BEAVERTON, United States — Gamers, you’ll want to set down your controllers for this. Sony Corp. and Nike Inc. announced on Saturday a collaboration on a limited-edition, PlayStation-inspired sneaker with Oklahoma City Thunder star and gaming enthusiast Paul George.
The PG2 sports the same hues as a PlayStation controller’s buttons (green, blue, pink, and purple), glow-in-the-dark rubber soles, and a starry galaxy print on the sock liner. The most entrancing feature, however, is a tongue that, with the press of a button secreted within the shoe, lights up and and vibrates like the aforementioned a PlayStation controller. The battery isn’t replaceable, but with a 150-hour lifespan, it should be fine so long as you remember to turn it off. The shoes will be available worldwide beginning February 10, with a price tag of $110.
Nike, the brand that pioneered the limited-release sneaker with the original Air Jordans, has been amping up direct-to-customer sales of rare kicks as part of a broader business strategy. In a key earnings report last year, sales in the critical North American division fell 3 percent from a year earlier, raising the question: could direct-to-customer sales of limited edition sneakers solve the problem of Nike’s stagnant sales?
In the past year, the company has unveiled a huge number of collaborations, which include the Nike SB Dunk High Pro “Momofuku,” a dark-denim line produced with New York-based chef David Chang; the Air Jordan 6 “Gatorade,” a lime green shoe inspired by the sports drink; and the Kith x Nike LeBron 15 "Long Live the King" collection with the Ronnie Fieg-helmed, street-gear retailer Kith, to name just a few.
Two recent mobile app innovations—SNKRS Stash, which uses geo-locations to unlock access to prized Nike and Jordan products, and Shock Drop, which delivers alerts to purchase hard-to-find sneakers—have helped fuel demand.
The strategy is potentially lucrative for the shoe giant. Last year, Nike’s direct-to-customer channel grew eight times faster than its wholesale business. Although the category generated only $9.1 billion in revenue, roughly just 28 percent of Nike’s overall brand sales, it accounted for 70 percent of its growth. There’s no sign things will different in 2018: In September, Chief Executive Officer Mark Parker told Bloomberg that the company is fully committed to transforming the experience of shopping for Nikes into a more personal one. “Retailers who don’t embrace distinction will be left behind,” he said.
By Rachel Tepper Paley; editor: Chris Rovzar.