A few days ago Bloomberg revealed a scandal at the top of Nike. It resulted in the resignation of its North American VP and GM, Ann Hebert. Her son, Joe Hebert, used her contacts, insider information, and even a credit card to build a resell company worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. It might influence not only Nike’s reputation but also have an impact on the whole sneaker culture.
What is resell all about
Sneaker culture members are collecting shoes as a hobby and the more unique and limited they are, the better. Nike, by Jordans and collaborations with celebrities and other companies, is in the vanguard of sneakers suppliers.
Sneakers’ prices are usually limited to around $200 in retail. Often much less, sometimes more. But on the secondary market sky is the limit. The most exclusive models limited to only a few thousands pairs can reach even a $10000 price tag. It resulted in many resellers who want to snatch a bit for themselves.
This situation is nothing new. It started in the ’80s and premiere of Air Jordan 1. In the beginning, people had to wait in queues outside authorised stores to get their dreamt pair. But not everybody needed to stand outside even for days. Backdoor selling was and still is present.
Today the role of stationery stores decreased but did not disappear. The middlemen are usually mobile apps (like SNKRS made by Nike), where everybody can try to buy limited sneakers. This solution seemed to be fair. Apps developed directly by producers will be objective and everyone will have the same chance to grab the prize.
Nike’s scandal shows that it has never been objective. Disappointed sneakerheads might turn away from Nike and look for smaller but more authentic suppliers. Authenticity and credibility are the fundaments of sneaker culture. Brands like Anti Social Social Club or Supreme have grown from a genuine desire to deliver something unique to a specific group of people.
Nike will now face a real problem to rebuild its credibility. All in all, I think they will earn it back, but this situation can be a great opportunity for smaller brands to attract upset customers.
Short press release says nothing about the reasons of the resignation and how Nike is going to prevent situations like this in the future. Of course, it’s good that Ann Hebert stepped down immediately after publication but does anybody believe that she was the only one involved in the systems like this?
Probably not but possibly they are smarter than Joe Hebert and their ethical violations will be more difficult to detect.
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