Is Nike killing its hype?

Credit where credit due, Nike have had a pretty good run lately. That’s across the board, their latest Q3 results were strong (revenues traded +7% to $9 billion), their share price has recently jumped (+6% after the Q3 announcements) and their social media growth is insane (in 2016 they claimed the 19th biggest following on instagram, as of now they’re 2nd). However I can’t help but think that they are, to an extent, a ticking time bomb. Well from a sneakers perspective at least.

“I can’t help but think that they are, to an extent, a ticking time bomb”

A large part of this credible set of results  is due to their consistent, high volume of sneaker launches that seem to happen every other day these days. Granted, we’ve got some great sneakers as a result; the off-white 10, the sean wotherspoon air 97 and the ACW AF1 collaboration to name a few, but the most prominent thing from the list is they’re all collaborations. This leads me to my first point;

The volume of collaborations is constantly growing and as a result it’s draining the impact that each one creates. Just looking at sneaker launches over the next month Nike have 10 collabs, 2 of which are further off-white designs. Whilst the hype for these are still strong with Virgil’s appointment to Louis Vuitton and they will undoubtedly sell out the fact this second wave (the EU exclusive AJ1 excluded) is releasing just 5 months after the first will undoubtedly cause a dent in the two main barometers for hype; exclusivity and resale value, with both set to drop as the range becomes more accessible and further more volume saturates the market. You only have to look at the way Adidas have mishandled the Yeezy hype, pushing numerous colour-ways within the space of a few months to the point that resale has dropped ten-fold and the latest powerphase didn’t even sell out. It looks like that Nike could take the Off-White collab in the same direction to try and regain their previous foot-hold in the resale market.

“You only have to look at the way Adidas have mishandled the Yeezy hype”

But collaborations aren’t the prime example of Nike killing its hype, it’s their core range. From Huaraches to Vapormax there seems to be a clear lack of creativity or product management. Lets start with the huaraches, a shoe which if managed well would be ideal for the chunky but comfort led trends of today. Instead, due to the overwhelming push of the shoe to seemingly every store going, along with enough colour ways to fill a rainbow 20 times over it seemed that every other person in site had a pair on their feet and as mentioned before, nothing kills hype like a lack of exclusivity.

The more modern day examples are the hyped vapormax and air max 97 silhouettes, which granted, have been managed better since their rise to prominence over the past year in terms of number of releases. But the warning signs are creeping in from a creativity side, the air max 97’s staple style at the moment is the silver bullet, a rehash of the original classic. The vapormax is a plain blackout edition. Neither are particularly inspiring and no further releases have had the same impact. The worrying factor is that the way Nike seem to be combatting this is by combining the styles, rinsing the once rarity of the silver bullet style and the uniqueness of the vapormax for all it’s worth.

With rumours floating about of Drake’s potential jumping of ship to rivals Adidas in order to get a taste of the creative freedom that’s been granted to Kanye West, the Nike offices must be coming to the realisation that something has got to change in the long run. This needs to come from combining more limited and unique pieces whilst maintaining a core range that trades along all year round with minimal changes. This way you can keep the masses happy, which Nike obviously need to cater for, while also maintaining the interest of the sneaker heads through unique pieces that drive traffic not though resale potential like current times (although this will always be a factor) but through genuine interest in the creative process and the story behind the piece à la the sean wotherspoon release. Whether Nike head towards this style after the success of the sean wotherspoon remains to be seen, but it could be a stale future for everyone if not.