Nike will doubtless be hoping that the latest bit of buzz around the shoes gives the brand a boost and helps bolster their influence as Adidas eats into market share. Nike Inc announced results for its most recent quarter on Wednesday and reported a 4 per cent fall in share price before closing the day 1.9 per cent lower. Sales declined in its most recent quarter, to $9.07bn, only a minor change from the same time last year, and less of a fall than expected. The sportswear giant is set to overhaul the business; in June it shared plans to cut 2 per cent of its international workforce. The limited-edition shoes cost £620, so individual sales aren’t exactly going to single-handedly lift Nike’s profits, but the mix of innovation, story and an emotional connection between consumer and product is part of what informs Nike’s brand identity.
Hatfield says: “Apple is kind of our model; they want to be first and they are doing something that no one else is doing, so they get it out there and tell a good story. We have different strategies: some shoes are designed to shake up the country club a little bit and others are going to be more evolutionary in nature, not revolutionary. Sometimes you have to back off from being too crazy.”
Sometimes, though, the public do catch on, as with the Sock Dart, a stretchy, tubular sock on top of a sole, which Hatfield launched 15 years ago, only to see it “catch fire” in recent sales.
But how many customers actually need the sporting technology of the self-lacing shoe? Hatfield says: “Our primary customer is the athlete, but we also know the bulk of our sales come from people looking for comfort and fashion. It’s like the car that goes at 150mph. No one drives at that speed, but it’s the coolest cars that go fast.”