From original Air Jordans to diamond encrusted Nike Dunk Lows, the sneaker world is filled with shoes whose price tags would make even the most well-off have second thoughts. And unfortunately the trickle down effect is that many people mistakenly correlate price with quality. But for the vast majority of people in lower-income environments, where sneakers are an important symbol, having or getting their hands on a pair of sneakers can sometimes lead to bullying, robbery and violence.
Former NBA player Stephon Marbury looked to change that when he founded Starbury Inc. with the intention of releasing highly affordable shoes without sacrificing quality. The brand launched its first line of shoes in September 2006, which included “The Starbury One,” a basketball shoe that Marbury wore on-court, “Starbury Crossovers,” which mimicked the Air Force One, the “Starbury Cyclones,” which were similar to New Balance, and “Starbury SXM,” also a basketball shoe. FN once praised the shoe as having the 2006 Launch of the Year.
The price for the Starbury One retailed for $14.98. There are shoes currently available on Starbury.com on sale for as low as $9.98.
For Marbury, making affordable shoes was personal. He grew up in poverty in Brooklyn, NY, and has spoken about how his mother was not able to afford to buy him the latest Air Jordans, which at the time retailed for around $65. Eventually a professor at his alma mater, Georgia Tech, would inspire him to offer inexpensive shoes. He then brought the idea to the retailer Steve & Barry’s, who helped Marbury manufacture the shoes.
Sales initially did better than expected. Multiple players from Steve Francis to Louis Da Silva endorsed and wore the shoes. Starbury went on to release the Starbury II and Starbury III.
Unfortunately Steve & Barry’s filed for bankruptcy, and the Starbury line was discontinued in 2009. However in September 2015, Marbury announced via Instagram that he would be restarting the line of shoes, and the next year, the Starbury officially went on sale at US retailers again.
Starburys aren’t the only low-cost shoe on the market by an NBA star. Shaquille O’Neal also released his own sneaker line at Walmart. Shaq’s footwear has also been highly successful, selling “over 120 million pairs of affordable shoes for kids,” he has claimed.