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Nike Offers Design-Your-Own Sneakers

Added: (Tue Nov 23 1999)

Pressbox (Press Release) - By Chris Stetkiewicz

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Nike Inc. is giving customers a shot at being the next Michael Jordan -- not a chance to play pro basketball, but to design their own sneakers.

Starting on Monday, a new division called NIKEiD will let buyers customize two shoe models on Nike's (NYSE:NKE - news) Internet Web site (http://www.nike.com), the footwear and apparel giant said.

For $10 above the retail price, NIKEiD customers can choose the colors on either the Air Turbulence running shoe or the Air Famished cross trainer and emblazon them with a name or slogan of up to eight characters.

The customer will view the personalized shoe on the screen and watch it change with each selection.

"NIKEiD brings us back to our roots when we designed and sold shoes one by one, out of the trunk of my old Plymouth," said Nike Chairman and Chief Executive Phil Knight.

The customized sneakers will be delivered two to three weeks from the date of order and will cost $85 for the Air Turbulence and $80 for the Air Famished, plus a shipping fee.

At first, NIKEiD will be available only in the United States, with a maximum of 400 orders per day.

The company sees 400 as a modest daily goal and expects to expand its offerings to include other shoes and possibly apparel down the road.

"I think we're going to be pushing against 400 pair per day," said Mark Allen, NIKEiD general manager.

Nike's retail outlets and distributors will not sell the customized sneakers, but Knight said he believes their sales will ultimately grow as a result of Nike's online efforts.

"Some of the studies that we've had done show that a good retailer will increase sales about 30 pct based on what the Internet era is going to make available to him, which is basically fast fill-ins on products he isn't normally able to carry, such as wrestling shoes or volleyball shoes or odd-size shoes," Knight said.

He noted that Nike sells about 200 million pairs of shoes in "a good year."

Knight declined to discuss potential profit margins for NIKEiD other than to say it will not make money at first.

"Obviously, like all things Internet you start out losing money, and I'm sure we'll be able to meet that goal," Knight quipped.

Knight founded Nike in 1972, initially making running shoes with soles formed by placing rubber in a waffle iron.

The company eventually became a marketing giant and lured star athletes such as Jordan to promote its footwear.

"We have now come full circle, using our design and performance expertise combined with Internet technology to offer customized products," Knight said.

Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike now makes apparel and footwear for nearly every sport.

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