This blog post, earlier, caught my attention. Especially with the photo in the ad. I talk a lot about both intellectual property on here and independent and decentralized production. And therefore, I actually think this kind of thing is pretty cool.

First of all, there’s the moral argument. Those of us against software patents and copyrights regularly argue that copying video games, music or movies is no different than reproducing a car you already own. Unfortunately, that too, is illegal.

But what does this mean in the modern era, where companies like Adidas or Nike are simply advertising companies who let these same kinds of sketchy Chinese sweatshops do all the work? Often the very same product/model will have several sets of specifications, since it’s made in several different factories with different parts – up to and including iPods.

For an average set of $100 athletic shoes bought in North America, the actual production price is one of the smallest parts of the price around 10%. It amounts to about forty cents in wages, eight bucks in materials, and another $1.60 in “other production costs”. Compared to that $10 for the shoe, you’re spending around $15 on profit margins, $20 on market reserach and advertising, and handing over about $50 to the retail outlet.

This is not efficient. Oh, I’m sure it’s really efficient for certain people, like shoe company executives. But paying ten times the actual price of the shoes makes it pretty doubtful that I’m seeing a single cent of that. Cutting corners on wages, material and quality has just allowed a blossoming of other costs which have little or nothing to do with shoes, such as sponsoring athletes or setting up shopping mall parking lots.

Sure, this is spreading wealth around, but it’s also driving the cost of basic goods through the roof. And given the tiny percentage that wages represent (just under one half of one percent), it’s not making it back to workers..

So what’s the alternative? I would tell ya to just take apart your new shoes, copy out the pattern and make your own. But it seems like that’s already being done. And in all honesty, the last thing you should be ripping apart to try to copy is Nike Sneakers – try a nice, simple, leather pair of combat boots or Docs…the design is much easier and more durable (and you’ll have a lot less trouble finding a sole). And as far as Adidas’ ad goes, about how counterfeit shoes “aren’t good” for you feet. That’s totally true. Neither are “authentic” ones. Human feet didn’t evolve to wear sneakers, and barefoot running is totally the hottest new thing.

Home sewing is killing cobbling

Oh, and as far as running shoes, check these out. Socks dipped in hot-glue. Cutting edge running shoe technology for about $2. Gotta love instructables.