KYW Mailbox — 📥 What's next for .Swoosh, Nike's Ja Morant dance and more
Now that everyone has their OF1 collectible, what happens next?
Goooood morning, family. Welcome back to the Kicks You Wear. It’s mailbag day, folks! This is my favorite — I see it as a moment where you all can really talk back to the newsletter and I really enjoy it. Thanks for being so enthusiastic about participating.
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With that out the way, let’s dig in.
Mike, What’s up? I bought two (dot)Swoosh NFTs yesterday. What in the world do I do with them?
The reader continues: Not sure if I can even trade or sell them. This is wild.
Best, Michael Butler
First of all, MB, what up! Thanks for chatting. Really appreciate you. And I’d also love to hear more about your experience in purchasing the pieces you did.
As far as what’s next…it’s sort of unclear at this point? That’s my frustration with .Swoosh in a nutshell.
Zooming out, here’s what Nike told folks when .Swoosh was first announced back in November.
To ensure it is a safe, trusted space, .SWOOSH has its own domain: welcome.swoosh.nike. There, Nike Members will be able to learn about and collect virtual creations, which are typically interactive digital objects, such as virtual shoes or jerseys, that community members will soon be able to wear in digital games and immersive experiences. In some instances, community members will be able to unlock access to physical product or events like intimate conversations with athletes or designers.
That last line is the closest we get to some direction here. Members will be able to “unlock access to physical product or events” via purchases they’ve made in the .Swoosh marketplace.
The big picture: That’s a promise of utility. Basically, Nike wants you to think of this digital collectible as a token or a key that will eventually unlock something at some point. The brand is just asking us to trust that whatever is waiting at the end will be worth it.
I wrestled over that when thinking about purchasing part of a collectible myself and I just couldn’t do it.
Here’s why: Utility is essential. It’s essential with any purchase you make. When you buy a pair of sneakers, for example, you want to be able to wear them. That’s the utility. There’s a use or a reward at the end of it all.
That doesn’t exist yet with .Swoosh and the OF1 collection. We’re being told that it’s coming and that it could be worth it. We know what it might be, but not what it is. There’s basically just a promise that it’ll be good. And, for me, that just wasn’t enough for me to buy in.
To be clear: This isn’t me saying that spending the money isn’t worth it or that there’s nothing useful waiting at the end here. Let me be clear — there’s probably something worthwhile waiting.
But if it’s not a physical product, I just don't know how into it I’d be. I think a lot of people would reasonably say no to that.
But here’s the thing: This is still Nike we’re talking about. And plenty of people already bought in. The brand didn’t really need to sell most of them on it, either.
If you were buying into .Swoosh at any point, chances are you were probably always going to do it regardless of what was waiting on the back end.
Nike was betting on that and that bet paid off fairly nicely to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars even with lackluster demand and a sketchy start.
Nike knows people will show up just off the goodwill the brand has already built with its consumer base. That isn’t changing in the physical or digital world.
However: Nike still has to prove itself here. In order to make this last, the brand has to give you something. It cannot scam you.
So that something is coming. Maybe that’s a physical sneaker. Maybe that’s a conversation with Tinker Hatfield. Maybe it’s just a t-shirt. We have no idea. But for those of you who purchased, you’ll certainly find out eventually. And I can’t wait to hear all about it.
What do you make of Nike pulling Ja's shoes?
The reader continues: I'm mostly just bummed about it, honestly. He was so fun but I get why the swoosh doesn't want to be selling that dude’s brand to kids right now…But I'm interested in what it means for Nike more so than Ja. They don't have that many dudes in the pipeline and this shoe they dropped just had major setbacks.
So let’s pull back a little bit on this, shall we? The narrative over the last week is that it seems that Morant has lost his Nike deal because of his Instagram Live. But I don’t actually think that’s true.
We know Nike pulled Morant’s sneaker off the Nike app, which definitely doesn’t bode well for him.
But Nike hasn’t come out (as of yet) and said anything about Morant’s latest transgression for us to go off of.
And the “Hunger” colorway still released on Nike’s SNKRS app and sold out in just a few minutes.
I just don’t know that there’s enough there to say Nike is done with Morant — especially considering the second point made in this question.
The reality: Nike basketball is counting on Ja Morant quite a bit here. Not only is he the brand’s first Gen Z signature athlete, but he’s also Nike’s only signature athlete under 25 years old. Everyone else is a bit long in the tooth. I mean, LeBron James is talking about retiring.
Morant is supposed to fill a generational gap here for Nike. And, to this point, it’s not quite working out the way anyone thought it would.
But…Nike basketball is still Nike basketball. If they can’t work with Ja, they’ll find someone else to work with. And I can think of a 7’5 dude who is ready and waiting.
Still, Nike would much rather keep Morant on its roster. And I think they will. They’ve stuck through with other athletes for much worse.
Nike stood by Kobe Bryant through his sexual assault trial in the early 2000s.
The brand also stood by Tiger Woods following his cheating scandal.
Obviously, Morant is neither of those two. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison in terms of the scandals in question. But the point is that Nike isn’t necessarily going to turn and run away at the first sign of any trouble, for better or for worse.
I think that works in Morant’s favor here.
I’m kind of bummed about this Yeezy thing
The reader continues: Adidas paying Kanye a royalty doesn’t feel great, man. It’s a company profiting off of someone who has done a pretty terrible thing.
Look, I totally get it. The news of Adidas selling Yeezy once again after everything that went down just isn’t a great look. There’s not really any way around that.
It feels gross: Even with Adidas giving what it claims to be a “significant portion” of the proceeds from Yeezy sales to charitable organizations, it still doesn’t feel great.
We still don’t know exactly how much will be going to these organizations nor do we have a complete list of the folks Adidas is working with here.
In the meantime, West will be racking up that 15% royalty. Presumably to support his new shoulder pad infatuation. Yikes.
The truth about it: This wasn’t about Adidas reuniting with Kanye West and relaunching Yeezy. It’s Adidas avoiding a massive operating loss of over $700 million. The brand was willing to do that no matter what.
The flip side: I’ve been rationalizing this move in my brain for the last couple of weeks. Here’s where I’m at.
Yes, it sucks that Kanye is profiting. But had Adidas been faced with profit margins that deep in the red, results would’ve been catastrophic.
Layoffs would’ve come. There would’ve been lots of them. And the folks who had absolutely nothing to do with West and his actions would’ve paid the price for it.
So, yes, while it does suck that Kanye is getting paid for this, it also probably saved some jobs on the back end. To me, that’s a small silver lining in all of this.
The 2022-2023 NBA season has shown us some amazing signature shoes again…
The reader continues: What's been your favourite basketball sneaker of the last year?
Basketball sneakers are definitely on the rise.
Today, even while the footwear sector at large continues to trend downward, performance basketball footwear has become a bright spot in terms of sales, per Footwear News.
That’s not what you asked, though. So let me stop delaying and get into it. This is mostly based off aesthetics — I’m not super technical and also don’t play ball often enough to rate the long-lasting wear on any of these models. But here’s my top 3.
My favorite signature shoes:
The LeBron XX: I think this has probably been the best signature model as far as aesthetics go. I love a low-cut sneaker and the swoosh just reminds me of Ambush.
The Curry 4 FloTro: Specifically that Lilac purple colorway. That shoe is BEAUTIFUL. The Curry 4 is one of Steph Curry’s better sneakers and it performs extremely well. That Flow cushioning is top-notch.
The Harden Vol. 7: I know Jerry Lorenzo said he hasn’t touched Adidas’ basketball line at this point, but the Harden Vol. 7 is exactly why I don’t know if I believe that. That shoe has Fear of God written all over it. It looks amazing and the colors are great. I love these joints. It’s James Harden’s best shoe in a while.
What do we think of that top 3? Feel free to drop yours in the comment section.
New Balance VA is for Lovers collaboration. I know you were hyped for it.
The reader continues: Are you as disappointed as I was? Wanted more from it
For those of you who are wondering what the sneaker in question is, it’s this DTLR x New Balance collaboration designed by creative director June Saunders.
5/26 Release #exclusive @dtlrofficial @newbalance #nbloversonly #twouptwodown 🎞️ @215shooter”
My take: I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed in them — I actually like them. Maybe not as much as other DTLR models, but the standard is high there. Especially coming off the Gr3yscale 990v3.
This is a 2002r, though. It’s a more common NB silhouette so it definitely doesn’t feel as special to me.
That $160 price point is a bit of a turn-off for me, too.
I’ll see these in a couple weeks or so — Evan, the producer extraordinaire for Special Delivery — got his hands on a pair. I’ll have a better take then.
Y’ALL KNOW THE VIBES. LET’S GET IT POPPIN’
First, the homie Dandin kicked us off with the Pine Green foams. Nobody is touching my boy with the Foamposites, man.
Then we had the homie Lyndsay come through with a mail call on the Pine Green 3s. These are STUNNING.
The homie Sam came through with the Wavy Babies and, apparently, they’re comfortable?!?!?
Then the GOAT tweeter, Jasmine, came through with the UNDFTD Air Forces just stunting. Her closet is top notch, y’all.
Then the homie Jon popped out in the Wotherspoon 97/1s and, man, Nike, please bring these back someday.
Then the homie D Miller sent us home with the DOOM DUNKS. THE DOOM DUNKS Y’ALL. THIS IS ONE OF THEM ONES.
SMOKED THAT. Good stuff, y’all. As always.
Thank you so much for rocking with me today. I appreciate you. Y’all are the absolute best. We’ll chat again soon.
Until next time — peace and love. Be easy, be safe, be kind. And we out.