Credit/Blame Gwarizm for pointing out TheTapeToday’s YouTube Channel and the resurrection of a short doc that spotlights the old battle between Nike and young rival company LA Gear. The last thing most people remember about the company was the shitty light up sneakers that kids loved, but many forget they once challenged Nike in sales, obviously back before the Swoosh became the behemoth it is today.
In hindsight, LA Gear had a few of the biggest names around as spokespeople: Michael Jackson, Joe Montana, Karl Malone and Hakeem Olajuwon before he copped the “H” in his first name. But as “urban street warrior” MC Hamlet says in the doc, “Nobody wears LA Gear – Michael Jackson wears LA Gear and that’s the only person I know that wears LA Gear.”
Further down the rabbit hole reveals a few random bits of info about LA Gear’s story, courtesy of Turnaround.org.
— LA Gear was founded by Robert Greenberg, a former hairdresser and wig salesman who later founded Sketchers. Even though their focus was geared more towards lifestyle than sportswear, those are still interestingly strange origins for a gym shoe company.
— A guy in the clip references Michael Jackson as the only person he knows who wore LA Gears and “nobody wants to dress like Michael Jackson.” Accurate statement.
— LA Gear went public in 1986, seeing its stock double on the first day of trading. The company skyrocketed to a market equity of $1 billion by ’89. But as styles shifted and L.A. Gear didn’t, the bottom fell out with revenues dropping from $820 million in 1990 to $196 million in ’96. By 1998, they’d filed bankruptcy. An investor during that period ended up selling their $100 million stake for $228,000 by 1997.
— The company still exists, selling shoes at retailers like Belk, Modell’s, Sears and JC Penny. Since none of those stores are hypebeast hot spots, I’ll assume I wasn’t the only ones who didn’t know these things could still could be found on shelves.