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Minimal Shoes for Minimal Money?

This may be a bit of a rant, but I'm curious what others are thinking here.

I for one am kind of sick of seeing minimal/lightweight shoes that cost as much or more than their heavier/more traditional counterparts.  I'm sorry that I just don't care what technology Newtons have--I am NOT paying $150 for a pair of shoes! 

The price for the "middle of the line" stability shoe (Asics GT-2xxx series, Nike Air Structure Triax, Brooks Adrenaline) has gone up over time; when I was in high school over a decade ago, it was $90, and the price rose to $95-100 by the time I graduated college. Now if you look, it's up to about $110.  For some reason, my mind says minimal shoes should cost less than that, but they don't.

Am I the only person frustrated and perplexed by that?
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  • edited January 2013
    Not perplexed but frustrated, too. Given my history with durability issues I'm even more frustrated. My strategy is to be extremely picky with my shoes. It has to fit 100%. And I will refuse to buy shoes priced beyond a certain threshold.

    Actually, I assume you reside in the across the pond, running shoes are usually 20 - 30% more expensive over here in Europe. Even more frustrating.
  • edited January 2013
    Even if this were a rant, it'd be a legitimate one imo.
    A price rise of about 22% (90-110) over more than a decade is rather normal, I think, considering CPI.
    My simple reasoning agrees that minimal shoes would mean less technology and less materials, so why isn't this reflected in a smaller price tag?

    I can't help to follow up with a rant of my own:
    What bothers me most is the tag inside every running shoe I own says 'Made in China'. Undercover journalism has uncovered enough about the truth behind our (cheap) clothes and shoes: a crime against human and environmental health.
    So paying an average of €120 ($160) for a shoe in a specialty running store (Newton Gravitys cost up to $200 here), I would love to know how much brand X paid for its production. I remembered being really disappointed by companys like Merrell or Vivobarefoot, who market themselves als healthy, natural, environmental,... If the production cost of a pair of Road Gloves is €75, then I'm prepared to pay €100. If it's €25, then we, and the people actually making them, are being ripped of.
  • edited January 2013
    For the record, my other interest is cars (specifically the Mazda Miata--I have owned 3 in my lifetime).  I long ago learned when buying parts that lighter = more expensive.  Why?  Because those parts are normally made of either materials or using processes that require more labor. 

    How does this apply to shoes?  Well, the truth is, it's hard to make a light shoe without using--what at least was--new technologies (Nike's Flyknit comes to mind).  Thus, if you make an exotic shoe with exotic materials and technologies, it's going to cost more.  So, from that perspective, I understand expensive but not-so-durable-because-no-light-shoe-can-be-durable shoes.

    That said, if you're making relatively light (but otherwise traditionally made) shoes, how can they be as expensive as their heavier counterparts?  If you're incorporating less technology (such as a lack of Gel or Air cushions in Asics or Nike shoes), why is the shoe still as expensive?  Additionally, at what point do those new technologies that made your early light shoes so expensive become commonplace enough that the cost to produce the shoe comes down (and thus so should the price)?
    Socks are a scam. Just saying :-)
  • I'd say raw materials contributes only little to total cost.
  • edited January 2013
    Raw materials, maybe, but consider the labor to produce full sub-assemblies of the shoe (midsole, outsole, upper).

    In general, I'm going to guess that all shoes of any type are overpriced, so let's avoid that discussion.  I'm specifically curious why some shoes that are extremely light are as or more expensive than other shoes.
    Socks are a scam. Just saying :-)

  • It's not just that new technologies are expensive, it's that the R&D that goes into them cost a lot of money. The cost of Saucony's Flexfilm, for example, can be muted through economies of scale, but the cost of the research that went into its creation adds to the cost of the shoe as well. 

    What bothers me, but which I also understand, is that companies haven't made any shoes that last longer (Brooks advises that its Pure line lasts only 250-300 miles). I'd be willing to pay more for shoes that will last me 500+ miles. But then, these companies need to keep selling us shoes, so the incentive is to make ones that don't last forever.
  • I'd be OK with a shoe that actually lasts 300 of my miles, lol

    (For some reason, shoes feel dead to me at barely past 250)
    Socks are a scam. Just saying :-)
  • edited January 2013
    I've been annoyed by this for a while. My Inov-8 trail shoes are rubber and the canvas type upper. Pretty stripped down but not necessarily lightweight. They retail at about the same as something with new cutting-edge cushioning and materials. I know from working in manufacturing that there are lots of costs tied up in tooling, materials, shipping, and whatnot. But it would seem less shoe takes less of all of these.
  • My Saucony Grid Type A5's were only about US$72 (once shipping was factored in) because Running Warehouse had a sale during the Olympics and I used the runblogger 10% off code.  They retail normally for CAN$130.  We get ripped off in Canada...everything is more expensive even though the dollar is near parity to the greenback.
  • im with you guys. kinda frustrated how minimalist shoes which is "less" priced "more". My example would be the Puredrifts. After 250 kilometers, the upper located on the small toe of my right shoe is about to tear of, and this really saddens me.. Losing faith on minimalist shoes..
  • I agree very much with this topic, I personally have a hard time justifying paying over $100 for a shoe. Granted, about half of the shoes I get are media samples (i.e., free), but I also purchase a lot myself and generally hit sales and discount sites like The Clymb and Leftlane Sports when I do.

    I was at an event that Merrell put on a few years ago and at dinner was sitting next to one of their head guys. A group of us got into a discussion about shoe prices, and his response was that the construction of a shoe lime the Merrell Road or Trail Glove was quite different from a more typical shoe and was considerably more complicated than making say one of their hiking boots. Building integrated footbeds, minimizing internal seams, maintaining durability with less material, etc. makes it harder to make the shoes, and thus increases cost. I've heard similar things from Newton to justify their costs, and their response is usually that you'll get more miles out of one of their shoes. Not saying any of these things are true, just what the explanations I have been given are.

    I personally like shoes like the Saucony A5 because they are simple and relatively inexpensive. I was at Saucony HQ yesterday and told them if they could make a shoe like the Mizuno Universe and price it under $100 they'd have a hit.

    I also look at the fact that you can buy a pair of Skechers GoRuns on Amazon for under $30 right now and scratch my head about shoe prices...

  • The irony, Peter, is that my current favorites, the Bare Access 2's, are only $90.  IMHO, if all options were like that, I would be MORE than happy!
    Socks are a scam. Just saying :-)
  • I agree with this topic.  This is the reason that I so interested in the Go Run2.  At 80.00 it is very moderately priced.  I wasn't interested in the 1st version due to the pronounced "bump" in the mid foot that everyone was talking about.  If I understand correctly, that has been "fixed".  I'm looking forward to Peter detailed review of this shoe.
  • Running Warehouse has some great liquidation deals right now.
  • ZedZed
    edited January 2013
    These days, when buying running shoes, I apply the same rule I use when buying non-critical consumer electronics: Get the best reviewed model from the previous year. Works out so much cheaper that way, and it makes buyer's remorse less likely.

    What I've found over the past two decades of running is that functional advances in footwear technology are incremental for the most part (the minimalist surge being a prominent exception, and even then, it can be argued that the minimalist movement isn't so much driven by technology as it is by more flexible thinking when it comes to running form), and there's no real advantage for a recreational/fitness runner like me to being an "early adopter" outside of looking fashion-forward and "with it."

    Another key advantage to waiting for the inevitable price drops is that by the time I buy a new pair of shoes, there's so much feedback out there from bloggers and reviewers that I have a much firmer idea of how well a particular shoe will work for me.
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