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April 4, 2007 6:35 AM   Subscribe

NBA star challenges the industry with a $15 sneaker. Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury skipped the typical endorsement deals and teamed up with retailer Steve & Barry's to promote his "Starbury" basketball sneakers. What makes them so special isn't as much the design or even the name attached to the shoe, but Marbury's idea to sell them for $14.98. And far from just a product endorsement, Marbury is putting his money where his feet are. In addition to waiving endorsement fees and only receiving a percentage of actual sales, Marbury has also worn the shoes on the court since the start of the 2006 NBA season, and both the shoe- and Marbury- have held their own against a shoe ten times its price.
posted by XQUZYPHYR (103 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
The money quote was Marbury responding to James dissing his cheap sneaker: "I'd rather own than be owned."
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:39 AM on April 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


I saw that on TV the other day. Good for him. I wonder if it will work though. Part of the reason kids liked the expensive shoes was the status symbolism of showing off that they could afford them.

(also, I miss the Puma Clydes)
posted by jonmc at 6:40 AM on April 4, 2007


Are they also sweatshop free?
posted by delmoi at 6:43 AM on April 4, 2007


Presumably, both sneakers are made by 6-year olds in a dingy shed in Jakarta?
posted by billysumday at 6:43 AM on April 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


FOOTWEAR UNRELATED TO BASKETBALL SUCCESS SHOCKER

James said he won't respond to several letters he's received from political activist Ralph Nader, who urged James to take a public stance in support of workers' rights at overseas plants that produce the shoes he endorses. "No, I haven't responded to it," James said. "But I think Nike's a great company and they would respond if need be."

Obviously Lebron James is a tool. The question is, under what conditions are Marbury's shoes being made? (That question is probably answered behind the registration-required LA Times wall.)
posted by DU at 6:45 AM on April 4, 2007


And to think, I've been buying Converse for years at a whopping $30 a pop!
posted by Brittanie at 6:46 AM on April 4, 2007


I don't know how much impact this will have on the craze for overpriced shoes but I certainly applaud the effort. Now if only more players would come around to this line of thinking.
posted by MikeMc at 6:48 AM on April 4, 2007


On the shoes & manufacturing. It's iffy, I guess:
But the Starbury One--because of both its price and the fact that it is being marketed as footwear for social justice--has also invited scrutiny. The athletic shoe industry is notorious for some of the most appalling of sweatshop conditions. Are the Starbury Ones, made in China, produced in such a manner?

Schacter says no. "We are a member of the Fair Labor Association," he says. "More importantly, firmly embedded in our history and culture is a deep commitment to legal compliance and ethical business practices. This commitment is a fundamental part of the philosophy upon which we were founded."

Schacter says that costs are kept low because their business model "eliminates the middleman" by producing their own product and selling them in Steve and Barry's stores. They also rely on word-of-mouth instead of national advertising campaigns.

But some leading antisweatshop activists doubt this claim precisely because the shoe is manufactured in China. Jim Keady is a former professional soccer player and coach at St. John's University who is now co-director of the antisweatshop organization Educating for Justice. He is also a member of the City Council in Asbury Park, New Jersey. "One of the key ways to define a sweatshop is whether workers have the right to develop an independent, democratic voice in the workplace either by creating a worker-owned cooperative or an independent trade union," he said to me. "In China both cooperatives and independent trade unions are illegal, and therefore I would bet my professional reputation that these shoes are produced in sweatshop conditions. That said, Asbury Park has a poverty rate of 30 percent. I see kids buying sneakers I know they can't afford, so it is a good thing an affordable sneaker is available."

Scott Nova, from the Worker Rights Consortium, an antisweatshop monitoring group, also disagreed with Schacter's confidence in Steve and Barry's labor practices. "We have found serious human rights violations in factories producing for Steve and Barry's," he told me. "The company's response has been a mixed bag. In one case, the company did take action and progress was achieved. In another, we reported serious violations, including sexual abuse of women workers by managers. Steve and Barry's response was slow and ineffective.

"It is laudable that Steve and Barry's is offering affordable sneakers," Nova continued. "But there is another side to the moral equation: the workers who make the shoes. What are they paid? And what are their conditions of work? Ignoring worker rights could transform a worthy endeavor into another case of sweatshop exploitation. If the low price of these shoes means sweatshop conditions and sub-poverty wages for the workers who make them, then the positive purpose of the enterprise is severely undermined. Stephon Marbury is obviously trying to do something positive and deserves to be applauded for it. Addressing the worker rights issues will enhance his effort."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:49 AM on April 4, 2007


This seems like a good thing. It's refreshing to see a professional athlete actually exhibit signs of conscience.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:54 AM on April 4, 2007


$14.98? What about status? Paging Marx
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 6:57 AM on April 4, 2007


UP NEXT: PAUL WALL'S $40 GRILLZ.
posted by The Straightener at 7:03 AM on April 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


NPR had a good story about this in August 2006.
posted by four panels at 7:07 AM on April 4, 2007


From experience, Nike also has a lot of gimmicky crap. Their SHOX shoes are really narrow, and as a running shoe are sort of a joke. Although, the Nike Dri-Fit stuff is really nice.
posted by four panels at 7:13 AM on April 4, 2007


Didn't Marbury hurt his feet/ankles this season? Something that some people blamed on his shoes?
posted by inigo2 at 7:14 AM on April 4, 2007


Ben Wallace also signed on to the "Starbury movement". While it's an interesting concept (and an interesting choice of spokesman for it) they are NOT "exactly like" their more expensive brethren. From the Basketbawful review:

The leather of the shoe is extremely thin. The tongue of the shoes looks like it's held in by cheap medical gauze. The insole almost fell out when I removed the paper they stuff into the shoe so it holds its shape. Simply put, it's not the best made shoe in the world. But then again, for $15 how could it be?

I was tempted to rate the shoe's construction at 15 Shots, because it's the most well-crafted cheap shoe I've ever seen. However, the shoe is being touted as "exactly like" the most expensive basketball shoes on the market, and that's like saying a Big Mac is "exactly" like filet mignon. If used rigorously, these shoes will not last as long as more expensive shoes. And a Big Mac will give you a worse case of gas then a filet. I'm just sayin'.

posted by Challahtronix at 7:14 AM on April 4, 2007


From The History of Footwear - Foot Fetish and Shoe RetifismThe Talisman:
Ernest Becker argues fetishism represents the anxiety of the sexual act and the fetish itself as a lucky charm that transforms the terrifying reality in to something that transcends anxiety. Performance anxiety is a male fear and this according to Steele (1996) is one reason why fetishism is almost always a male obsession.

The history of fetishism is interesting and there are distinctly two schools of thought. Many believe fetishism has been around for thousands of years whereas others consider it developed only in modern Western society. Freud considered the shoe to represent the female genitals but by the time he wrote about fetishism the foot had been an erogenous zone for centuries. He described the foot as a phallus and when it entered the shoe, union was symbolically complete. Since Freud's original study of fetishism and his description of the geneses of the symptoms, many additions and elaboration have been made to these propositions.
Never diss somebody until you've walked a mile in their, er, ah, shoes.
posted by cenoxo at 7:15 AM on April 4, 2007


I've bought $120 running shoes that sucked, and $10 "hiking shoes" that were okay for walking around. Although, usually my experience with shoes is that you get what you pay for. It wasn't all that important to me when I was 165 pounds, but at 210 it is crucial to get a good shoe.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:17 AM on April 4, 2007


The question is, under what conditions are Marbury's shoes being made?

A very good, extremely intelligent and conscientious friend of mine recently completed a two year stint at Nike where she was hired (from a DC human rights org) to perform an extensive audit of factory worker conditions in all Nike plants in Southeast Asia and the Far East. I have never known her to have any love for corporations of any kind, and when I had dinner with her earlier in the year she did report that Nike had actually made tremendous strides in responding to factory conditions and worker quality of life issues. She said that she had seen none of the nightmarish conditions that she had expected to see. She said, they still need to put more effort into management oversight and quality control, but the problems had been fairly well address and remedied.

Now, this is just one data point obviously, but food for thought.
posted by psmealey at 7:18 AM on April 4, 2007


As I was reading this thread, I wondered to myself if anyone out there DOES make a Fair Trade Shoe.

And the answer is yes.

£39 is about $60... so not exactly the $15 Sweat Shop Special that Marbury endorses. Forgive me for saying so, but I don't think it's possible to make 'ethical footwear' for $15.

Call me cynical.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:24 AM on April 4, 2007


It's cheap because no one would pay more than $14.98 for Starbury's shoes. He sucks.

GO MAVS!
posted by dios at 7:25 AM on April 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


psmealey

I wonder if Nike decided to clean up his operations that because 'The Big One' highlighted their unfair practices or because their CEO suddenly had a crisis of conscience... he certainly didn't seem too upset about poor working conditions when questioned about it...
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:26 AM on April 4, 2007


I'd buy a pair of these today if I could find them in Chicago - just to try them out. I don't see how they could be well made, or last long, but if they look good for a few months and have this interesting background, then thats worth $15 I suppose.

Sweatshop manufacturing does give me pause, but in general my service and goods consumption is so skewed to the left (I buy second hand often via Craig's List and eBay, don't drive, don't own a tv, eat local produce, blah, blah, blah...) that I don't worry too much about it.

I doubt Starbury will crack the black urban shoe fetish market where status is attained in correlation with how much you spend (and also how sparkling white you can keep your shoes) but if he can get duct-tape-wallet wielding hipsters to bust out $15 in found futon change then he'll be the next Hush Puppies.
posted by wfrgms at 7:27 AM on April 4, 2007


I really can't say, chuckdarwin, but I'll wager it's pretty likely. Part of me frankly doesn't care what the motivation is, so long as strides for improvement are being made. At the very least, it's a decent of how citizen activism and media exposure can help shine a light on such injustices and hold these people accountable, even if they are not particularly inclined to hold themselves to a higher standard.
posted by psmealey at 7:31 AM on April 4, 2007


Hmmnnn (puts on thinking cap)...If both shoes are manufactured under similar conditions and shoe A is $15.00 and shoe B is $150.00 then if I buy shoe B because the workers who made it must be getting paid more, I mean why is the shoe so much more expensive... (adjusts thinking cap)...Ohhh, Never mind.

At least the $15.00 shoe is a, ahem, step in the right direction. If anything it at least continues to raise questions about the factories and the workers.
posted by Gungho at 7:32 AM on April 4, 2007


With all due respect, Gungho, Third World shoe factory workers most certainly do not get paid more for making $150 shoes. Companies like Nike makes more.

New slogan: 'Screw the Third World. Just do it.'
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:37 AM on April 4, 2007


Didn't Marbury hurt his feet/ankles this season? Something that some people blamed on his shoes?

as we've recently learned, expensive shoes actually cause more injuries. (what, no barefoot players at all, yet?)
posted by progosk at 7:38 AM on April 4, 2007


In Marbury's old neighborhood, 13-year-old Jahmal Benu played basketball with friends on a windy Coney Island court. He was wearing old-style Jordans. A $15 shoe? "That's too cheap," he said.

Jahmal has a sneaker budget of $200 a month — about the cost of what his mother, a nurse, pays in rent.


That's the hardest part, making inexpensive shoes "cool". And as a side note, a $200.00/month shoe budget for a 13 year old living in the projects???!! WTF??? There are times when American hyper-consumerism just makes me ill.
posted by MikeMc at 7:39 AM on April 4, 2007


psmealey

I really can't say, chuckdarwin, but I'll wager it's pretty likely. Part of me frankly doesn't care what the motivation is, so long as strides for improvement are being made. At the very least, it's a decent of how citizen activism and media exposure can help shine a light on such injustices and hold these people accountable, even if they are not particularly inclined to hold themselves to a higher standard.


You're right, and I agree. People may not like Morgan Spurlock's (for instance) film, but it certainly made McDonald's dump their SuperSize menu in a hurry!

The new adult Happy Meal - a salad, a bottle of water, and a pedometer. You can't make this shit up!
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:40 AM on April 4, 2007


God I hope anyone reading this post who isn't a basketball fan doesn't mistakenly arrive at the view that Stephon Marbury is a good person. He is one of the biggest cancers in the history of the NBA. Every team he has joined had immediately become worse, and every team he has left has instantly become better. The fact that the shoe is called the Starbury should be enough to let you know how much of a tremendous jerk this guy is. Its funny - the sportswriters don't seem to know what to think about this whole thing as it is potentially the first time in his career when Marbury is actutally doing something positive.
posted by JPD at 7:46 AM on April 4, 2007


The fact that the shoe is called the Starbury

Agreed. It sounds like a candy bar.
posted by jonmc at 7:47 AM on April 4, 2007


I have a pair of Starbury's that have lasted much longer than my $100 unswooshers. More comfortable too. I've yet to find any shoe that is cruelty and sweat free and affordable, though I may try something off of chuckdarwin's link next time I'm in the market for footwear.
posted by brevator at 7:48 AM on April 4, 2007


chuckdarwin writes 'As I was reading this thread, I wondered to myself if anyone out there DOES make a Fair Trade Shoe.

'And the answer is yes.'


I was expecting some hippy monstrosities, but the 'No Sweat' Converse-a-likes are pretty decent. Thanks for the link.
posted by jack_mo at 7:50 AM on April 4, 2007


Jahmal has a sneaker budget of $200 a month — about the cost of what his mother, a nurse, pays in rent.

Well I hope he's getting that by stealing, because if his mother is providing it she needs a kick up the arse.
posted by biffa at 7:53 AM on April 4, 2007


I was expecting some hippy monstrosities, but the 'No Sweat' Converse-a-likes are pretty decent.

The concept makes sense but how many people are willing to pay $70.00 for a pair of knock-off Chucks? That's the thing with a lot of fair trade goods, they're just out of reach (pricewise) of the average Joe and the price won't drop until there's greater demand. Kind of a vicious circle.
posted by MikeMc at 7:56 AM on April 4, 2007


Hippies only wear hemp sandals anyways.
posted by smackfu at 8:00 AM on April 4, 2007


Wow, they introduced a bunch of neat new styles this month. I might actually buy a pair now that there's a choice besides "shiny hi-top." I do enjoy me some Steve & Barry's; I'm wearing my their jeans right now, actually, and they're my favorite pair.

I swear I'm not a shill for Steve & Barry's; I'm just a cheap-ass who tries not to notice the bits of Chinese kids' fingers in the seams.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:01 AM on April 4, 2007


Well I hope he's getting that by stealing, because if his mother is providing it she needs a kick up the arse.

I agree. The only time a kid deserves a shoe budget of $2,400 a year is when he is pulling a 4.0 and has donated an organ to save another kid and spend most of his free time doing charity work.

This does go to show that poverty is not always a result of circumstance, that money could be going towards his college fund
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 8:01 AM on April 4, 2007


CSR Asia is a good resource on a lot of these issues (though I'm a bit of a CSR sceptic (PDF) myself).
posted by Abiezer at 8:05 AM on April 4, 2007


I would be tempted to buy a pair of these.
posted by drezdn at 8:06 AM on April 4, 2007


How do those "No Sweat" shoes not get shut down for copyright infringement on Chuck Taylors? Or are there enough differences (logo in circle, text on back) to make them unique, like Bapestas vs. Nike Air Force Ones?

And as much as I dislike Stephon the TWolves were worse the year after he left. He doesn't seem as "cancerous" as he used to, but that may be because he's on the same team with Steve "inoperable malignant tumor" Francis.
posted by Challahtronix at 8:08 AM on April 4, 2007


And as a side note, a $200.00/month shoe budget for a 13 year old living in the projects???!! WTF???

Your tax dollars at work.
posted by four panels at 8:10 AM on April 4, 2007


jack_mo said: Thanks for the link.

You're welcome. I kind of like those shoes, myself. I never wear trainers, but I might just splash out of a pair of those if the fashion policewoman doesn't veto them on grounds of general ugliness. £39 is a small price to pay for a sense of smug superiority ;-)
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:11 AM on April 4, 2007


Man I need to road trip down to Niagra Falls to pick up a few pairs.
posted by thecjm at 8:14 AM on April 4, 2007


Seconding JPD. I'd be much more enthusiastic about these shoes if it was anyone besides Stephon Marbury supporting them.
posted by saladin at 8:15 AM on April 4, 2007


With the possible exception being Tim Thomas. And Delonte West. I guess what I'm saying is, when is Kurt Rambis going to introduce his own $15 shoe?
posted by saladin at 8:17 AM on April 4, 2007


And speaking of Lebron James being a tool -- being unfortunate enough to live in Cleveland, where he is treated as some sort of minor deity second only to beer and pierogis, you hear a LOT of stupid crap about him.

Last week's big news on all the local channels? Lebron builds giant tacky, AaronSpelling-esque house with its own movie theatre, bowling alley, recording studio and barbershop. He has his own freaking barbershop!

I'm sorry -- I know he's just a kid (with appalling parental role models: his mom tried to get out of a DUI because ooooh! she's Lebron's mom!), but I cannot stand seeing these overpaid sportsball children of all ages acting out with their money in the dumbest ways imaginable. I hate hearing the local media refer to him as "King James." I hate that every word that falls from his precious freaking lips is treated as gospel. I hate that there are BUILDING-SIZED posters of him on the sides of stuff downtown.

In short: I hate the sportsball.

However, I applaud Starbury's attempts to make shoes more affordable for their intended audience -- no manufacturing process is ever going to be as lily-white as we want it to be (American Apparel? Sweatshop free, made in LA... but owned and run by a perv). And if it were, the shoes would cost as much as the celeb-endorsed Nike monstrosities. (MikeMc had it right about the vicious circle)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:22 AM on April 4, 2007


-wow....i thought the NSA had a lotta money to waste!! now i realize the NBA is a bigger threat to our civil liberties!!
posted by OU812 at 8:27 AM on April 4, 2007


Part of the reason kids liked the expensive shoes was the status symbolism of showing off that they could afford them.

Right, but why don't they buy expensive socks? There's nothing inherent about shoes that makes them status symbols. There are a wide variety of potential status symbols, and shoes are among the worst, because they have no long-term value. Even gold chains are better status symbols, because they can be resold. And further down the spectrum, university degrees are a pretty good status symbol.
posted by scottreynen at 8:30 AM on April 4, 2007


More from Slate and SportsFilter.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:31 AM on April 4, 2007


>Jahmal has a sneaker budget of $200 a month — about the cost of what his mother, a nurse, pays in rent.

Well I hope he's getting that by stealing, because if his mother is providing it she needs a kick up the arse.


Presumably they live in subsidized housing. So it's essentially a government gift for companies that make consumer items for poor people. She could pay market-rate rent, but then the money would go to some sucker landlord who probably doesn't even own politicians like Nike does.

This way Nike, mouthbreathers in the projects AND government employees get something out of it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:31 AM on April 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


I guess what I'm saying is, when is Kurt Rambis going to introduce his own $15 shoe?

As soon as they find a cost-effective way of making new sneakers look like they smell bad.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:34 AM on April 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


MikeMc asks: ...how many people are willing to pay $70.00 for a pair of knock-off Chucks?

*raises hand* I'm no vegan, but I do *try* and give a shit about the world in my own lazy, spoilt way.

If I'm given a choice between spending slightly more and rewarding some executive for exploiting cheap labour, I'll spend the money.

I used to work for Dell tech support... used to being the operative phrase.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:37 AM on April 4, 2007


Right, but why don't they buy expensive socks?

Unless one is wearing shorts, socks can't be seen. There is no way to avoid noticing someone's shoes, unless they are wearing ME style clothing.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 8:39 AM on April 4, 2007


MikeMc writes 'The concept makes sense but how many people are willing to pay $70.00 for a pair of knock-off Chucks? That's the thing with a lot of fair trade goods, they're just out of reach (pricewise) of the average Joe and the price won't drop until there's greater demand. Kind of a vicious circle.'

True in general, but the No Sweats are the same price as most styles of Converse All-Stars in the UK.
posted by jack_mo at 8:40 AM on April 4, 2007


These will look great with my Louie Anderson designer jeans.
posted by RavinDave at 8:45 AM on April 4, 2007


If I'm given a choice between spending slightly more and rewarding some executive for exploiting cheap labour, I'll spend the money.

Which is great if you have the extra money. I'm no hippie but I'll spend a little more for things like fair trade coffee beans (Alterra FTW) but I only have so much room in my budget. It's hard to shop for fair trade goods when you don't have a lot of extra money to spend.
posted by MikeMc at 8:47 AM on April 4, 2007


"It sounds like a candy bar."

To be fair, "jonmc's list of things that don't sound like food items" is pretty small.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:56 AM on April 4, 2007


God I hope anyone reading this post who isn't a basketball fan doesn't mistakenly arrive at the view that Stephon Marbury is a good person.

Because goodness in a man is measured in team play, sportswriter & fan suck up and most importantly wins? I hope you, as a basketball fan, get some perspective someday and realize that a game shouldn't be the measure of a man. I need to believe this because I never played a paladin in AD&D. Marbury is a mediocre basketball player but not necessarily a bad person.

(I realize I am, somewhat ridiculously, expecting perspective from someone who is probably a long suffering New York basketball fan)
posted by srboisvert at 9:01 AM on April 4, 2007


I say that someone should make discount Chuck Taylors and sell them as Air Maravich.
posted by jonmc at 9:04 AM on April 4, 2007


Where's the fun in shooting someone for a pair of 15 dollar shoes?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:06 AM on April 4, 2007


psmealey typed "I really can't say, chuckdarwin, but I'll wager it's pretty likely. Part of me frankly doesn't care what the motivation is, so long as strides for improvement are being made. At the very least, it's a decent of how citizen activism and media exposure can help shine a light on such injustices and hold these people accountable, even if they are not particularly inclined to hold themselves to a higher standard."

Agreed. It drives me crazy when we expect corps not just to act ethically, but to feel really happy inside about acting ethically too.

"I'm not going to give my dog a treat for doing that trick. If he really loved me, he'd have rolled over without being promised a reward."

By the way, I remember reading years ago that Adbusters was starting its own shoe company. Did anything ever become of that?
posted by roll truck roll at 9:07 AM on April 4, 2007


Just out of curiousity, I wonder if they even looked for a company in the United States to make these or if they just went directly to China.
posted by drstein at 9:07 AM on April 4, 2007


Well, they could always ask American Apparel to branch out. Then you could do your perp walk in 'em when you get busted for being a pervo.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:11 AM on April 4, 2007


You know, the moment I heard about this a few months ago, I thought: Awesome. Just seriously and without reservation: Awesome. The first basketball player - indeed one of the only pro athletes period - to directly address the socioeconomic consequences of their endorsements. The shoes were selling well, getting great press, if they were the start of even a freakish niche of social conscience in pro sports - super.

Ah, but of course, as the only pro baller in the league to be addressing the social costs of expensive shoes for urban America, he must also take on Third World sweatshop labour and perhaps the entire global trade regime and settle the civil war in the Congo and walk on water on pay-per-view and donate every dime of it to your pet goddamn charity, or else he's just another posturing feel-good tool of the system.

Say it with me, people, write it 100 times on the chalkboard: Pefect is not the enemy of the good.
posted by gompa at 9:13 AM on April 4, 2007 [12 favorites]


Free Mumia.
posted by psmealey at 9:20 AM on April 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Where's the fun in shooting someone for a pair of 15 dollar shoes?

Practice.
posted by drezdn at 9:25 AM on April 4, 2007 [5 favorites]


I'm as shocked as everyone else that this is Stephon Marbury doing this. By all accounts (he calls himself Starbury, for one thing. Nobody else does.) he's one of the most self-involved assholes on the court, and has arguably done far more harm than good for the Knicks since he started playing for them. (Of course, NOBODY is as bad as Steve Francis in this regard. Steve Francis who got pissed off that he had to play on the same team as someone as talented as Yao Ming and then refused to pass him the ball.) Still, whatever his motivation, I think these are a great idea, though less likely to catch on in Bed-Stuy than they will in Williamsburg.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:28 AM on April 4, 2007


Pefect is not the enemy of the good.

Don't spell it properly when you write it, either. Just to, you know, underscore the point . . .

posted by gompa at 9:32 AM on April 4, 2007


When I play basketball, I use a magic marker and draw shoes right onto my bare feet. High Performance for under a dollar!
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:33 AM on April 4, 2007


"Because goodness in a man is measured in team play, sportswriter & fan suck up and most importantly wins? I hope you, as a basketball fan, get some perspective someday and realize that a game shouldn't be the measure of a man. I need to believe this because I never played a paladin in AD&D. Marbury is a mediocre basketball player but not necessarily a bad person."

Because if a person acts terribly towards his co-workers, but sees fit to be generous with his money he is a good person? When most people who personally have a relationship with someone dislike that person it says something more about that person then what that person chooses to do with his money.

Realize my dislike of Marbury has a lot less to do with his performance on the baskeball court and a lot more to do with his behavior and personality.
posted by JPD at 9:38 AM on April 4, 2007


I was expecting some hippy monstrosities, but the 'No Sweat' Converse-a-likes are pretty decent.

I have a pair of the low tops and they smell. Like a weird latex rubber smell. It's gone down a little since I got them almost a year ago but it's still there and pretty strong (I can smell it while wearing them).
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:42 AM on April 4, 2007


it makes me happy that the basic, no-frills Adidas soccer shoe is still in production from, like, the mid 1970s, and it's still a big seller. it's also much, much cheaper than the newer, snazzy, crazy-looking models. I have it on good authority that many VERY famous soccer players would still use that same, unbeatable 1970s model -- too bad that endorsement money is way, way too sweet.

no matter how much ads try to convince us otherwise, I'm quite positive that shoe technology -- for most sports, at least, I'm sure there are exceptions -- has already kind of peaked.

there has been massive progress, of course, but at least for soccer, track and volleyball -- the sports I'm most familiar with -- mid to late 1980s shoes are as good as the 2007 models. they just cannot charge that much for the older style shoes, that's all.

(and by the way, those newer, plasticky looking horribly expensive latest-generation soccer balls are just bad).
posted by matteo at 9:56 AM on April 4, 2007


BTW, No Sweats are significantly cheaper in the U.S. Like, half as much. I'm wearing chocolate low-tops right now, and if you'd rather skip that link, I'll tell you - $34. Mine smell just like the Chucks used to, fwiw (not strong, either). The only problem is that they're not available in half sizes, so there's a 50% chance they'll fit you as well as Chucks (I lost that coinflip - fyi, UK 9 No Sweats are a shade bigger than US 10 Chucks). Except for the toe-cap looking a little different and the different branding, they are pretty much identical to the original.

Based on the review of the Starburys and my experience with these, I wouldn't be surprised if these are twice as durable as Starburys, and therefore as good a deal. Plus, union made.

no i don't work there
posted by pinespree at 10:07 AM on April 4, 2007


Jahmal has a sneaker budget of $200 a month — about the cost of what his mother, a nurse, pays in rent.

If that's the way things are today, my kids are going to hate me when it comes around to shoe-buying time.
posted by davejay at 10:09 AM on April 4, 2007


Lentrohamsanin: but you still have them, and still wear them, a year later. That's better than I can say about most (or any) of my shoes.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:11 AM on April 4, 2007


You and me both, davejay. If & when we get around to having kids, they're gonna have to LIKE the thrift store/garage sale look as much as their mom and grandma do...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:12 AM on April 4, 2007


drstein: I wondered the same thing. Can't we make anything in this country? How much would it add to the price to make those shoes in a renovated abandoned factory in the ghetto where Marbury grew up?

It is awesome that he's making a low-priced shoe that most kids can actually afford -- good to hear Shaq is doing a similar thing -- but the NBA player who brings decent cheap shoes and jobs to his former ghetto is gonna be a fucking saint.
posted by kenlayne at 10:21 AM on April 4, 2007


Mayor Curley: The LATimes article actually states that the $200 a month shoe budget comes from the kid's sister; it's unspecified whether the sister lives in the same apartment with the mother, or in any subsidized housing.

Granted: the kid's a complete jackass, and I hope he gets a wedgie.

Also Granted: I have no idea how many kids living in the projects in NYC spend that much per month on shoes. I actually have no idea how they could...

But, in the end, should we be tying the value of subsidized housing to what people do with it? If you were to look at the economic life of a big city like New York, then I would suspect that the removal of that housing would probably screw everything by making it impossible for many of its workers to live there. And on the moral end of things, do we really want a city where only rich people can have kids?
posted by goodglovin77 at 10:23 AM on April 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Good for him.

Although "NBA wildly talented underachiever and malcontent" would be a bit more fitting description than "NBA star."

Really, I don't know if anyone in the league has more pure offensive ability than Marbury, and that includes Lebron James and Kobe Bryant. He's just never quite gotten it together to be the great player he should have been.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:30 AM on April 4, 2007


goodglovin77 : But, in the end, should we be tying the value of subsidized housing to what people do with it? If you were to look at the economic life of a big city like New York, then I would suspect that the removal of that housing would probably screw everything by making it impossible for many of its workers to live there.

I try to think about the NYC housing market and just can't hold it all in my mind at the same time. There's rent control, projects, tenant-based section 8, employer- and institution-subsidized housing (Thanks, Mrs These Premises Are Alarmed!), and demand, demand, demand. And all that having been said, there are 1-bedroom condos in my neighborhood for under $100k. Would the price of those units go up if all these other controls were removed? Sorry for the derail.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 10:39 AM on April 4, 2007


By the way, I remember reading years ago that Adbusters was starting its own shoe company. Did anything ever become of that?

If i remember correctly, the no-sweats were originally done in part with adbusters.

as i recall, they spent some time (a year? 2?) accepting orders until they had enough to get the start up capital needed to actually start making the shoes.
posted by teishu at 10:43 AM on April 4, 2007


Lentrohamsanin: but you still have them, and still wear them, a year later. That's better than I can say about most (or any) of my shoes.

I don't wear them very often though, mainly because of the smell, so they haven't gotten a lot of use. Though based on pinespree's post that may just be a personal thing on my part (I don't remember Chucks having a strong smell, but it's been over a decade since I last owned a pair).
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:50 AM on April 4, 2007


Adbusters' Shoes
posted by jtron at 12:07 PM on April 4, 2007


One of the key ways to define a sweatshop is whether workers have the right to develop an independent, democratic voice in the workplace either by creating a worker-owned cooperative or an independent trade union.

Hmm . . . exactly the proof I've been looking for that Walmart stores are nothing but sweatshops . . .
posted by flug at 12:13 PM on April 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


The often overlooked and always excellent Hakeem Olajuwon did this back in around '96, signing an endorsement deal with Spalding to sell $35 dollar shoes. At the time he cited a desire for low income kids and working parents with multiple children to be able to afford his shoe.

The rarely overlooked and sometimes excellent Shaquille O'Neal has been selling his Shaq line at Payless for a few years now at about $30 a pair. I'm not sure what his purpose was, but I'm sure there was a hilariously sarcastic, logically abstract interview given on the topic.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:34 PM on April 4, 2007


It is awesome that he's making a low-priced shoe that most kids can actually afford -- good to hear Shaq is doing a similar thing -- but the NBA player who brings decent cheap shoes and jobs to his former ghetto is gonna be a fucking saint.

Nah, Ken. They're too busy building new houses with their own freaking barbershops.

'Cause, you know, we don't have any ghettoes or poor people here in NE Ohio.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:38 PM on April 4, 2007


"One of the key ways to define a sweatshop is whether workers have the right to develop an independent, democratic voice in the workplace either by creating a worker-owned cooperative or an independent trade union," he said to me.

Then someone really needs to show this guy a goddamn Wal-Mart, or even your usual office. Trying any of that stuff in a Regular Business will get your ass either canned or reamed in ways that would make Torquemada swoon with joy.
posted by mephron at 12:45 PM on April 4, 2007


God I hope anyone reading this post who isn't a basketball fan doesn't mistakenly arrive at the view that Stephon Marbury is a good person. He is one of the biggest cancers in the history of the NBA.

He pledged $500,000 of his money for victims of Hurricane Katrina. I don't know how much he has actually paid. Anyone?

He's just never quite gotten it together to be the great player he should have been.

Legendary? Of course not. Great? Debatable. From wikipedia: "he stands as only the second player in NBA history to have career averages of at least 20 points and 8 assists per game"

Sure, a random classification, but still impressive. I am a basketball fan, and I think he's been a great pro. He's certainly performed under expectations, but so what?

Marbury is one of those guys like LeBron James and Lawrence Funderburke. They get so much attention starting from when they are 12-15 years old that anything less than perennial NBA All-Star and World Champion is a disappointment. Bollocks.

And, oh, heaven fucking forbid if a non-basketball fan mistakenly got the impression that Stephon Marbury was a "good person." Oh no, he is not!! And it is important!!

I love pro sports, but I've come to loathe the majority of "sports fans" and "sports culture."
posted by mrgrimm at 12:49 PM on April 4, 2007


NBA Good Guys from The Sporting News (2003).
posted by mrgrimm at 1:10 PM on April 4, 2007


Or what we call in our house: "the sportsball," mrgrimm.

"The sportsball" was directly lifted from the head of Stitch and Bitch Cleveland who, while helping me out at a knitting show in Cleveland, said to some deranged Steelers fan looking for black and yellow yarn: "I'm sorry. I don't follow the sportsball."
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:12 PM on April 4, 2007


goodglovin77: But, in the end, should we be tying the value of subsidized housing to what people do with it?

Yes, inasmuch as a family that has 200 dollars of income so disposable that they spend it on shoes every month should be paying at least 200 dollars more a month in rent. Or else the government should be giving me money for rent so that I can spend 200 more dollars a month on frivolous and then I won;t be able to complain.

I realize that welfare to families is a small cost compared to welfare to corporations and weapons we'll never use and that stuff. But that is one major sense of entitlement to take government handouts for rent and turn around to spend it on overpriced shoes. solely to be ostentatious.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:10 PM on April 4, 2007


Re:
With all the opposition to socialism around, it's strange that the US seems to employ policies that reflect the philosophy's bad side, without letting it affect any areas where it might actually be needed, like, say, health care.
posted by tehloki at 4:27 PM on April 4, 2007


With all the opposition to socialism around, it's strange that the US seems to employ policies that reflect the philosophy's bad side, without letting it affect any areas where it might actually be needed, like, say, health care.

Well of course. That takes money out of insurance corporations' hands. It's much better for oligarchs if you give needy people money that they'll stupidly give right back to you-- the government looks like it's doing something while enriching the companies that own it, and not doing a thing to see to it that this cycle ends.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:36 PM on April 4, 2007


Proletariats working for capitalists who are governed by democrats which are controlled by socialists?
posted by tehloki at 4:52 PM on April 4, 2007


Did you People even read the Article?

The kid has 200 dollars a month because his sister with a job gives it to him.

His mother can't afford 2400 dollars a year for shoes but his sister bribes him to get good grades with shoe money.

"Malika Augustin, who works as an assistant in a law office, said she agreed to help her brother..."
posted by Megafly at 5:28 PM on April 4, 2007


That's great but YOU'RE STILL A KNICK MARBURY! HAHAHAHA!
posted by Mister_A at 6:01 PM on April 4, 2007


So is there any place to buy these online? *cough*
posted by mindless progress at 8:34 PM on April 4, 2007


Mindless progress, not from the storefront, but yes from resellers on ebay and suchlike.

Lentrohamsanin, you are supposed to dull your sense of smell with patchouli when you wear vegan shoes.

nosweatapparel.com mentioned above as a fair trade/vegan hightop seller is taking coupon code CAMPESINO for $5 off.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:49 PM on April 4, 2007


Vegetarian Shoes are ethically made, too. And their boots are indestructible.
posted by cmonkey at 1:33 AM on April 5, 2007


The money quote was Marbury responding to James dissing his cheap sneaker: "I'd rather own than be owned."

I just wanted to highlight and repeat how cool and good this is for the consumer side of things, regardless of how issues on the production side are playing out. even right-Libertarians would agree.
posted by eustatic at 6:33 AM on April 5, 2007


This weekend I went to Steve & Barry's and picked up a pair of Starbury Cyclones. The style of the cyclone reminds me a bit of New Balance or similar running shows. It's a nice looking shoe, and was apparently on sale(?) for $10.

While kids obsessed with expensive shoes probably won't buy these, while at the store, I became convinced that they'll probably develop a following among budget conscious suburban parents (ie. the type I had growing up), looking to not blow the budget on their kids' shoes.

The other thing I could see happening, would be that if these catch on with poor art students, it could develop a following ala chuck taylor's.

When I get paid next, I plan on heading back out and picking up another pair.
posted by drezdn at 7:45 AM on April 9, 2007


The other cool advantage of Starbury's would be customization. You could experiment with tricking out a $15 pair of shoes in ways that you wouldn't even consider with expensive ones.

I | starburys.
posted by drezdn at 9:07 AM on April 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


We drove sixty miles to get some. I was able to get my kid three pairs of shoes for less than I can find at Wal-Mart; money is an issue for us.

I got black Starbury-One's that I would have to call elegant. We'll see how well they wear.

Marbury is who he is. Give him credit for going outside of himself and doing something good for people without much money.
posted by dragonsi55 at 4:28 PM on April 21, 2007


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