Have you ever wondered why “quality” footwear is so expensive to get these days? From Rick Owens’ $3500 Grey snakeskin high-tops to typical $1000+/- Louis Vuitton dress shoes to decent basketball sneakers, we’ll notice that, on average, one does not get hyped footwear for change anymore. Let’s not even get started with the $2M Tom Ford shoes Nick Cannon spotted a couple of years ago(peep story here) or any House of Testoni shoes. The question now is WHY! Why do shoes cost more than clothes and jewelry these days?
1. Rising costs of inputs to production
Most dress shoes are made with leather, which is made from processing animal skin. And the most popular source of leather is cattle hide. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the number of cows is at its lowest since it started being recorded over 40 years ago. Basic supply and demand suggests that, since there are fewer sources of leather, it has become more expensive for designers to get a hold of leather and ultimately, this extra cost has to be reflected in the price of the shoes. Don’t forget there are classes of leather too! A full-grain leather shoes should obviously cost more than a bonded leather shoe. You could get 20 good years with full-grain leather vs maybe 2 years with bonded leather. This affects the price!
With modern-day sneakers and boots, designers integrate new technology more often to keep up with the rising demands of athletes. The cost of research and innovation is a cost to the designers, which, as far as business goes, has to be moved to the consumers (us).
2. Brands are well aware of “Fan Loyalty”
You know how Apple users think everything Android is copycat or low-budget and Android users think Apple products are too basic and the same, same thing applies to industries – including the footwear industry. Apple and Android operate in the knowledge that, as long as they don’t put out something outrightly terrible, they would get at least a decent response from their loyal buyers. They know they’ve done enough over the years to garner market trust and loyalty. Nike, Adidas, Alexander McQueen and all other top designers operate with this knowledge. Air Jordan sneakers hardly, if ever, go below $120 because they know most Jordan fans would be willing to pay at least that for a sneaker, regardless of how simplistic it may be.
3. Target “Market”
Each brand or silhouette of shoes has a specific market(s) they intend to impress. ‘Market’ in this case could be an age group, a particular occupation, people with passion for an activity or sport, wealthy people etc. This strongly applies to high-end designers because, for example, anyone who could afford an LV pair of shoes could also afford an Air Max, but not necessarily the other way around. Louis Vuitton won’t be shedding any tears after receiving a backlash from people calling them ripoffs and that their stuff are too expensive. Because those were not the people they had in mind when they were designing in the first place. They know their target market can afford their stuff at the set prices and will purchase their products.
4. There’s this talk about “Quality”
Ever noticed how two pairs of shoes look almost exactly the same, with the only apparent difference being the brand name and yet, one is really expensive and the other very cheap? In some cases, there could be a glaring difference in quality. But let’s consider the case where there isn’t any obvious difference in quality. There’s still going to be disparity in the prices of both products. An unbranded sneaker that looks exactly like a Balenciaga sneaker would never cost as much as $950. Why? Because Alexander Wang did not design it. Sometimes the individual designing drives the price, and not necessarily “quality”.
Have you been bamboozled by the price of some particular shoes in the past? Or maybe you have some more reasons as to why shoe prices are ridiculous sometimes. I’m always willing to learn more and I know others are as well. Tell us your thoughts in the comments.