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Footwear July, 28 2014

‘The Wall Street Journal’ Explores Buscemi and “The Key to Selling an $800 Sneaker”

The Wall Street Journal explores what it takes to sell an $800 USD sneaker to the marketplace in a spotlight of Jon Buscemi and the company that shares his surname. Noting his roots in the sneaker world, his Birkin bag-inspired strategy, and his celebrity-fueled endorsers that reinforce the exclusive nature of the product, it’s certainly an interesting read. While a choice excerpt appears below, head here to read the entire piece.

The brand’s co-founder and creative director, Jon Buscemi, who started his career as a stockbroker, said he was able to snag prized shelf space in ritzy stores for his unknown shoe line by taking the sneaker industry’s limited-edition strategy to the extreme. Instead of issuing a series of limited-run models, he decided to invent a whole brand that would be known for its scarcity.

He said he was inspired by the Hermès Birkin bag—an expensive, sought-after handbag that the French company doesn’t advertise and offers only to selected customers.

Mr. Buscemi and his partners said they wanted to create a sneaker-world equivalent. “I can’t just walk around with a purse,” said Buscemi’s vice president of marketing, Rob Heppler, a streetwear blogger who was working at an ad agency when he helped hatch the plan with Mr. Buscemi, his friend.

Mr. Buscemi designs the shoes, which are handmade in Civitanova, Italy, at a factory that also produces goods for companies including Chanel.

Buscemi is just one of many brands benefiting from the popularity of sneakers. Shoe makers have spurred demand by issuing more limited-edition models each year, offering consumers an “opportunity for uniqueness,” according to Matt Powell, a sneaker-market analyst at SportsOneSource, a market-research company. The average price of the 300 million pairs of men’s sneakers sold in the U.S. last year was $65, Mr. Powell said. But according to retailers, there is virtually no price resistance at the highest-end of the market.

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