Before establishing commitment towards an action or task, we like to picture ourselves, leaning over towards or squatting down to tie up our shoelaces in an attempt to motivate or maintain our self-interest and create a sense of ease. Like one’s toothbrush or glasses, we think of shoes as a staple accessory. We wear it because it provides a multitude of benefits. We wear a particular variety to meet our preferences ranging from comfort, price, brand, size, etc. An argument presented is that shoes are an Omni-lastic product found in any market, virtually any part of the world. Understanding that the price is reliant on specific environmental conditions, it is remarkable to think that a singular machine credited to a gentleman born in Dutch Guyana in 1852 can be a participant in shaping such a fascinating industry. While the Lasting Machine has undergone adaptations and automation, its principles are still in practice in shoemaking. If one assumes rest at this particular juncture, it can be inferred that while the concept of a shoe has not changed, its perception has wholly transformed and incorporated in our daily lives. The current segmentation of the shoe industry is an outstanding diaspora of participants with innovative messages and styles.  

Omni-lastic products hold a varied degree of demand based on the market conditions supported in the environment. Omni-lastic products are products that reflect the principles of both elastic and inelastic properties of demand. An elastic product is a product whose change in price would profoundly impact the demand for the products. In contrast, an inelastic product is a product whose price change would not profoundly affect the products’ demand. Juxtapose a game console such as Xbox or Playstation and Cigarettes for elastic and inelastic products, respectively. If the gaming console price drops tomorrow, there would be a spike in gamers, whereas we must pay the said price regardless of cigarette price. Shoes act in duality or an Omni-lastic manner because of its price sensitivity, hinges on market demand, but not every market. Shoes can exhibit exciting properties about the attribute “price.”

For an economist, everything has a price. While the relevancy and validity of the price are established and maintained by market participants, the quantity is tactile and tangible. Many shoe ecosystems exist, such as shoes specific for weather conditions, sporting events, business settings, etc. Before examining price, an inspection of production must occur since it allows us to impose our tactile and tangible measure of a price for shoes. For centuries, shoemaking was an artisanal affair reserved for society’s specific segments—upper class and aristocracy. An immigrant, Jan Ernst Matzeliger, a native of Dutch-Suriname, residing in Lynn, Massachusetts, mechanized shoe production aspects with The Lasting Machine. The element, in particular, forming the actual shape of the shoe itself. To build a shoe, material such as leather in historical cases and advanced forms of silicone in modern times is stretched around a “last” or a mechanical structure shaped like a foot and then attached to the shoe’s sole. In the late 19th century, the invention of The Lasting Machine by Mr. Matzeliger was vital as it allowed for the production of “150 to 700 pairs a day, which would be fourteen times as many as an artisanal shoemaker of the time” [1]. Mr. Matzeliger’s Lasting Machine provided for greater efficiency in the shoemaking factories to achieve economies of scale. “Factory production jumped from 50 pairs a day to 750 pairs a day. The cost of a pair of shoes made in Lynn dropped in half. Within a few years, Lynn is the undisputed shoe capital of the world. 234 factories are churning out more than a million pairs of shoes each day” [2].

A variation of the Lasting Machine is still in use to produce shoes and footwear. Athletic Shoes, Leather Shoes, Cowboy Boots, Orthotic Shoes, use variations of the lasting machine to accomplish the final product. Mr. Matzeliger’s legacy with the Lasting Machine will be a tool shoemakers will rely on for generations to come since it is the singularity of shoe construction. A dramatic shift from The Lasting Machine in terms of production would radically change the shoe industry.

If the technique of production is not unique, then what is – the purpose and the brand. Shoes have become an incredibly specialized product over time. A professional firefighter will use a completely different set of parameters when evaluating which pair of shoes to get for work than a professional Olympic sprinter or a business executive. This construction of correlations is needed since it would be futile to think that a pair of boots would serve a similar purpose as shoes with spikes in a 100-yard dash. The brand Timberland’s iconic yellow boot was introduced by Sidney Swartz in 1973 to meet the needs of wet and snowbound winters of hard-working residents of New Hampshire [3]. Mr. Swartz’s boots allowed workers to keep their feet dry, but his “Timbs” became more than a professional revolution. It supported a cultural revolution when multiple pop cultural icons started wearing them for style. To quote a fashion editor at British style magazine i-D, “The boot is so popular because it doesn’t conform to one certain genre, it can be put with anything and help create a look” [4]. Looks are paramount at a time when there is a camera within arms reach of every individual. Granted attributes such as marketing, relevance, and spokesperson representing the shoe serve a significant significance in its business sustainability; the $350 billion industry [5] is based on a simple means of production and two core tenets, brand, and purpose.

The website, StockX.com, is a fantastic maturation of the shoe industry. For decades, sneaker culture existed among participants’ admiring aspects of a limited-release sneaker and resale of the said sneaker based on a price, tangent to environmental conditions. Some of the prices spread on these sneakers are insane since they are, fundamentally, shoes. Upon conducting a simple search, while setting the filter to Price: Highest Bid, the results are shoes worth more than the median annual earnings of $18,000 for close to 53 million Americans [6]. The brand is attached to the shoe that fundamentally shifts the price. Besides, for these participants, the purpose of those shoes has morphed as well. No longer do they serve the purpose of footwear but as a source of investments. There is no regulatory environment for the resale market of shoes, making this a market purely fueled by self-interest and competition. The argument that shoes are Omni-lastic, which is elastic and inelastic, is based on the purpose-built and brand built model of shoes.