The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 86 — What's the point, exactly?

Diving in on the SNKRS app's true purpose

Goooood morning, folks! Welcome back to the Kicks You Wear! Thanks so much for rocking with me this morning.

I did another podcast! Jumped on Keeping Stock with the homie Julian Gray to chat it up about Steph Curry and whatever the hell is going on at Under Armour. Take some time to listen to that here! I never say this about anything I do — especially when I speak — but, trust me, it’s a great listen.

With that out of the way, let’s dive in.

The SNKRS app’s real job

(Photo by Kristian Egelund on Unsplash)

Nike’s SNKRS app has become the bane of our collective sneaker loving existence. It feels impossible to buy shoes off of the SNKRS app.

Eh, let’s keep it real. It basically is impossible. Between the low quantity, high demand, and the bugginess of the app the chances of successfully buying the app’s hyped pairs are slim. That’s why I’ve been thinking about this tweet (h/t the homie Justin Gage) for a week now.

Yes, what exactly is the point of SNKRS? At it’s core, it’s a tool for us to buy shoes with. But…so few of us actually get to buy shoes with it. So why does it exist? I thought about it for a while and here’s the answer I landed upon.

The SNKRS app isn’t a tool for the consumer. Instead, it’s Nike’s digital hype machine. They turn the principles of supply and demand into a game and use that game to get the consumer to promote the brand even more — whether they get the product or not.

  • Folks jump on the app and try to get hyped shoes every weekend. For the folks who do? They’re ecstatic. They want to share, so they post the “GOT EM” screen in a tweet. They call it a W. What it really is is a Nike ad.

  • Even for the folks who didn’t get them, there’s an actual “Didn’t get em” screen to post, too. They call that an L. This, too, is really a Nike ad.

This, folks, is the anchor to Nike’s digital business. And it will be for the foreseeable future. Why? Because it’s working really well. Its revenue just reached $1 billion for Nike last year, per the Motley Fool, which isn’t but a drop in the bucket for Nike. But that number doesn’t even begin to paint the full picture.

Its value lies in its growth. SNKRS sales ballooned from $70 million in 2015 to $750 million in 2019, per Quartz’ Marc Bain. Revenues just hit a billy last quarter. That’s an unprecedented jump.

So, what’s the actual point of SNKRS? It depends on who we’re talking about.

  • For Nike, it’s the future of their digital business. It tells them our likes, our dislikes, how crazy we are about what sneakers and how to drive us to other arms of their business.

  • For us? There’s not much. We get a social experience where we’re one of the lucky winners who get to pay for a pair of shoes at retail or, well, we aren’t. Either way, we share that experience. Very rarely does it come with a reward.

But here’s the sick part — you’ll love this, I’m sure. You can’t stop using the app. Why? A couple of reasons.

  • SNKRS is a gateway. It’s the first attempt you get to make at a shoe for retail and, generally, the only way to do it without a bot or a cook group or whatever else. And when it’s either this or the secondary market, you’ll try your luck here first.

  • Plus, social media is addicting! Posting, sharing and being part of a community all comes with this. Nike knows that. They see it. They take advantage of it.

So, the only way for this to ever change is for us to stop using the app and force them to reward us in some way for jumping on it. But they’ve cornered things in a way where we can’t stop. It’s an endless loop of hopelessness, basically.

Anyway, good luck copping those J’s this weekend.

Varsity blues

(Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash)

College sports is big business for sneaker and apparel companies. And it doesn’t just stop at the merch deals they land with these schools and their massive sports program.

  • Think about how much gear you bought from the bookstore over the years. All that falls under the umbrella.

  • It’s everything from jersey sales to team apparel to even simple sweat suits. That’s all revenue that comes as part of

All that is gone now thanks to COVID-19. At least for some schools, anyway. Both the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced they’d be postponing the fall sports and other conferences will probably follow suit soon.

College sports is a massive revenue stream for apparel companies like Nike, Under Armour and Adidas. It’s too early to tell how big any financial hit will be, but there almost certainly will be one.

We’re talking about major schools. The Ohio States, USCs and Michigans of the world. Huge college football programs that drive in revenue — not just from television rights but through merchandising, too. And in the Pac-12’s case, they’re postponing college basketball as well. So that’s a whole new swath of teams and gear that, all of a sudden, lose luster with sports postponed.

That’s a big deal for a couple of reasons.

  • This is exactly the force majeure argument Under Armour needed to defend itself in any countersuit from UCLA for breaking out of its massive $286 million deal with more than a decade left to go on it.

  • It also leaves the door wide open for these apparel companies to do the same things with more universities if things get dire.

Of course, sports absolutely need to be cancelled if they cannot be played in a safe manner.

The NBA’s bubble has worked tremendously well so far, but these aren’t professional athletes. In the meantime, though, the NCAA could just avoid all of this by paying its players and acknowledging them as professionals, but it is what it is.

Only time will tell just how deep these cuts are going to go. Don’t feel bad for the NCAA, though. They’re doing this to themselves.

It’s happening, folks. We’re normalizing the Space Hippie

Everything that we wanted to happen with the Space Hippie is becoming our reality. Weeks ago, we talked about how we needed to see the Space Hippie normalized. That meant seeing it on more common, non-hyped silhouettes as well as more colorways of the original line that dropped.

I am extremely pleased to say we are seeing exactly that. The Space Hippie is growing and popping up everywhere. Not only are we seeing new Space Hippie models. We’re also seeing Space Hippie materials used on common sneakers like the Jordan 1, Dunk and Chuck Taylor.

The collection continues to grow. There’s an entire collection of Nike sneakers coming called the “Recycled Canvas” pack dropping on August 20.

  • The pack includes multiple colors of the Air Force 1, the Cortez, the Air Max 95, the Air Max 90 and the Daybreak Type.

  • They’re all created from the same recycled materials or “trash” that the Space Hippie is made from.

Here’s a look at the pack. It’s pretty cold — that Air Max 95, specifically.

This is what we needed to see. The same silhouettes people love, but also commonly buy, turned in to sustainable wear. This is a big step. You absolutely love to see it.

Another Jordan record — shattered

Just three months ago as we collectively finished up the Last Dance documentary, there were a pair of original Jordan 1’s that sold in an online auction for $560,000. A whole record.

But, uh, that record has been shattered. Nah. For real. Again, three months later. Somebody bought a pair of game worn Jordan 1’s for a whopping $615,000 (!!!!!!!). And it wasn’t even like they were worn in a special game — they apparently came from an exhibition Michael Jordan played in in Italy circa 1985.

Joints is BEAT, too.

Yeah, Mike wore the hell out of those.

Anyway, shouts to the winner, I guess. Fam. Imagine having that much money for literally anything. Couldn’t be me, unfortunately.

What’s droppin’, bruh

That’s a wrap for Monday, family! Thanks so much for rocking with your boy! You could’ve done anything else this morning, but you’re here with me. And I really appreciate it.

Don’t forget! Wednesday, we’re doing our forum! Last week was a blast. This week, I’ll open it up at 6 p.m. so that we can get everyone in, too! It’s gonna be dope, folks. Tap in.

As always, peace and love. Be easy. Be well. Be kind.

Signing off.

Sykes 💯