Nike will launch the latest LeBron James shoe line this fall - identical to the red-white-and-blue pair James wore, and debuted, during Team USA's gold medal victory over Spain at the London Olympics. According to an email sent by Nike late Tuesday, the suggested retail price of the sneakers will be $180.
On Tuesday morning, numerous reports, including an early morning story in The Wall Street Journal, stated the new shoe would be sold for $315. That would have made the new LeBron X+ sneakers the company's highest-costing basketball sneaker.
At the end of the day, more than 12 hours after the original Wall Street Journal story appeared and roughly the same span of hours that the price point began leaking to other news outlets, Nike sent an email revealing the shoe's true price.
"The LEBRON X will be launched in the Fall at a suggested retail price (SRP) of $180," read an email from Nike spokesman Brian Strong, sent at 9:14 p.m. Eastern Time. "The initial introduction of the LEBRON X will be the red, white and blue Nike+ enabled version and that price is still being set, but will be at a higher price to reflect the Nike+ technology embedded in the shoes. Nike continues to offer shoes at various price points for consumers, including currently in the marketplace the LeBron Zoom Soldier basketball shoe at a SRP of $120 and the Nike Zoom Hyperfuse at a SRP $110."
Five hours earlier, when NBC News asked Strong if this $300-plus price point was established to reflect James' recent gold-medal performance and his team's NBA title, Strong replied via email: "We're not confirming/commenting on the LeBron X price." NBC News immediately sent a follow-up question to Strong, asking by email: "Well, let's start with that reported price - reported all over the place today: Is $315 incorrect?" Strong replied by email: "Just to reiterate, we're not yet commenting on the price of the LeBron X+."
In the basketball category, Nike’s highest-priced shoes are the LeBron 9 PS Elite, which goes for $250, and the Nike Hyperdunk+ Sport Pack, also priced at $250.
Compare that to a pair of Air Jordans – once the coolest kicks on the planet – which sold for about $65 in 1985.
“Normally, as a sneakerhead, when you see a high price point, you think it’s for a limited shoe, like 1,000 or 2,000 pairs. From what I’ve seen, the LeBron X will be 50,000 pairs," said Jamie Delaney, public relations and social media manager at rEvolution, a sports marketing and media services agency in Chicago.
“That’s kind of a turn off for me. As a sneakerhead, the whole allure of collecting sneakers is to get something that not a lot of people can get,” Delaney said. “It’s interesting that they’re trying this strategy – not taking reservations and they’re going to put them in retail like any other basketball shoe."
Delaney’s favorite sneakers to wear? A pair of 2011 Air Jordan 3 Black Cement re-releases. ($160).
“It’s one of everyone’s favorite shoe. For me, I like the cement and the elephant-skin design of it. It’s a comfortable shoe. It’s a way of making a statement with the way you dress without having to go buy new jeans and a new shirt. And you can wear it every day.
“Or you can just leave it in the box, like I do."
He has two pairs, actually – one for show, one still in the original box.
“Usually, most people have a pair to rock and a pair to stock,” Delaney said. "That’s the way we put it.”
According to the website Zappos, the most expensive athletic shoes on the market include a pair Marc Jacobs Quilted Low Top Trainers that fetch $640 and a pair of DSquared Wings High Tops, listed at $595.
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