Is it ethical for resellers to raise the price of Kobe Bryant merchandise?
Prices on Kobe Bryant sneakers and jerseys soared two to three times within 24 hours following news of the sudden death of the Los Angeles Lakers legend, Kobe Bryant. That’s led to a debate in the sneaker community on whether it’s appropriate to profit from the tragedy.
Nike sold out of Kobe Bryant merchandise within two days following the helicopter crash that took his life. But the sports apparel giant is considering postponing a planned February 7 launch of a new color of one of Mr. Bryant’s past models to prevent resellers from profiting exorbitantly. Mr. Bryant is behind only Michael Jordan and LeBron James in player sneaker sales for Nike.
Some resellers were either locking in existing prices or banning the sale of Mr. Bryant’s products altogether to limit profiting out of respect for the family and his legacy.
“We will not be selling any Kobes till further notice,” RIF Los Angeles announced in a statement.
In an Instagram post, Jaysse Lopez, founder of Las Vegas-based Urban Necessities, noted that he “instructed staff we are not upping the price of any Kobe products at all.”
“Not how I built my brand or how I need to make a dollar,” he added.
StockX, a leading reseller site, plans to donate all proceeds from sales of Mr. Bryant’s product this week to the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation.
Not all resale sites have stopped selling, and social media commenters have loudly called out sellers as overly opportunistic. Some, however, are wondering why the circumstances aren’t the same as they are in other instances when a famous person dies.
Andre Ljustina, owner of Project Blitz, a Los Angeles reseller, told Complex, the sneaker website, “When an artist passes, everyone goes after their works. It’s just normal in the art world. So, it shouldn’t be any different with Kobe’s shoes. When [Keith] Haring, [Jean Michael] Basquiat and [Andy] Warhol died, their prices went up. The fact people are buying is actually incredible, and I think it pays tribute to Kobe.”
- Sources: Nike sold out of Kobe Bryant-related items online – ESPN
- Nike sells out of Kobe Bryant merchandise, as resellers take steps to not profit off tragedy – ABC News
- Nike Says It Sold Out Of Kobe Bryant Products Instead Of Pulling Them From Stores, Contradicting Reports – Forbes
- Resellers Criticized for Benefiting From Kobe Bryant’s Death – Women’s Wear Daily
- Is It Wrong to Resell Kobe Bryant’s Sneakers? – Complex
- People are slamming sneakerheads who are jacking up the prices of Kobe Bryant shoes in the wake of his sudden death, and it reveals a darker side of sneaker culture – Business Insider
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is it ethical for resellers of Kobe Bryant merchandise to raise prices in light of increased demand brought about by his untimely death? How would you advise Nike and resellers of Kobe Bryant merchandise to proceed under the current circumstances?