In short: The perfect storm of high production costs ($750,000 mold), polarizing sneaker design, and limited edition releases make the Nike Foamposite extremely expensive.
Not only is the Nike Foamposite one of the most expensive Nike sneakers of its day, but it has gathered split opinions over its design. Here are 4 reasons why Foamposites are expensive.
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How much are Nike Foamposites?
Nike Foamposite One and Foamposite Pro both retail for $230, but some releases, like the Foamposite Kryptonate, can sell for as high as $5,521 to $9,000 on the secondary market.
During the shoe’s release in 1997, the Foamposite One retailed for $180 while the Foamposite Pro retailed for a slightly lower price of $170, which was considered expensive at the time.
Why are Nike Foamposites so expensive?
With some Foamposites selling as high as $9,000 on the secondary market, you have to wonder what is the cause of the shoe’s steep price. Here are 4 reasons why:
1. Made popular by NBA superstars and celebrities
Nike originally designed the Foamposite for Scottie Pippen 20 years ago, but it only became popular after it caught the attention of another star, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway.
Penny Hardaway would become the first NBA player to debut the “Royal” Foamposites. A year later, Tim Duncan wore the “Pearl” Foamposite Pros at the 1998 NBA All-Star game.
But the event that made the biggest splash is arguably the 2009 NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest, where Nate Robinson won by dunking over Dwight Howard in a Superman costume.
Mind you, Nate Robinson is merely 5’9” while Dwight Howard is 6’11”.
The shoe was dubbed “Kryptonate” due to its bright neon green color. It also was meant as the weakness of Superman, a persona that was used by Dwight Howard during the dunk contest.
After the hype of the dunk contest, Nike released 100 pairs of Foamposites on St. Patrick’s Day 2009 at Foot Lockers Harlem House of Hoops with Nate Robinson in attendance.
More than a decade later, the shoe is still highly sought after.
Today, the Nike Foamposite Lite Kryptonate remains the most expensive and rarest Nike Foamposites ever, boasting a value of $5,521 to $9,000 on the secondary sneaker market.
2. Foamposites have a “love it or hate it” design
The Foamposite has become a polarizing shoe in the two decades since its original release. Some people love the “bettle-inspired” design, while some find the shoe hideous.
Chris Danforth, an editor at Highsnobiety, has never owned a pair and considers the shoe a taste he never acquired, while popular rapper Method Man called it the ugliest shoe of all time.
On the other hand, the Foamposite has also gained popularity among celebrities who like their footwear weird. Rapper Jim Jones thinks Foams are fly and loves the sneaker.
“I love my Foamposites. They don’t look like any other shoes I own and that’s why I love them.”– Whoopi Goldberg via an email through her publicist
The Nike Air Foamposite One was inspired by a beetle. Not the Volkswagen, but the little bugs, were actually part of the inspiration for the Foamposite’s aerodynamic features.
While the Nike Foamposite is not the easiest shoe to style with, part of its appeal lies in the design that resembles a blank canvas to bring crazy colorways to life.
The design of the Foamposite was so ridiculous at the time, compared to the traditional usage of leather and rubber. Many people thought Nike would ruin footwear with its design.
The shoe is also unique due to its lack of dominant Nike branding. With just a tiny white Swoosh on the lateral forefoot side, it wasn’t immediately obvious that it was a Nike sneaker.
The combination of adoration from popular celebrities, as well as the shoe’s unique “love it or hate it” design, results in the absurd resale value of some of the rare models.
3. Extremely high production costs
While it’s normal to see sneakers cost somewhere near $200 today, it was rare and unheard of back in 1997. Indeed, the Air Foamposite One retailed for a staggering $180 on release.
Why was the Foamposite shoe expensive back then? High production costs.
The shoe’s development process took three years. Everyone said the design was impossible to produce, from the designers at Nike all the way to the manufacturers in China.
A number of companies were approached by Nike with the Foamposite concept, but a South Korean company Daewoo, better known for making cars, successfully provided the formula.
In order to create the Foamposite One’s seamless upper, the “foam” material started as a liquid, which was then poured into molds. But how does that add up to $180?
It turns out, the price tag of the mold alone was $750,000. Once the production and marketing costs were added in, it’s easy to see why the price of Foamposites is so steep.
Additionally, the Nike Foamposite’s midsole had to be five times stronger than a traditional sneaker’s in order for the molded upper to stay attached to the midsole.
It might seem simple now, but in 1997, the development of the Foamposite was costly, pushing the limits of the technologies at the time (which in turn helped with future technologies).
Unfortunately, the shoe did not sell very well back in the day. The original Foamposite molds were destroyed, with no thoughts of any of the Foamposite models being re-released.
The destruction of the molds proved to be costly for Nike. It probably had something to do with the substantial price increase when Foamposites finally were brought back as a retro.
4. Low supply leads to high demand
Sneaker prices are based on scarcity, like all markets should be. The price of an item in low supply and high demand will steadily rise to meet the consumers’ expected demand.
Nike has played this very well, creating scarcity through limited items and partnering with NBA superstars and celebrities. As a result, the Nike Foamposite has become a scarce commodity.
Some Foamposite releases, like the Foamposite ParaNorman, for example, can sell for between $4,400 to $8,000 on the secondary market. A steep price for a pair of sneakers.
The Foamposite ParaNorman is so expensive because they were never released for sale. Nike only made 800 pairs and the only way to get a pair was through a social media giveaway.
The challenge was to submit their “weirdest” childhood photo. Because it’s virtually impossible for everyone to get their hands on the shoe, the price skyrocketed in the resale market.
Other limited editions, like the Nike Air Foamposite One x Sole Collector “Penny Signature Pack” pair, were only available in very limited quantities and originally retailed for $1,000.
Since then, this colorway has remained popular, but pairs rarely come up for sale.
By keeping the numbers low in the market, the Foamposite has now become a hot, and scarce, commodity, going for hundreds, and sometimes even thousands, on resale platforms.
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