While Jordan Brand has had great success in the “retro game”, almost to the point where many believe that they are the main reason why the brand itself is staying afloat, the sneakerhead community hasnt seen an recent influx of shoes from the childhood of the 30+ crew making their ways back onto store shelves. Occasionally the Nike brand would re-release a popular older version of a shoe, or “retro” it, every once in a while but now we see other shoe brands taking advantage of this great opportunity of reconnecting with the oldheads while catching the eyes and pockets of the youngins who buy a lot of sneakers. The Reebok brand seems to have benefitted the most thanks to the appointment of Producer/Rapper Swizz Beats into the role creative director of Reebok Classics; they have not only brought back the popular staples like the Allen Iverson Question and Answer series, but also the Kamakazie II (or the Shawn Kemps as they were popularly dubbed) and the soon to be shipped Shaqnosis. Smaller brands like Ewing Athletics and Fila also have also taken advantage of the Retro success stories to bring back popular shoes.
Why are retros so popular? I think more than anything shoe companies realize with retros they dont have to recreate the wheel. Not much thought goes into taking a previously successful shoe from years back, build up hype by giving hints of the release on shoe blogs months in advance, and even bring out new color(s) in addition to an original colorway and ther you have it… financial success. Secondly the shoe companies and their designers have become unimaginative and almost boring with the new releases and don’t offer much in color/design for the fan who is looking for a shoe to wear to the movies rather than a shoe to wear to play a sport. Many in the sneakerhead community will attest that the best thing that happened for the Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Kobe Bryant shoe series was their ability to be more popular for off-court wear than being used on the hardwood.
As I previously said Jordan Brand is still cornering the market thanks in part to their retro series and it’s because the designers understand that they can take a popular silhouette release the original while also integrating a different color and its funny I know plenty of guys who have the same shoe but in 4-5 different colors (the kilroy pack below is the perfect example). We have seen the news stories about the violence and issues that arise from those clamoring to purchase a shoe that was originally released in the 90s and has been re-released many times, and the reason why is simple: Back in the day there was a high level status assumption made about those who had Air Jordans and there were many youth who could not afford them, including myself, so now that we are adults, we look to take advantage of opportunities missed. So as the adults reminisce about their youth and either having or wanting to have the original shoe, it developes a curiosity in the younger generation to be able to have those same feelings and conversations so then they become enamoured with purchasing the shoe thus creating a never-ending cycle.
Ironically during their original releases Jordans, as well as other retros, still maintained on-court functionality, but now due to massive quality downgrading, many wouldn’t suggest wearing them for serious play. That issue has irked many of the original fans of the shoes because while the quality has decreased the price hasn’t, but that is a simple correlation of supply & demand. As long as fans of these shoes camp out for days, buy out the supply of stores across the world in minutes, and are willing to pay double and almost triple the amount on the resellers market, there is no need improve the shoe to the original standards.
So what is the future of re-released shoes? I believe as long as there is a market segment that has yet to purchase a popular shoe of the past there will always be reason to retro it. And as time passes there then becomes an opportunity for popular shoes of the current millennium to get retro’ed, so while many of us have laughed at this meme below it won’t just be Michael Jordan who is benefitting from it. Subsequently it will create a new cycle of life for shoe collectors all over the world; buy a shoe, wear it, wait 5 years until they retro it AGAIN, and then rebuy it.
What recent retro release were you the most excited about?
Is there a shoe that previously released that you wish would retro?
Which of the recent new releases has the best shot for retro success in the future?