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What to know about the debut of Trump's $399 golden, high-top sneakers

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump unveils his golden high-tops on Saturday at Sneaker Con Philadelphia, an event popular among sneaker collectors.
Manuel Balce Ceneta
/
AP
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump unveils his golden high-tops on Saturday at Sneaker Con Philadelphia, an event popular among sneaker collectors.

Updated February 20, 2024 at 5:39 PM ET

At a sneaker conference in Philadelphia over the weekend, former President Donald Trump unveiled his latest pitch — and it wasn't a stump speech.

The businessman-turned-politician debuted a line of gleaming, golden sneakers called the Never Surrender High-Top Sneaker, which sell online for $399 a pair.

"This is something I've been talking about for 12 years, 13 years, and I think it's going to be a big success," Trump said to the crowd at Sneaker Con Philadelphia.

"That's the real deal," he added, holding up the flaxen footwear, which features an American flag on the back and a capital T on the side.

Trump's stop at the Philadelphia convention was met with a mix of chants from supporters and boos from critics, The Associated Press reported.

The announcement came one day after a New York judge ordered Trump and the Trump Organization to pay over $355 million as part of a civil fraud case. Prosecutors had accused Trump, his two oldest sons and other associates of inflating the value of certain properties and other assets for financial gain.

Trump is also running for the Republican nomination for president, hoping to notch reelection this year during the fall race.

"What's the most important thing?" Trump asked the sneaker conference crowd. "To go out and vote, right? We have to go out and vote."

The product launch was an unusual meeting of the worlds of politics and fashion.

Bridget Barrett, a University of Colorado Boulder professor who studies political and campaign merchandise, says she's never seen anything comparable to Trump-branded sneakers.

"Plenty of politicians turn their reputation into a money-maker, but typically not at this level of politics," Barrett said via email. "He is more akin to celebrity spokespeople and influencers."

The weekend product drop also became an opportunity for Trump's Democratic opponents to taunt the former president.

"Donald Trump showing up to hawk bootleg Off-Whites is the closest he'll get to any Air Force Ones ever again for the rest of his life," Biden-Harris 2024 Communications Director Michael Tyler said in a statement.

Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., who is also running for the Democratic nomination, tweeted a photo of a colorful platform shoe with the message: "Game on, Don."

Just 1,000 pairs of the Trump high-top sneakers were being offered for presale, according to the website where they were available, and they were sold out just days after their debut. Trump autographed at least 10 pairs.

Dee Jackson, a fashion designer who helms the label Dee and Ricky with his brother Ricky Jackson, said the kicks appeared to be more of a marketing ploy to Trump's political base rather than an appeal to the average sneaker fan.

"Sneakerheads are not going to really be into it, because it's not really a cool design" or a collaboration with a major brand like Nike or Adidas, Jackson said, noting that the shoe could become a collectible because of the hype surrounding it.

"I just feel like he's trying to get that marketing attention because he knows all the young kids are gonna talk about it," Jackson added.

The online store also features a number of other Trump products for sale, including cologne, perfume and other sneakers.

It's not the first time Trump has promoted products bearing his name.

Trump sells wine from his vineyard in Virginia, previously offered a line of steaks through the retail store Sharper Image and even peddled a Milton Bradley board game named Trump: The Game.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joe Hernandez