(Apologies for being out of the loop…I’m in the middle of a move and I spent a night in the hospital and my internet has been down so timing has been tough.)
(I’ve been struggling to write this stupid post for at least a week. And I’m not proud of the final product. At all. This article sucks. But I still feel like it has to go out. I’ve been writing a bit, then I erase it, then I write something similar using different language and then I erase it again. It’s really dumb because, for someone who says ‘I don’t care’, I obviously care enough to sit here day after day trying to write this. I suppose I’ll always care about shoes, but I don’t care about what it’s become and I don’t for where it’s going. I care about my place in it and I care about what I do in it, but the fact is this type of shit makes me feel like I’m getting played. It makes me feel like I’m just an idiot for even writing all of this.)
The other day, a non-sneakerhead friend from the past reached out to me:
(the blocked out part is the name of his wife).
That last line…’I don’t care if they are fakes'
This a guy - I actually consider him slighly more ‘style-concious’ than myself - he’s a bit older than me but is more ‘on trend’ for our age demographic than I am. He shops at The Gap and J. Crew, I’m sure. Whereas I spent the majority of my time looking for old Nike, Levi’s, North Face & Polo stuff at thrift stores.
Back to the point - At first I wasn’t all that suprised to hear this. And I’m not, really. He’s asked me where to locate certain real shoes in the past, but this is the first time he skipped over all of the ‘where can I find some cheap real blahblahblahs’ and wen’t straight for ‘where can I get some good fakes?’ I’ve had non-sneakerhead friends tell me ‘I don’t care if I got fakes’ before and Iunderstand it. Like…if my Ksubi buddy told me I was rockin fake Ksubi’s I wouldn’t give a shit in the least. Or if I had some fake sunglasses that were comfortable and I liked the way they looked - I probably wouldn’t care much. So what makes shoes any different?
This stuff is just so stupid, that we’ve got people who really don’t care about this stuff in the least knowing that it’s easier to look for fakes than it is real pairs. In what other industry are we seeing that? I don’t know anyone who only marginally cares about something asking where to find the best fakes. I don’t know any other industry in which it’s normal to just say ‘fuck the source, fuck the resellers, lemme get straight to the fakes.’ Maybe handbags? I don’t know…
The biggest headlines from the last two weeks reads: “Two Bots Score 200+ Pairs of Travis Scott x Fragment x Air Jordan 1s” and I am so uniterested. I am so uninterested, in fact, that I won’t even bother reading the article to be better informed about this post. I’m interested enough to think about it and to write about it, but I’m wholly uninterested in the shoe. And the environment surrounding it. The subheading gives us a bit more information - Apparently, these two botters created 57,000 ‘raffle’ entries for the Travis Scott x Fragment x Nike Jordan 1 High and hit on a couple hundred. (I’ve messed with the bots before and found absolutely zero success. I thought, ‘hey, I can build a website, maybe I can figure out a bot’. Not the case at all. I could barely even get it running.).
But. It makes me wonder - ‘what is the point in actually caring about these releases?’
Why would anybody spend their waking hours essentially trying to play the lotto? Why would they set alarms and alerts and ‘interact with the app’ to try to ‘win’ the ‘opportunity’ to buy something that they have virtually no chance of owning?
From what I can tell, it seems there are only a couple of types of people who really care about these releases…these are:
(1) The type of person that makes money off of these releases - resellers, sneakerlebrities, shoetubers, sneaker media and other random ‘influencers’.
(2) The type of person that cannot see this for what it really is - an absolute shameless marketing ploy. These are the same people who will absolutely never own these shoes but somehow think that owning them will enhance their lives in some meaningful way.
Are there people in between?
Doubtful. Find me one person who ‘really actually like(s) these’. Find me one person who somehow still gets amped on a 36-year-old silhouette in a familiar colorway and I’ll show you someone who is either lying to you or lying to themselves. Yes, I’m saying that anyone who tells you that they have to have these purely for aesthetic reasons is either knowingly or unknowingly full of shit. Why? Because there are literally hundreds if not thousands of sneakers that look nearly the exact same at an absolute fraction of the cost.
If you can’t tell…it bothers me. It doesn’t bother me like ‘oh I couldn’t get these’ it bothers me like ‘oh you must think I’m an idiot.’ And you must think I’m an idiot like every other day because this seems to be how it’s been going for the past 5 years. It bothers me, again, because I feel like we’re all just getting played. And there’s this massive money machine behind the whole thing and it’s making us all out to look like some fucking idiots. And we are falling RIGHT into it. As stupid as it sounds, I feel like they’re going to write about the approach Nike has taken in economics books and business books. Common sense (and economics) would say that everyone in the situation would benefit from higher supply. Not ADIDAS-level supply, but increased supply. An equilibrium where supply meets demand. Or, at least, in the ballpark. But here we have the biggest clothing company in the world purposefully stifling demand to such an extent that I’d be shocked if more than 1/100th of 1 percent of the people that tried to buy these were actually able to purchase these.
Maybe it’s why sex sells beer. And most big instagram accounts are actually just ‘paid promotions’. And maybe it’s why the allure of adventure sells cars. And those washboard abs sell exercise gear. Nike x Travis Scott x Jordan x Fragment is selling a dream. Nike is selling aspirations.
I was watching Hulu the other day and this new car commercial came on and, as I was watching it, I was thinking… nobody in the world is going to drive this car in that environment. It’s not the first time I ever had that thought. Like EVERY car commercial I have ever seen has been some version of this exact same commercial…some brand new truck towing another truck flying 75 mph down some dirt road kicking up all types of dust. I know a lot of people who own trucks like this. And I don’t know a single one of these people that drives like this - who drives like this?
It had me thinking…
Nike is selling us a similar dream. They’ve intentionally structured it so that regular people cannot buy their most ‘coveted’ models. They’ve created artifical scarcity. And the blogs and news outlets are getting paid hand over fist for pushing these 'coveted’ models because they’ve somehow bridged an emotional connection in our minds to get us to click on it. And everyone just seems to ‘covet’ these models. For no reason. Other than the fact that everyone says they’re ‘coveted.’ I mean, do you really ‘covet’ this model? If so, why? Be honest - if this shoe wasn’t marketed as this ‘coveted’ item - would it be all over the blogs? Would celebrities and influencers have to stunt? Would regular-ass people be dropping $2K on this 36-year old white and black and blue shoe?
It’s all horseshit.
An aside: The last pair of shoes I was actually excited about - I randomly saw on the ‘explore’ page of IG. I thought it was a mockup. I missed the release date. By at least a week. Maybe a month. And that was fine because no one else cared about them. And I took my time to search for them to find the best deal and I STILL ended up overpaying for them because they only released in Europe. And then I bought them, and they were too small (damn Nike Air Max sizing inconsistencies), so I bought another pair. And then a few weeks later they ended up on StockX for roughly half of what I paid for ‘em. And I’m still kinda kicking myself for it. I thought I had been patient…but apparently, I hadn’t been patient enough. Is that what Nike wants? A quiet consumer? Someone who purchases something and doesn’t tell anyone about it? Or would they prefer a loud, would-be non-consumer? Someone who tries to purchase something but spends far more time talking about why they can’t purchase something than actually purchasing it?
Do you know how I know it’s all horseshit?
Because on any given day, there are probably 50 similar styles of a very similar shoe with slightly different details that sheep could find for less than $100. And it appears that nobody cares.
Because Nike isn’t artificially stifling supply.
Because the blogs aren’t writing about it.
Because the shoelebrities aren’t making money off of it.
Because the sheep aren’t clicking it.
There is no money to be made on shelf models.
But you know what? They exist. And there are PLENTY of them out there. All you gotta do is turn off Instagram.
If you’re upset you didn’t ‘hit’ on any of these Travis Scotts, just remember that you weren’t supposed to hit. Because a loud non-consumer is much better for business than a quiet consumer. And don’t worry because a few pieces of rubber, leather and glue aren’t really going to give your life any more meaning than it already has.