Thursday, March 28, 2013

It Must Be The Shoes

(Air Jordan 11 Retro Bred)
Michael Jordan retired nine years ago. His last championship with the Bulls came in 1998. He is 50 years old and unfortunately, he owns the Charlotte Bobcats. Yikes.

Yet, no one in sports possesses a more popular brand than MJ’s Air Jordan Brand.

This Saturday (March 23, 2013) at 8:00 am, thousands upon thousands of people stood in line at Foot Lockers and Finish Lines around the country. Another thousand or so crashed those stores’ respective websites at 8:01 am.

Why you may ask? Well, because at 8 am this Saturday, the Air Jordan Retro 11s (nicknamed the “Breds) will be restocked across the country after selling out in a few hours during their initial December 21, 2012 re-release date. Oh, by the way, this same shoe has been re-released (and subsequently sold out) numerous times over the years since its 1996 release.

Now, the Bred 11s are just a fragment of the Air Jordan beast. You can replace the Bred 11s with any re-release of an old Air Jordan and you’ll get the same result. The re-release of the AJ 11 Concord shoes even saw violence in-line while people waited for shoes that they may not even receive. Because of this overwhelming popularity, the overall financial numbers for the brand are absolutely staggering. According to SportsOneSource, “The Jordan brand has a 10.8 percent share of the overall US shoe market, which makes it the second biggest brand in the country and more than twice the size of Adidas’ share” Yeesh.

(Air Jordan Retro 11s Concord)

Also there is this: from SOS, “Three out of every four pairs of basketball shoes sold in this country are Jordan, while 86.5 percent of all basketball shoes sold over $100 are Jordan. At more than $1 billion in sales, the Jordan brand now makes up roughly 5 percent of Nike’s overall revenues” This makes the $130 million he grossed in 1984, his initial year with Nike, look like chump change.

The fact is that even though he’s retired, Michael Jordan still has a leg up on Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul. All of those players mentioned have multi-million dollar shoe deals (LBJ’s Nike deal is valued at $90 million while D-Rose’s Adidas deal is valued at a staggering $250 million) but their shoes are always outsold by re-releases of old Air Jordans. Visit right now and you’ll see plenty of KD Vs (Kevin Durant’s shoes) and LBJ Xs (Lebron James’s newest shoe) available but you’ll be hard pressed to find a pair of Air Jordan Retros. The demand is simply staggering with a new re-release outselling LeBron and Kobe’s shoes by numbers reaching a ratio of 3 to 1. The Jordans retail around $160-185 per pair but can go for 4-5x that amount on the eBay aftermarket (Look it up).

The simple answer is that no player can reach Jordan’s level for whatever reason. He remains the gold standard of sports endorsement despite the fact that he has not dunked a basketball since I was in the 4th grade (Sales have actually doubled for the Air Jordan Brand since his final retirement in 2003, according to report done by Kevin Spence of the University of Kentucky). According to Matt Powell of SportsOneSource, “The Jordan brand has established itself as the premium ‘designer’ brand in athletic footwear. The breadth and reach of this line will never be duplicated.” 

Yet other brands have tried. In recent months, Reebok has tried to mimic Air Jordan and Nike by re-releasing vintage shoes. Reebok has released old shoes from Shawn Kemp, Dominique Wilkins, Allen Iverson, and Tracy McGrady in recent months to pretty strong sales. However, the thought of ever eclipsing His Airness seems like a pipe dream.

How does he do? That’s a question that you’ll have to ask Michael and Phil Knight. I can only treat this as one of those unexplainable phenomenon that only come around once in a lifetime. While people fight each other for a re-release of a shoe that came out 15 years ago, MJ is taking a bath in his estimated $9.53 billion dollars of brand value.

Now excuse me as I try to scrounge up $185 of my rent money to buy the Breds 11 on Saturday…


Aaron Colemen is a student at Drexel University and avid supporter of Drexel University athletics.

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