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April 7, 2021

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Ruckus over pricey sneakers

SHANGHAI-BASED online community and sports apparel shopping site Dewu banned three user accounts and removed overpriced footwear after the state news agency Xinhua criticized the hoarding and price gouging of popular sneakers made by domestic sports brands. 

Dewu yesterday cited the “extremely volatile” price of 23 sneakers, including some made by Li-Ning, 361 Degrees, Peak Sports and Anta, and will step up scrutiny of price irregularities.

Dewu app is an affiliate of Shanghai-based sports community Hupu and attracts fervent sports fans and sneaker lovers. It also enables merchants and individuals to sell or exchange their sneaker collections.

Several Anta and Li-Ning sneakers were priced 10 times more than their original price, including Li-Ning’s “Way of Wade” — the signature sneaker of former NBA player Dwyane Wade — which was priced at 48,889 yuan (US$7,460) on Dewu, but was priced 1,499 yuan when it was launched.

There was no transaction record of the “Way of Wade” sneaker as of Sunday, according to previous media reports, and other popular Li-Ning shoes were sold to dozens of shoppers at a markup of more than six times. 

The price of an Anta sneaker tie-in with the Japanese cartoon series Doraemon went up to 4,599 yuan on Dewu from its original price of 499 yuan.

A Xinhua commentary on Monday criticized the price gouging of home-made apparel and shoe collections, saying it could hurt true sports lovers and risk losing the trust of shoppers. “Online platforms are helping play up the scarcity of limited sneakers, and they should stick to their basic roles and build up a trustworthy transaction site,” it said. 

People’s Daily also said in a commentary over the weekend that such price irregularities deviate from basic market rules, and called for market watchdogs to step up regulations against such activities.

The recent hoarding of signature or limited edition sneakers from Chinese sports brands Anta and Li-Ning comes in the wake of Chinese people’s increasing anger against overseas apparel brands over Xinjiang cotton.

The overseas brands like H&M, Nike and adidas are part of the Better Cotton Initiative, which last year announced that it would not support purchasing cotton from northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region due to allegations of forced labor.

It led to consumers looking at home-grown brands.


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