Are Sports Shoes Really Worth The Cash We Shell Out?

It’s no secret that basketball shoes are some of the most overpriced commodities on the market today. With their celebrity endorsements and aggressive marketing, many of these sneakers can cost in excess of $150. In reality, the cost of making these shoes is drastically lower. Now, one basketball star is fighting back by producing a value line in which the shoes sell for less than $15.

Stephon Marbury played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1996 to 2009, and he currently hones his talents in China, where he has won three championships for the Beijing Ducks. Marbury has introduced his own line of shoes called Starburys, and they are available at much lower prices than Jordans and Nikes. Marbury also believes that his shoes work against sneaker-related crime.

In 2014, more than $324 million worth of clothing was reported as stolen from stores in the United States. This high value was largely the result of excessive markups in the cost of clothing items, including expensive sneakers. Some teenagers have even been killed because of costly brand name shoes. In April of 2014, a 14 year old was shot by a 15 year old because he cut in line to purchase shoes sponsored by Kanye West. And in February of this year, a teenager in Ohio was killed as he tried to steal a pair of Jordans.

This is Marbury’s second attempt at starting the discount Starbury line of shoes. In his last try, the company supporting his shoes went bankrupt. He made the announcement that he would revive the line in October of this year. However, Marbury has sparked some controversy for the way he going about doing this.

On Twitter, Marbury called out basketball legend and the face of the Air Jordans sneaker line Michael Jordan for promoting sneaker-related crime. Marbury said that Nike and Jordan were “robbing the hood”. Nike has not commented on the matter, but the company has previously condemned acts of violence caused by its shoes.

Still, there’s no denying that brand name shoes are very highly priced when one considers what goes into making them. Virtually all of the physical assembly is done in poor countries where the companies can make use of extremely cheap labor. Most of the “value” come from the design and the marketing techniques. Retail markup also plays a big role. Meanwhile, many customers say that they are willing to pay for the expensive shoes because they are assured that they are getting a high quality product.

While Marbury has promised that his Starburys are just as good as Jordans, most consumers find that hard to believe. That being said, consumers have stated that Starburys are an excellent value at $15, while Jordans are a terrible value at upwards of $150. So at the very least, Starbury buyers are getting a much better bang for their buck. Although it’s true that Jordans might feature more appealing designs and perhaps better quality, it’s highly questionable as to whether these slight improvements are worth a ten-fold price increase.

However, young people still want to wear shoes that are supported by their idols. When someone inspirational like Michael Jordan or someone with a good sense of style like Kanye West produces a shoe, people want to wear it. Earlier this year, Kanye joined forces with Adidas to produce “Yeezy boots”, which sold for $200. When it comes to shoes, celebrity endorsement is critical.

Simply put, Stephon Marbury doesn’t have the star power of Michael Jordan or Kanye West. In 2009, Marbury was seen eating Vaseline for the purpose of “curing a sore throat”. Despite some success on the basketball court, he’s not a figure that young people want to emulate. It’s very hard to look up to someone who eats Vaseline and has been regulated to playing basketball in China instead of the NBA.

But while Marbury and Starbury certainly lose in the marketing department, he definitely wins in the value department. Ultimately, it’s unlikely that Starburys will ever be able to triumph over the Jordan behemoth. Still, Starburys might have found a market that Jordan could never touch. Time will tell if Marbury is successful in his latest endeavor.  

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