In The New York Times Magazine: Ospop

Posted by Rob Walker on August 16, 2008
Posted Under: Consumed,World News

WORKER SOLE
A simple shoe for Chinese laborers gets made over for Western consumers

This week in Consumed, a new addition to the centuries-old effort to communicate between East and West. Curiously, it’s a consumer product:

Ospop sneakers. Yes, they’re made in China by Chinese workers. But more unusually, and more to the point, they are inspired by Chinese workers. Specifically, Ospop sneakers are based on a design widely worn by such laborers, but with higher-quality materials and structural improvements meant to appeal to a Western audience — one that is, not incidentally, willing to pay $75 for a pair of sneakers.

Read the column in the August 17, 2008, issue of The New York Times Magazine, or here.

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Reader Comments

The ospop web site is particularly obnoxious, beware.

#1 
Written By joe.shuren, bouvet island on August 17th, 2008 @ 2:01 am

The article states that Ospop stands for One Small Point of Pride”. That phrase is a line from the song “Jack Straw” by the Grateful Dead (lyrics by Robert Hunter):
Gotta get to Tulsa
First train we can ride
Got to settle one old score
And one small point of pride…

You can find full lyrics and commentary at The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics site, http://arts.ucsc.edu/gdead/agdl/jstraw.html

Maybe the use of this distinctive phrase by the shoe company is just a coincidence, but I thought it was worth noting.

#2 
Written By Michael W. on August 18th, 2008 @ 7:38 am

In the time it took to publish this article, Ospop has since raised its pricepoint to $76. Has the cost of labor in China just gone up overnight, or did Ospop decide that it couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bilk the suckers that NYT sent its way?

#3 
Written By egn on August 18th, 2008 @ 12:58 pm

egn: I rounded off to $75, which is my general practice. Anything that sells at retail will have varying prices, so I always round.

#4 
Written By Rob Walker on August 18th, 2008 @ 1:12 pm

Those sneakers aren’t even a new design; they’ve been around for years. Next Ospop will probably start marketing those thin cloth Mary Janes with flat rubber soles that you can get for, like, $10 in Chinatowns everywhere (plus, of course, Urban Outfitters, always a hotspot for revolutionary new ideas in fashion ;) )

http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp;jsessionid=A941529A4E965681299A71564399F35B.app12-node7?itemdescription=true&itemCount=60&id=12010120&parentid=W_SHOES_ALLSHOES&sortProperties=+product.marketingPriority,-product.startDate&navCount=27&navAction=poppushpush&color=

#5 
Written By Rebecca on August 24th, 2008 @ 8:21 pm

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