Is $250 too much to spend on a pair of Air Jordans?
Even when they look like ... this?
Nike (NKE) is betting that shoppers will step up and take the plunge on its latest Air Jordan model -- the new Air Jordan XX8 -- despite the "stealth" look and black zippered overshoes that are more reminiscent of banker's spats than high-top sneakers. Yes, that black sleeve zips up over all of the neon green, and the wearer's ankles, when it's game time.
It's a look that, even Nike admits, isn't for everyone.
"The reality is Nike is never going to tell us to just be safe because that's not Nike," Jordan brand president Larry Miller told ESPN at the Air Jordan XX8 launch this week in New York City. "The goal is to get the brand to be hot today and not just the products that were sold in the past."
And early reviews have not been positive. USA Today called the style "absolutely hideous," while Yahoo! Sports pointed out that, despite the zip up overshoe, the XX8 is "not a rain shoe." MSN simply referred to them as the shoes that "everybody hates."
Of course, the new Air Jordan is far from the most expensive shoe in the Nike lineup. The latest LeBron X model made news this summer during the London Olympics when it was announced that the LeBron James-inspred shoe would retail for $315, although it has since been marked down below $300.
"We are constantly looking at ways to enhance the product line with the new innovation and product attributes," Nike's Mary Remuzzi told The Wall Street Journal when the LeBron X was announced, assuring buyers that the company wasn't arbitrarily driving up prices.
As for the Air Jordan XX8, the 28th member of the "Air Jordan" line, it will be released Feb. 15, 2013 in Houston, Texas before launching nationwide on Feb. 16.
What do you think? Is the Air Jordan XX8 truly cutting edge style at a premium price, or just an ugly, ugly shoe?