My faithful pair of basketball shoes was wearing a little thin so I reluctantly decided it was time to replace them. Being concerned about what outsourcing has been doing to the US economy I resolved that I would replace my old Reeboks (which were made in Korea) with a pair of real and 100% genuine "Made in USA" basketball shoes. During the process I wanted to stay out of the clutches of the scammers and spammers who were selling fake replica shoes.
First I went online and looked at the dazzling array of beautiful new court shoes available, but there was no indication of where these might have been made so off I went to Google. There I soon found out that all of big brand shoes such as Big N ( you know who I mean the king of shoes which made over a billion dollars profit last year) were made overseas, that the labor practices in their overseas plants appeared to be less than desirable, and that the foreign operations of a number of U.S. shoe companies left a lot to be desired.
From there I decided to try the Mall and started looking at the labels of all the brand name basketball shoes - "Made in VietNam", "Made in Korea", Made in China", "Made in Thailand", "Made in Indonesia" and "Made in Brazil". Not a single pair "Made in USA". This didn't seem to help much so I turned to the hovering clerk and asked if she had any Made in USA shoes. That question seemed to bewilder her, so I asked clerks in other stores and those who were not stunned by this question told me that there was no such thing as an American made basketball shoe, with the possible exception of Chuck Taylors. I was soon to find out that even manufacture of these stalwarts was moved overseas when Nike bought out Converse in 2003.
I went back home perplexed and a bit disappointed but resolved to go straight to the horse's mouth, so I started calling the corporate headquarters of some of the major US shoe manufacturers to get the real story.
Nike told me that they were still manufacturing in Indonesia "and lots of other countries in that region", and that "it was not economically feasible to manufacture in the United States". This is the same company that made a profit of over 0 million in the third quarter of 2007 alone?
The nice lady at L.A. Gear seemed a bit surprised when I asked if their shoes were made in USA but told me that their shoes were made in Brazil and several countries in Asia.
Being nothing if not stubborn, I kept the phone warm and called Reebok but all I was told was that "All of our shoes are made somewhere outside of the United States". When I told this lady that I was concerned with shoes being manufactured in deplorable conditions overseas she sent me a very nice brochure which assured me that their shoes were manufactured under circumstances "appropriate in light of national practices and conditions". Several calls later I found that these countries were China, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, and the Philippines.
Sigh! K-Swiss shoes would only say that they manufactured "offshore" but when I called New Balance I was told that 70% of their shoes are made in the United States, with the remaining 30% made in Europe and Asia. Sadly none of their shoes seemed to fit my needs.
Somewhat discouraged I sat down and thought about it for a bit. How much does it matter I wondered? How easily do principles give way to the need for better ankle support, brand loyalty, fashion or for better pricing? What's all this flap about foreign made replica shoes? Are all the shoes sold online fakes since they are all made overseas? How can I tell if an online shoe site is selling fake replicas or the genuine real thing? Does it really matter so long as the shoes are good? What exactly is a fake and what is real or genuine?
So I decided to join the crowd and went back online and found a nice pair of basketball shoes from a company called kicksbay.com. They probably were not made in USA but the price was right, the shoes were delivered on time, they fit well and seem to be just as good as my old Reeboks on the court. Their customer service was helpful and I will probably buy from them next time, even if I wish I could find a pair of Made in USA basketball shoes.
And now I am having a hard rethink about all the fuss the big manufactures are making over "fake or replica" shoes. Is a pair of shoes that came out of the same factory that produces Nikes or Addidas' shoes just as good as the "genuine real thing" or are the high prices we are paying only to support the billion dollar profits some of these companies are making? It is food for thought and maybe more articles.