Friday, January 7, 2011

Where Did The Quality Go? (OG vs Retro)

Poor Buggin' Out. His OG Cement IVs would fetch upwards of $1,000, if he kept 'em in the shoebox. 
Like any upcoming business, there is an initial business model. A plan of what they want to accomplish as a company and how they will do it. But to be a successful business, you have to understand when the business model has to change and adapt. Inflation rates, cost of production, differing trends, all contribute to why a company would alter a model. 
After doing a little research, on the subject. I recently examined Nike/Jordan's business model. As a young consumer, we want the most bang for our buck. That means quality. Nowadays, many sneakerheads complain of the slowly degrading quality of Nike/Jordan's product. For a good minute, I was one of those people with a complaint of my own. But when I stepped back and looked at things from a businessman's point of view, I saw why they shifted. 

Nike established itself as the pinnacle of quality and technology at the forefront of athletic equipment back in the 80s and 90s. The purpose of their sneakers were for athletic usage, so they were designed as high quality training equipment for the sports enthusiast. But because of the onset of Hip Hop music in the 80s and 90s, sports gear including footwear became part of the everyday culture and fashion. 

As sneakers continued to disappear from store shelves, consumers realized that if they didn't purchase more than 1 pair of their favorite kicks, they may never get the chance to wear them again. At that time, the idea of "retro-ing" a sneaker wasn't conceptualized yet. Thus creating the sub-culture of sneaker collecting.

Around 1994, Nike started introducing the first retro editions of earlier Jordan Models. It was the first time, enthusiasts were able to collect models they weren't able to purchase years prior. (correct me if I'm wrong) Nike did its market research very well. They knew of their product's popularity amongst the Hip Hop crowd. Because of this sheer fact, they knew most people who bought a pair, were not going to use them in a full 82 game season, like Michael Jordan himself! The collectors and sneakerheads alike would buy a pair or two, maybe keep one on "ice" and wear the other one occasionally to turn a few heads. The game has changed. 

With that being said, as a smart company, Nike/Jordan's original model does not fit with how the actual product is being used. It has shifted from a "Performance-first" product to a "Lifestyle-first" product. Therefore, it's only right that they hold back on the materials. Especially since, fine Italian leathers only increase the cost of production and the price the consumers pay. 

I read an interesting take on this issue from 

"Reality is, though a lot of things have changed since the OG products, but in general one thing has not, price. Foamposites dropped originally for 200.00. Over 14 years later, they are still 200.00. Minimum wage has been raised multiple times, prices have increased on everything from a gallon of milk to your college tuition, however this Nike release has stayed the same. For example, using a standard inflation calculator, a shoe that cost 145.00 in 1997, would now cost nearly 195.00. That would be a pretty hefty jump. Some Nike products have increased in price, but I would guess that over 75% have stayed the same, or even gone down for Sneakerheads because of options such as more footwear sales and options such as outlets. In 1997, the OG air max 97 was 145.00. Years later, Sneakerheads now cop air max 97′s on Friends and Family sales and Employee Appreciation hook ups. The point is Nike has a cost to swallow in some way. They are selling you a shoe in 2010 for the same price or even at as much as 50% less. Either they give you an OG Quality Jordan VI with OG quality materials at a MODERN PRICE adjusted for inflation (200.00 a pair) or they give you a decent retro version that you can actually afford and serves a purpose for the OG price. Now I know many Sneakerheads will say, “give me quality,” but I’m telling you if they say that, smack ‘em, ‘cus they are lying to themselves."

 So can we really fault them for the shift? Not really. You be the judge, being a businessman sometimes means you have to take a loss in order to win in the long-run. If you think about it, if Hip-Hop culture never influenced the sneaker business, would the quality still be at OG levels? 


To illustrate the difference is the above video. Is the visual difference between the two pairs enough for you to not buy a brand new one?

At the end of the day, everyone has a different preference. Of course, I love and value OG over Retro, all day any day. But its just business, if you don't want a pair, don't buy one. After doing my research on the topic, I do understand the business aspect behind it. I'll still buy a retro once in a while. When I have the money of course!


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