Posted: Monday October 16, 2006 11:42AM; Updated: Monday October 16, 2006 3:09PM
Deion Sanders once told me that as a kid he'd get $100 each fall to do his back-to-school shopping. "But that was back when you could get something for $100," Prime Time said, noting that he was able to squeeze about seven outfits out of that c-note. He added, "Now you can't get underwear for $100."
When he was growing up in Coney Island, Stephon said, he'd beg his mother for a pair of high-priced shoes, and occasionally she'd find the cash to let him go get those new kicks. Those memories -- probably the lack of having as much as the having -- played a part in his decision to approach Steve and Barry's to launch this line.
The Starbury shoes aren't perfect, but for $14, what do you expect? And while they have made noise in the sneaker industry, I'm pretty sure there are plenty of people (myself included) who will continue to willingly pay over $100 for the cool new shoes whenever they drop. To many people these days, sneakers are like higher-priced baseball cards -- something to be collected and stored away, never to be removed from the box.
But to some people, shoes are purely functional, and those people seem to have found their source: The Starbury shoes came out the first week of August and, within hours, sold out of Steve and Barry's stores everywhere. The Manhattan store still has people lining up every morning to stock up on Starbury stuff. And last Thursday evening when I dropped by, the store was sold out of every shoe except sizes 9 through 11.
"It's not basketball with me with this -- basketball is just something that I do," Stephon told me. "What I'm doing is I'm trying to create something that could be substantial throughout the years of just living. This is just a product of something that I do. For everyone that's out in the world that will get in line to buy this stuff, they can feel good about themselves when they're wearing stuff that's so-called quote-unquote cheap that's not cool. Now it's going to be cool to wear something cheap because you can really get something out of it."
Stephon has gotten something out of this all right: a ton of great publicity, with stories everywhere from NPR to Good Morning America, and columns by everyone from Bill Rhoden to Richard Roeper. Last year I wrote about a column about Stephon, arguing that I find him awfully hard to root against. With the release of his Starbury line, my argument just got even stronger.
I'm sure there are still people out there who find Marbury displeasing, who look at his tattoos and the snarl he plays with and write him off as someone only concerned with self. But I hope the people who still find Stephon repellent will go out and try to walk in his shoes.