Apr 13

Why I Put So Much Faith in the Internet

I absolutely love consuming something that I know is more substance than fluff. There is something to be said when someone pours their time and energy into creating something rather than telling you and everyone else they know about what they’ve created. It’s called craftsmanship, which is something we as Americans have not seen for a long time.

This country came to power under the Ford model. Create something cheaply and efficiently and market it to as many people as humanly possible. This is how the Model T took off. This is how Coca Cola and Nike became big. When you buy a Nike shoe, you spend $100 for a shoe that cost them $6 to produce. How much of that is marketing? How much realistically is R&D?

I spent half a day looking for tennis shoes that were not produced under sweatshop labor. I found out that New Balance has a decent track record. I don’t like New Balance shoes. They are heavy and do not fit my feet well. So I bought a pair of Nikes for just over $100.

$6 went to craftsmanship. I’d say at least another $40 went into marketing. Some went to facilities, distribution and some went to profit.

For $100, what kind of shoe could you produce? Could I have custom insoles? Could I have the lightest shoe possible with the most cushioning? Could I be assured someone didn’t have to work 80 hours a week to produce it? Can you make it last a long time? Can you make it in my favorite colors?

I put faith in the internet because we now have a distribution model that makes getting that shoe made to order much more realistic. Why? 1.) We don’t have to rely on huge, expensive distribution channels to get the word out. More channels equal more specialization. 2.) Our potential audience is much broader. A good website sells in your sleep and doesn’t restrict by geography unless you want it to. 3.) It’s easier to connect with the influencers who would actually be doing their audience a favor by showing them a product that is good. 4.) The competitive nature of the internet punishes products that are margin rich without providing value, as other competitors can offer the same for less.

This isn’t about shoes. This is about work. I don’t want to pay for flash. I am tired of knowing that the products I consume often exploit workers and consumers in order to appease shareholders. This is why although I hate being behind a computer, I put so much value in the work that web professionals do. We are building the model for the new age…

  • http://karasoluri.wordpress.com/ Kara

    Hi Michelle! I read about the Nike story in a book called Rethinking Globalization: Teaching for Justice in and Unjust World http://rethinkingschools.org/publication/rg/index… The book is designed to help middleschoolers think about what's behind their favorite labels, and contains first-hand accounts of life in sweatshops As a busy mom, I find it exhausting, if not impossible, to keep up with where our stuff is made and under what conditions. I also get very cynical about the Internet, so thanks for reminding me that change is possible. Please keep talking about this subject and inspire others to do the same!

  • kara

    Sorry the link looks broken. here's the main site for the org that publishes Rethinking Globalization http://rethinkingschools.org

  • http://www.ferodynamics.com/ Ferodynamics

    I think clothing is one of those safe-from-the-Internet businesses. Even if I know my size with such-and-such favorite store, I still need to try it on. Every style has a slightly different cut, there are too many things that can go wrong, in my opinion, even with shirts. If a website has my measurements, they still don’t know how it will look on me, even if they had a robot cutting the shapes and marking everything correctly. Even with a full body scan, I might just not like the style. As it is now, on the same rack you find inconsistencies, because most of the work is done by hand. That’s OK because out of two pants with the same measurements, one might fit/look better than the other. Then you have things like color and comfort which absolutely don’t translate online. Same with shoes, from box to box you see a drastic difference in the quality of leather used, the shape of the toe, etc. You might love the shoe on display, open the box and change your mind.