With the “Home” and “Away” colorways of the LeBron 9 Elite P.S. set to release next weekend to coincide with the NBA Playoffs, check out Sole Collector’s detailed photos of LBJ Elites in varsity maize, black and white, dubbed the “Taxi” colorway and set to drop on May 12. Of course, the retail price is $250, which already has people up in arms, but should we be?
In a short span of weeks, Nike’s set to release four LBJ Elite models with the combined retail total of $1,000. When news was announced last year that Nike would be instituting a slight price hike, we braced ourselves but few expected increases along these lines*. The counter argument is that nobody’s twisting consumers’ arms to buy into the idea that the different Elite models are worth the coin. Instead, it seems as if the Swoosh’s aiming at hardcore cats who want just that – an “Elite” model, one where the brand took every material at their disposal plus all the advancements that made sense to add and packed them into a handful of models (the Kobe VII and Hyperdunk get the treatment as well) meant for peak performance on the court.
Honestly, I didn’t think Jason Petrie and co. could top the LBJ 8, but they did with the 9 and ended up creating two of the best sneakers we’ve seen in decades. I had a chance to check out the Elites last week and they somehow managed to surpass the two aforementioned models by shaving off all excess and making them noticeably lighter without sacrificing anything. As far as materials go, the designers opted to use Kevlar for the Flywire, they created a fit more secure than Fort Knox, and utilized a carbon fiber support wing built to create the most responsive, reflex shoe possible. Arguably, the LBJ 9 Elite may be the best of the best.
My brand fanaticism aside, cats seem to be losing sight of the idea that there are plenty of other, more reasonably priced pairs of kicks out there, just like there’s a variety of cars at the dealer’s lot. There’s sticking with what you’re willing to spend for dependable transportation, then there’s copping a luxury vehicle like a Mercedes-Benz…and then leaping up to the Benz AMG. Each whip does the same basic thing, but you’re paying extra to get extras. The Elite series are poised to be the AMG class of sneakers.
Someone asked me if I was buying any of the Elite series and if I thought the price tag was fair. Honestly, there’s no rationale behind spending $250 for footwear, especially not sneakers (maybe certain loafers) but most cats who buy kicks regularly have done it before. Twice yearly, I’ll usually pay over what I’d normally spend ($150) as a splurge gift to myself. My max on those purchases has probably been in the $300 range but those only occur on my birthday and Christmas. The difference here is most sneakerheads** aren’t used to paying a retail price tag so high.
But to most people, spending anything north of $100 shoes would be considered unreasonable and unfamiliar. My dad’s one of those folks because he can wear the same pair of sneakers daily for a couple of years without giving it a second thought. One of the strongest movie proverbs that stuck with me was from Clockers in the scene where Rodney schools Strike and the other young hoppers on how to spend their money wisely. To paraphrase, he criticizes them for hustling and taking penitentiary chances, only to waste their income on multiple pairs of shoes when they only have one pair of feet. And there’s always the TV jewel in Cliff Huxtable’s response to Theo’s desire for a Gordon Gartrelle***. The wise old sage informs his son that no boy should be wearing a $95 shirt unless “he is on stage with his four brothers.”
As a lot, sneakerheads** defy logic and I’m one of them. We won’t get into numbers, but I spend way more on shoes than what could be considered normal. However, shoes are my only vice and frivolous expenditure (okay, aside from cigarettes and candy). Countless times, I’ve made note of the fact that I’ll pick up a shoe strictly out of curiosity to see how tech advances changed the wearing experiencing. A new cushioning system, a change in laces or an intriguing color scheme? Count me in. There are at least 15 pairs of gray and neon-based kicks in the closet right now. There’s an ungodly amount of pairs sitting in there that only get worn once every few months. And I don’t care. Shoes are what I do. They have been and remain my passion, much like music is.
So will I be paying the piper for Nike’s new tune? Yes, I’ll join in just to sing and dance for at least one round or perhaps two, all the while consciously blowing money fast.
* – Especially when price increase haven’t always meant relative increases in quality. But I digress.
** – Probably one of my least favorite terms but used to here just to keep things simple. I’m not a sneakerhead and don’t necessarily belong to a “community.” I just buy a lot of shoes.
*** – As seen previously, I can explain away all of life’s questions and conundrums by referencing lessons taught by The Cobsy Show.