How Much Does it Cost to Make Lonzo Ball’s $495 Sneaker?
The upstart shoe company Big Baller Brand™ is making a big splash with its release of Lonzo Ball’s sneaker. The ZO2 Prime signature basketball shoe is priced at $495.00. Meanwhile, the company’s founder, LaVar Ball, has become a controversial figure in the sports marketing world with his BILLION dollar contract demands. We are going to take a closer look at the new shoe.
Love it or hate it, let’s see if the ZO2 Prime’s $495 price tag is justified by the design.
The Big Baller Brand ZO2 Prime: Price $495.00
Before we dive into the Big Baller Brand design, let’s do a quick breakdown on a basic sneaker costing model. If Nike™ released a $495 shoe into the normal retail distribution chain, the retail store would earn $250 of the $495 selling price. This $250 is a normal wholesale price for a $495.00 shoe. If you keep working the numbers backward you can assume $1.50 for shipping, 20% for import duty, and the industry standard margin of 50%. Thus, a $250 wholesale cost would mean the shoe costs Nike about $90.00 to produce. If you look at the $695.00 price of the larger sizes (sizes 14 and 15) you can figure a factory price of $130.00.
Does the Big Baller Brand ZO2 Prime really cost $90 to produce in the factory? Maybe not.
Let’s look at a very comparable shoe, the Nike Kobe 11. The Nike Kobe 11 retails for $159.00. If we follow the same logic working the price backward, we calculate a factory price of around $30.00 USD. Nike has an army of footwear technicians and costing engineers, so I have no doubt they can build and buy a comparable shoe at a cost lower than any upstart brand.
Now, considering the ZO2 Prime is being sold directly from the Big Baller Brand’s website, this upstart brand is most likely guilty of the price gouging that Nike is often accused of. If the ZO2 Prime really does cost $90.00 to produce, and another $25.00 to ship into the USA, then Big Baller brand is making over $350.00 per pair.
The Design of Big Baller ZO2 Prime VS Kobe
Let’s look at the design of these two shoes. Is there really is a justification for the price difference? The material specification for the Z02 Prime is listed as microfiber with Python emboss. This type of PU synthetic material ranges in price from $8.00 USD to $15.00 USD per yard. The amount required to make a low cut shoe will cost between $2.00 to $4.00 USD. This PU material is not particularly exotic. The Nike shoes’ 4D flyknit upper with TPU welds will cost about the same if not a little more. Both shoes have welded eye stays, but the Nike has more welding on the upper.
Both shoes have textile linings. There is nothing special in either case. Looking at the crease in the foam at the heel, I do think the Z02 Prime may be a little over-stuffed. This is a shortcoming I would not expect to see in a $495 shoe, or even a $150 or $100 shoe.
The rubber outsole designs are VERY similar. Single color crystal rubber with no logo embellishments. Thus, neither is exotic or expensive to make.
I will be a bit critical of the midsole design of the Big Baller Z02 Prime. The texture pattern is designed to resemble the Adidas™ Boost foam. The real material is made by BASF™. The distinctive BASF material bubble pattern is inherent to how the foam beads are expanded into the mold. The Z02 Prime fakes this look, but you can see clean, straight lines, on the upper edge of the midsole. If this were the actual BASF™ Boost foam material the bubble texture would extend over the entire midsole.
Is Lonzo Ball’s Big Baller ZO2 Prime really a $495.00 Shoe?
If you are buying the hype and are a super fan of Lonzo Ball….then maybe. Looking at the build price of the shoe, I would say, “No way.” The shoe looks to have the same, if not a lower, build price as the Nike Kobe 11. I would also say that Big Ball Brand is way out of their league if they think they can go head to head with Nike’s marketing and shoe making machine. Furthermore, while the two shoe designs may look similar, there is no doubt that the quality and fit of the Nike shoe will be superior.
I do appreciate the idea of new brands launching into a very competitive market. Unfortunately, the exorbitant price tag for what looks like a very conventional shoe may have people asking, “What is the hype really worth?”
Come November, when the Z02 Prime hits retail, we are going to find out.
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