New York Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury is in the midst of a 37-city tour to promote his Starbury line of shoes and clothing for Steve and Barry's. The sneakers cost just $14.95 a pair and are designed as an alternative to far higher priced kicks endorsed by celebrity athletes and made by Nike, Reebok, Adidas and other companies. (The concept is similar to recent fashion lines launched by actress Sarah Jessica Parker and renowned designer Isaac Mizrahi, who offer cheap-chic clothing for about $20.)
Marbury has said his venture is driven by memories of growing up in Brooklyn and not being able to afford the latest shoes. He says his motivation was also rooted in discussions he had with Knicks coach Isaiah Thomas about the civil rights movement and Marbury's eventual legacy.
Hoping that his discount sneaker idea will become popular, Marbury has gone as far to prove his point as playing in his own sneakers in all his NBA games last season. The idea of $15 quality shoes has been an idea of Marbury's for a long time according to the New York Knicks point guard. In fact he was the first one to approach Steve & Barry's with the idea. The company had previously been popular for university and college retailing. The shoes are manufactured in China but there is a third party involved to prevent sweatshop conditions.
Making huge profits off sweatshop labor has never been a concern for most of basketball's stars, especially its largest global icon, the now-retired Michael Jordan, who has rebuffed repeated efforts by activists to take a stand against unfair working conditions among the workers producing his branded products.
Most basketball players steer clear of criticizing Jordan but Marbury is clearly trailblazing a unique path and he blasted the mega-superstar in a blog he's keeping while on his current promotional tour:
"After that we bounced through Charlotte. We stopped off at one of my favorite places to eat, Cracker Barrel. We met a nice lady named Lisa who worked there and told us the story of how she had promised her son she would buy him a pair of $175 Jordans even though she didn't want to. But he never had any brand name shoes. So she did it. She wrote Michael Jordan a letter saying it was unfair that a lot of children wouldn't be able to afford them and they shouldn't need Jordans to feel accepted.
She said they sent her a b.s. email back but that was it. I want Michael Jordan to get down with the movement and come out with a Star Jordan sneaker for the people. Let's see what happens."
Don't hold your breath there but click here if you want to buy a pair of Starbury's.
And check this video of Marbury introducing the shoe to his intended market.