There is a new sneaker that was created through a collaboration between Nike and the artist Tom Sachs, and it is uninteresting. At the very least, this is how the designer and the massive shoe manufacturer have billed their latest iteration of the General Purpose Sneaker (GPS). In the advertising that was running in the days leading up to the introduction of the shoe on Friday morning, it was implied that the shoe was dull, and the language claimed that “your sneakers shouldn’t be the most fascinating thing about you.” This, of course, originates from the brand that is largely responsible for the fact that our shoes are the most thrilling, treasure-hunt-worthy, and coveted things that we have in our closets. Nike and Tom Sachs are attempting to solve an unsolvable conundrum with the launch of their newest sneaker. The question is whether or not a brand can maintain its buzz while still improving its accessibility. The publication of the GPS gives us a glance at the technique that Nike is employing to walk a tightrope, despite the fact that it is likely an unsolvable mystery.
Sachs is already among the most hyped-up and highly resellable sneakers on the Mount Rushmore of footwear brands. On StockX, his first iteration of the Mars Yard sneaker, which debuted in 2012, can be purchased for an average of approximately $8,600. Nevertheless, he seems to be most pleased with this particular sneaker. It reportedly took ten years to design the GPS system. According to the website for Nike, he stated, “It took a decade to design a shoe that is this simple, as simple as it can be and no simpler.” The shoe had all the makings of a huge hit in 2022: an all-star designer, a compelling tale, and a sneaker with every element tuned for maximum appeal. However, the shoe was impossible to purchase upon its general release and has become a supernova on the secondary market. Consequently, why did Nike and Sachs try to distance themselves from that?
The campaign that Patagonia is famous for, which is titled “Don’t Buy This Jacket,” feels very similar to what Nike is doing by branding itself “boring.” (The design of Nike also borrows heavily from the aesthetic of Volkswagen’s “Lemon” advertisement.) This is a business model that has proven to be extremely profitable for Patagonia in terms of its bottom line. Sales skyrocketed after the outdoor brand sued the former president of the United States. Nike is looking for a strategy that is analogous to this one.
The fact that Nike and Sachs are both producing sneakers that have been described as “boring” at the same time is definitely not a complete coincidence. In the fall of 2017, Complex published a story on a presentation that was given at an inside Nike meeting regarding discontent with the SNKRS app, which is responsible for the brand’s most hyped-up launches. According to what was stated in the presentation, “We are in danger of losing our most sneaker-obsessed consumer.” “High heat and excitement are ‘destroying the culture,’ and consumers are flocking towards New Balance and other smaller, independent firms,” Not only did Nike dismiss their newest hot shoe as uninteresting, but the company also primarily concentrated on showcasing the sneaker in a worn and unclean state, doing anything but displaying it in its original packaging, ready to be easily resold.
It’s possible that Nike may use the debut of the General Purpose Shoe as a model for gently maintaining enthusiasm for future products. On the SNKRS app, the sneakers did not become available for purchase at the scheduled time. Instead, buyers were asked to sign up for the giveaway on Sachs’s website, and they were told within half an hour if their submission was chosen (not all that different from the process on the SNKRS app). Naturally, there was a frenzy over the shoes, and they were gone in no time. On StockX, where they are currently being resold for an average of $573 each, there have already been 768 sales transacted of this item.
The clincher is that Sachs continued to make promises of further pairs even after all of the previous ones had been claimed. On Twitter, he explained that “The General Purpose Shoe is designed to be a perennial.” “In August of 2022, it will once again be stocked and available to users.” In this approach, Nike and Sachs can have their cake and eat it too: they can produce a sneaker that is an instant hit while yet maintaining the illusion that it is readily available. There is talk that the shoes will also be available in a second colorway that features a mustard-like hue. Customers will have multiple opportunities to be annoyed, excited, and irritated by the shoes in this manner. Anything but dull.