Is The $300 Basketball Shoe Worth It?

As children, Ryan and Adam Goldston were some of the very first test dummies for LA Gear’s famous lighted shoes and later saw the very first prototypes of the Reebok pumps. Their father Mark was the president of LA Gear and the chief marketing officer of Reebok during those two big revolutionary shoe concepts.

Now, the 23-year-old twin brothers — who were walk-ons at USC — are trying to forge their own legacy in the shoe business. And they’ve certainly gotten our attention.

Athletic Propulsion Shoe
Source: Athletic Propulsion Labs
Athletic Propulsion Shoe

Their company is called Athletic Propulsion Labs and their basketball shoe is called the Concept 1, a name that draws its inspiration from the futuristic cars at auto shows that never hit the market.

The price?

A whopping $300 a pair.

The draw?

They don’t “guarantee” that you’ll jump higher, but say they have their proprietary “Load ‘N Launch” technology and the science to back it up. In a test the company performed, some players saw an instant increase of more than three inches on their vertical jump. The company’s motto? “Stop Dreaming…Jump Higher.”

“This isn’t one of these 18 week programs that trains you to jump,” Ryan said.“Our shoes instantly make you jump higher. The pressure you put on the shoe before you jump helps propel you upward like a diving board.”

To cut down on marketing costs, the shoes are being sold on the company’s Web site. In the three months they’ve been on sale, the twins say it has definitely been a success and new colorways are on the way.

"Our shoes instantly make you jump higher." -Athletic Propulsion Labs, Ryan Goldston

How many people have returned their pair after failing to see what they were promised?

“We had one person send their shoes back,” Adam said.

As for the price, the Goldstons say it’s warranted even in this economy because the shoe does what they say it does and, even though it’s made in China, its parts are much more expensive to produce.

One retailer did decide to take a chance on the Concept 1’s: Modell’s. The company took a small allotment to sell in its Times Square store.

Athletic Propulsion Labs
Source: Athletic Propulsion Labs
Athletic Propulsion Labs

“It is a tough, tough market, but if the shoes really do increase your vertical and they really do increase your chances that you can dunk, and the word gets out about it, the shoes will sell no matter what the price,” said Jed Berger, Modell’s senior vice president of marketing. “To many, three hundred dollars is worth the cost and risk of fulfilling the dream of dunking.”

Knowing I couldn’t write this story without testing out the shoes, I had the Goldstons send me a pair. On Monday, I took my basketball hoop down to eight feet and dunked wearing my Nike basketball shoes. Then I tried on the Concept 1’s. I didn’t measure it, and it could have been psychological, but I did feel like I had better “ups.”

So far, the buzz about the shoes has been confined mostly to the sneaker circles, but one thing can change that all: If the NBA decides to ban the shoes.

The brothers had an exploratory meeting with the league and are hoping to outfit an NBA player in the Concept 1’s this season. But if the NBA determines that the player has an unfair advantage, perhaps that’s just the news this startup needs.

As for whether possible success would breed copycats, the Goldstons say their pending patent is quite complicated with more than 200 pages long and over 150 drawings of how the technology works.

And watch out, the Goldstons say they’re in the process of making a running shoe that will help you run faster!

Questions? Comments?