Starbury leads the way as low-cost sneakers make big noise

The era of the $100 sneaker might be coming to an end.

The era of the $100 sneaker might be coming to an end.

While Nike, home to the famous Air Jordan basketball shoe, still has incredible brand power, evidenced by its whopping $3.8 billion in overall sales in its recent quarter, the historic core of its US business - basketball shoes - dropped 16% in sales last year, according to BusinessWeek.

While Nike's basketball offerings falter, upstart, low-cost sneakers are on the ascent. Take, for instance, the highly successful Starbury One, priced at $14.98, manufactured and distributed by discount clothing chain Steve & Barry's.

The design for a follow-up version - Starbury II - is already complete. "We sold more sneakers in the first four months following the [Starbury] launch than other sneaker companies sold over the entire year," reports Howard Schacter, chief partnership officer and brand manager of the Starbury Collection. "And we're getting ready to blow out the brand with the Starbury II."

Why does it matter?

"They are not just low-cost sneakers; their existence forms a backlash against the high-cost sneaker trend that people have been questioning for some time," says Lucian James, founder and president of brand strategy company, Agenda. "Shaquille O'Neal has endorsed a line of Payless shoes. The role it plays in attempting to show that the priority some place on sneakers could be directed elsewhere has really tapped into something."

Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban told the New York Post, "The concept of $15 shoes that are cool and hip for kids to wear could have more of an impact on family finances and the culture of consumption in many households than anything that has happened in years."

Five facts:

1. According to Schacter, Stephon Marbury's up-front endorsement fee was $0, which is atypical in the sports world. As a result, Marbury only makes money from sneaker sales.

2. During the Starbury Movement Tour, Marbury traveled to 40 cities in 17 days. The Starbury Collection has generated 1 billion-plus consumer PR impressions and nearly $20 million in ad equivalency, without the benefit of traditional ads.

3. Neil Weilheimerm, executive editor of trade magazine Footwear News, named the Starbury One brand the Launch of the Year, according to The New York Times.

4. The most expensive basketball shoe currently available at Footlocker.com is the Adidas Men's C-Billups ($199.99). The site currently retails more than ten shoes over $100.

5. Overall, $2.9 billion worth of basketball shoes are sold per year, with males between the ages of 12-20 being the biggest consumer demographic.

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