Nike sneakers have gotten more expensive as the years have gone on, but so has everything else. It's called inflation. But Nike's perception as a brand would be much different right now without the Kobe 9 Elite at $225 and the LeBron XI Elite at $275. Nike offers the best products to its consumers, and they pay a premium price to get them. That's the Nike that we've all bought into.
But in 2002, Foot Locker wasn't feeling Nike's desire to offer high-priced sneakers. In fact, the retailer cut down on its purchasing of models that were priced over $120, and this resulted in Nike's footwear and apparel orders dropping by 10 percent, according to the Los Angeles Times.
If you remember, this is around the time when Foot Locker offered its now-defunct 2 for $89 program, in which it sold a lot of "classic" sneakers at affordable prices. This sparked a riff between the two brands, and Foot Locker's desire to sell less-expensive sneakers caused Nike to cut the retailer off from its marquee footwear releases. It even refused to stock Foot Locker with the Air Jordan IXs, which retroed in 2002.
It's tough to imagine Foot Locker not selling high-end Nike sneakers in today's climate. Select House of Hoops stores will sell the $400 Jordan Shine this weekend. But over a decade ago, Nike had its eyes set on other retailers to sell its top-dollar sneakers.
"Nike executives said they were optimistic about a decision to redirect distribution of Nike's high-end footwear, focusing on retailers other than Foot Locker," The Los Angeles Times wrote 12 years ago.
Luckily, as we all know, things have changed a lot between Nike and Foot Locker. You can walk into any Foot Locker and see sneakers that retail for over $120, which, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic, is roughly $159 in 2014.
But if you visit Foot Locker's website, there are still plenty of sneakers, which get more than enough love from the sneaker blogosphere, that fall below that $159 price point. Jordan Futures and the Nike Flyknit Lunar2 are both available for $150 each. While LeBron XI Lows, Lil' Penny Posites, and Kobe 9 EM lows all tip that $159 threshold. Let's not forget the company's other ventures now like House of Hoops and Footaction's Flight 23, which will be selling the high-end Jordan Shine this weekend.
It's not about the price, though. It's about offering customers a variety of sneakers at all values, and that's what's allowing Foot Locker to flourish right now. It offers the Roshe Run for under $100, and the retro Jordans for $170 on Saturday. It's this balance that only complements its business, but all of our sneaker collections, too.