor of Prime, I know I’ve gotten upset because an item didn’t arrive in two days. Because of this expectation, and because of the knowledge we have surrounding shoe releases, we have the assumption that we will be able to acquire that item. What is frustrating is having your calendar set, knowing a shoe is releasing, and not being able to purchase because an arbitrary quantity has been made. Not only is there an arbitrary amount available, it is known that people are purchasing these and reselling them for twice the original amount. Then that same company will turn around and do a re-release. For example, Kevin Durant’s KD 12 90’s Kid, had a release date of May 3rd. Some websites said go to the Nike app store to purchase the shoe. Nike themselves only advertised the Black and White colorway. Various blogs discussed the different colorways, when the shoes would be released, but somehow Nike did not have the shoes. 90s kid colorway is my current most sought after shoe. I’ve purchased many shoes from the Nike store app, Lebrons, KD 11, Kyries, etc. with no issue. But for some reason, the rollout for the KD12 has been the most confusing and frustrating experience.
Damian Lillard released a specialty Dame 5 for Black History Month. You go on the Adidas app, or their website, and probably some select stores, and you could easily purchase them. For some reason, Nike, the biggest shoe company right now had such a confusing and frustrating roll out, you will see numerous people on social media asking Nike where they can buy the shoes. You have consumers, such as myself, willing and able to buy these shoes but they can’t do it. My wife has learned release dates because of my incessant discussion of shoes. She texted me on May 3rd letting me know she couldn’t find the KD shoes. I went on Twitter to find out what the issue was, because they were not on the Nike app. No explanation. One tweet saying go to the SNRKS app. They were not on that app either. The only information available said the release date is May 3rd, but they were no where to be found. A few days later, they announced they restocked the shoes on their SNRK app, but when I checked they were sold out. As a consumer, I’m willing to accept products sell out, but I also want the opportunity as a consumer to have a chance to purchase items. Now, I’m forced to look elsewhere on third party websites. Instead of ordering through Nike, a company I know and trust, I now have to proceed through other channels, potentially an untrusted, marked up source. Further, apart from knowing the release dates, the roll out has been very confusing. When I purchased other Nike products, I could find the shoe and various colorways in one place. When I have to hunt down your products due to unclear communication, that’s not great business. Imagine if McDonald’s said you have to go to one location for a Big Mac, but a completely different location if you want nuggets. Consumers would probably get fed up and stop buying as much. At the end of the day, the consequences of this are not just surface level want, there are much broader repercussions. Consumers are hurting and sometimes killing over getting rare products, and not mention overpaying third parties. Not only do these brands have the ability to stop social chaos, but they are also missing out on a lot of profit. It’s something these companies need to address, because these actions have drastic social consequences. You shouldn’t want people fighting over your products, make them available to your consumers and stop causing this social turmoil. At least provide your consumers with some basic customer service and let them know the information they need to make a purchase from your stores and get better community management for your social platforms.
I love fashion, I love shoes, and I get excited about new releases and seeing athletes debut their new shoe. I want to see companies get excited about bringing out these shoes in an accessible way. Stop unnecessarily making consumers go to insane lengths to obtain the product. Let your customers know what you’re doing and provide the products to meet demand. For most products you buy, you can get it from the store for a regulated price, sneakers seems to be the exception here and shoes become rare due to companies unnecessarily creating hierarchy and rarity among products. While you can never entirely stop bullshit that happens over consumer greed, you can at least try to minimize the amount of damage that can happen. It’s not worth it.