Thursday, December 07, 2006

Time for a Change

There seems to be some changes happening in sneakerhead land and I’m not sure what it is, but it certainly isn’t good.

You see, a lot of the athletic shoe companies are finally realizing that the numbers don’t lie- - with over 70% of all athletic footwear being made not being used for its intended sports- - and have admitted that they are athletic shoe manufacturers and lifestyle instigators.

It’s about time that the companies look at their bottom line and realize that the ‘hood has been blessing them with mad paper for well over 3 decades. It was the mid-‘80’s when they all started making money from the masses in major cities- - New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Portland.

Reebok hit new heights in 1982, with the release of the Freestyle and the Ex-O-Fits a.k.a. The 5411s (the 5411s got their name due to their price of $51 plus 6.1% sales tax). Reebok jumped in the game at the right time and catered to a group, women, who had long been overlooked by athletic shoe manufacturers. In ’82 it was believed that few women wanted to play sports similarly to men and if a woman did compete in sports, she was considered to be a Tom-boy or worse, a lesbian.

Nike didn’t see the onslaught coming and for the first time, Nike had been out-maneuvered by the new-kid-on-the-block, Reebok.

Not one to sit on the sidelines and be smacked around by some leg-warmer wearing, leopard-print leotard-wearing aerobicising women, Nike came back in full affect in 1985 with their own version of a cross-trainer sneaker, orginally designed by Tinker Hatfield and basketball sneakers highlighting a then unrealized phenom in Michael Jordan. You know how the story goes with Nike and Jordan, so there is no need to rehash it here.

Adidas was steady mobbin’ in the ‘70s and ‘80s and were constants on the tennis courts to the black tops in a ‘hood near you. Thanks to athletes such as Muhammad Ali, Edwin Moses, Ivan Lendl, Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar people in many corners of the world rocked the three-striped All Day I Dream About Sports (or Sex) sneakers.

With the plethora of sneakers on the market, if you’re not the type of person that needs to have the latest and greatest, you can wait a few months and check your local sporting goods store or outlet and find a good pair of sneakers at a significantly reduced price. There are a few ‘heads that read this blog that I know picked up the Nike Air Zoom 2K5 ‘Maps’ for much less than the $140 msrp. Try $60 and the cost of gas ($6.50).

So, what I’ve known for so many years is finally being addressed by the sneaker companies or, maybe, they’re finally going to admit that they rely heavily on the trends that emanate from the ‘hood. Now, I’m just waiting for one of the companies to come out and say it. I won’t hold my breath though, because the world needs me!

Hat tip to Sucker DJs for the pictures!


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