A look at Nike's new LeBron X, set to hit stores this fall. (Image via www.lebronjames.com)
Citing the rising costs of labor in China, of materials like cotton and of shipping, Nike is reportedly going to raise prices on its sneakers by between 5 percent and 10 percent this fall, according to the Wall Street Journal's Shelly Banjo. The across-the-board increase will result in a $5 bump on low-end kicks like the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars (the choice of Dan Devine since round about 1999) and a somewhat steeper price tag on the Oregon apparel giant's higher-end items, including the forthcoming LeBron X, the 10th edition of LeBron James' signature sneaker.
James unveiled the LeBron X — which are "inspired, both aesthetically and metaphorically, by the diamond, a precious and nearly indestructible gemstone," according to NikeBlog — during Team USA's gold-medal win over Spain at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The hotly anticipated signature shoe will hit the market this fall in two models: the standard version, which will retail at $180 a pair, and the LeBron X Nike Plus, which will include the company's Nike+ technology, built around embedded pressure/motion sensors that track and store data on stuff like how much/how far/how fast a player moves during a game or workout, or how high he/she jumped on a dunk.
The model's going to run you $315, making it the most expensive pair of sneakers Nike's ever brought to market, according to Banjo. And while the sneakerhead community's known what the LeBron X will cost for nearly
a month now five months now (shouts to CounterKicks), the WSJ report brought the news to the world at large, sparking notices in financial notes columns and business-specific news sites, and even on National Public Radio. The general tenor of such outsider discussion of the price point — which, again, is the going rate just for the high-tech, Nike+-infused model, and not the regular shoes, which will cost $180, or $10 more than last year's LeBron 9 — has been characterized by surprise and, in some places, dismay.
Gawker's Hamilton Nolan offered a fairly succinct encapsulation of the blowback:
Read More »from A high-tech model of LeBron James’ new signature Nikes will cost $315
As unemployment ravages the working class, our lower and higher education systems shudder in crisis, and murder decimates our forgotten urban poverty zones, Nike is rolling out its first $300+ sneaker. But mom, you don't understand—it's worth it.