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Retro Shoes Sell. Would Retro Cars?

March 12, 2012

Shoe and apparel companies have been profiting from the sales of retro style shoes for 18 years. The first instance known to me was the re-release of Nike’s Air Jordan III in 1994. The original Air Jordan III originally released in 1988 but this iteration was dubbed “retro,” a moniker that has remained in place on all future Air Jordan re-releases. This retro title has become part of sneaker culture and is used to reference any past shoe being re-released into the wild and can even take on the form of an adjective, as in “Nike needs to retro the Air Trainer 1 in 2012!” Shoe companies like Adidas and New Balance have also been releasing shoes from their past and these casual, lifestyle shoes are as much a part of sneaker culture as new performance-based releases.

Nike (founded in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports) and Adidas (founded in 1948) have both been around for many decades but a majority of their releases focus on the 1980s, 90s (In my opinion, sneaker’s golden age), and even the early 2000s because this is what the sneaker-heads of today want (age demo 13-24) who either couldn’t afford those shoes when they were young or weren’t even born yet. The sales strategy for retro goods works for Nike and Adidas, why wouldn’t it work for automobiles? Why can’t GM and Ford re-release models from their own “golden-age” (1954-1969 seems like a good start) with modern updates? Would the average consumer buy these vehicles based on nostalgia the same way they purchase sneakers?

In America, GM and Ford have made significant improvements to their vehicle design and production in the last five years and are finally catching back up with the foreign car companies but they completely dominated in the decades leading up to this point. They need to exploit their previous designs and make use of their legacy products they same way Nike and Adidas have. A good looking sneaker is a good looking sneaker no matter what decade it released, the same holds true for a car or truck. Car companies need to retro one of their most popular models in limited numbers and see how they sell. Even if the amount of profit they make off the car isn’t huge, the amount of publicity and brand awareness will be worth it.