The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 97 — Comeback SZN is here

Nike really powered through.

Good morning, folks! Happy Friday. Welcome back to the Kicks You Wear. Thank you so much for being here today.

Remember to subscribe and to tell your folks to subscribe, too! Make sure you win yourself a pair of free kicks when we finally hit 2,000!

Let’s jump right in.

Nike’s big numbers mixed with a bit of context

(Photo by rex tavanh on Unsplash)

Last week, Nike told us that they weren’t worried at all about their third quarter numbers. They said they hadn’t slowed down a bit. It turns out they were right.

Business is booming.

  • The biggest news is this: Digital sales for the company were up 82% with double digit increases coming in both North America and China — Nike’s two biggest markets.

  • Nike Direct sales were also up by 12% year to year at $3.7 billion.

  • First quarter revenue dipped in total to $10.6 billion, but that was just a 1% dip from where they were last year.

They are in fantastic shape. Nike’s shares rose by 13% to $132 per share which is an all-time high for the company. This sets the tone for Nike going through the rest of fiscal 2021.

I know what you’re thinking. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. How the heck are they doing so well in the midst of all of this? And the answer is that there are a couple of things at work here.

The first one we talked about one on Monday with Nike’s Direct to Consumer focus.

  • They were heading in this direction anyway, but the pandemic sped the process up. Consumers are living online more and more. Nike is adjusting to that and it's working.

  • From Q4 last year to Q1 this year, Nike’s online sales surged again. Last quarter, they rose by 74%. This quarter, 82% as mentioned above. That’s a third of Nike’s total revenue, per Reuters. That’s a huge jump.

Second, Nike's surge is a microcosm of the greater U.S. economy. Right now, despite our government doing the bare minimum in Coronavirus relief, the economy is booming.

Axios’ Felix Salmon has more in Axios Capital.

On an annualized basis, the U.S. economy is going to grow about 25% this quarter, according to the Wall Street consensus. The previous record growth rate was 16.7% in the first quarter of 1950.

The wheels of the economy are churning. Worker productivity is returning. Technology has made it easier for people to go back to or continue working through the pandemic, one way or another. In turn, things have not only stabilized, but there’s also massive growth happening as a result.

Don’t get it twisted, though. This is still a dumpster fire. There are 30 million Americans who are on the unemployment roll, the coronavirus death toll is at 200k and counting, people have no savings and online learning actually sucks. By the way, government help probably isn’t coming soon — if at all.

It’s great that Nike and the overall economy are, not just picking up steam, but sprinting off the block. But it’s important to keep this all in context. We’re still in the midst of a pandemic, folks. Things can reverse at any time.

So, yeah, shouts to Nike. But hopefully the rest of us can make it through, too.

The new StockX

(Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash)

This last summer for the company was a tumultuous one for StockX— even after a huge mid-year report with big numbers.

  • COVID-19 disrupted the company’s processes to the point where payouts were delayed to sellers and packages shipped to buyers were taking months to arrive.

  • The company warned consumers about the delays but only after they received numerous complaints about them.

These delays revealed numerous holes in their processes and in the ways that they help buyers and sellers get information about their transactions.

They’re trying to fill those gaps. The company sent out a letter to consumers signed by CEO Scott Cutler pushing forward new customer service initiatives to keep the ball rolling.

New authentication centers, a live chat and more customer service agents are all welcome news for StockX users. In theory, it should help keep people out of the dark on their transactions. We’ll see how it works.

In the meantime, though, they’re also sending consumers who they’ve gotten complaints with discount codes.

This is totally different from the StockX we’ve seen in the past. They’ve struggled for so long with customer service and just, simply, treating people right. Everything from the big data breach to a few years ago to this year with the authentication center blunders and random processing fee.

This new vibe is refreshing. Hopefully, it keeps up.

The H̶o̶l̶i̶d̶a̶y̶ Jordan SZN

We’ve seen a lot of OG Jordan silhouettes pulled from out of the woodwork this year. That’s going to continue this holiday season.

Jordan Brand unveiled it’s holiday lineup and there is plenty of heat to choose from. There are 12 different pairs of shoes from 7 different silhouettes coming this year.

A few interesting things here.

  • The AJ1 is obviously the most popular silhouette here, but clearly, this continues a big year for non-AJ1 silhouettes. The “What The” 5 is getting a lot of love here and the Fire Red 4 return is the clear highlight.

  • The AJ3, AJ12 and AJ13 also both get new models. And we get a Jordan 8.

We absolutely have to talk about what’s missing, though — the Jordan 11. It’s not listed here in the official images. We’ve seen leaks of the Silver Eyelets 11 all year, but don’t have official images or a date.

  • Traditionally, a different Jordan 11 retro drops around Black Friday. It all started with the Space Jam in 2000.

  • People have been going crazy over them for years. Colorways like the Gamma Blues and Concord 11s have made waves in the sneaker world.

It’s hard to believe the AJ11 would be left out here — especially on during its 25th anniversary, no less. It's arguably the biggest Jordan Brand drop each and every year. Plus, y’all might burn down the internet. No one wants that.

If I had to put money on it, I’d bet this 11 is coming. But I’m broke, so. We’ll see.

You can spend $50,000 on some Dunks rn

Whenever I have to spend $150 or more on a pair of shoes, I always hesitate. It’s the #BrokeBoi in me. I can’t help myself.

So imagine my reaction when I saw these beautiful Paris Dunks were being auctioned off by Sothebys for FIFTY. THOUSAND. DOLLARS. As the starting bid, y’all! To start!

Yeah, fam. I’ma head out. Good luck to y’all tho.



First, the homie Kayla started us off with some HEAT. These are the cleanest Ozweegos ever.

My dog Jonas came out in the Acronym Lunar Force 1 lows and they’re AMAZING.

Lots of Acronym love today. The homies Sumeet and Phil jumped out in the Prestos.

The homie Muhammad RLee popped out SHINING in the AJ1 Nova XX joints. So fun.

Greer popped out here stunting in the gold toe AJ1’s looking SHARP.

And of course, Lyndsay came through icy as ever with these suede Blazers.

The homie Jonathan popped out in the Northern Lights Lows — aka MY GRAILS y’all.

Mags went straight IG influencer mode on us with the Rayguns and smoked it.

Then, the homies Wallabees and Adrian sent us all packing with these AMAZING ass Space Hippies. Goodness.

EVERY. DAMN. WEEK. Y’all kill it!

Thanks for stopping by, family! Don’t forget to tell your friends to subscribe to the Kicks You Wear! Giveaway soon come!

See you Monday!

As always, peace and love. Be easy. Be well. Be kind.

Signing off.

Sykes 💯

KYW Thread, Vol. 7 — Rest in peace, Breonna Taylor

She deserved better.

Good evening, family. Thank you for stopping by the thread today. Obviously, it’s ben a rough one. Rest in peace to Breonna Taylor.

It’s a damn shame that her killers won’t be brought to justice. The system just continues to fail us. People are on the ground in Louisville right now protesting. If you’d like, you can donate to the Action Network’s Louisville Bail Fund.

I know it’s not much, but feel free to use this thread to vent. Or talk about something that made you happy this week. Or talk about a win you had. Whatever you feel, you can bring that here.

The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 96 — The two faces of the deal

Endorsements, endorsements, endorsements.

Good morning, folks! Happy Monday! Welcome back to the Kicks You Wear, you beautiful people, you.

We’re still on the way to 2,000! Tell your friends to tell their friends to subscribe to KYW! We’re giving away two pairs of shoes — your choice — up to $150 once we hit two stacks.

Oh! Another thing. We’re going to have some KYW merch coming real soon, y’all. Real soon. Make sure you and your folks are subscribed. Don’t miss it!

Let’s jump in.

The delicate dance of the endorsement

(Photo by Nasonov Aleksandr on Unsplash)

I spent most of this week thinking about the good and bad of the endorsement game in the sneaker industry after a couple things happened.

  • Kawhi Leonard’s Clippers were eliminated from the NBA playoffs in the most embarrassing fashion possible by blowing a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets.

  • And Kanye West has been ranting for about a week straight now. But this week, he declared himself the head of Adidas…and Puma, apparently. And said Puma sucked. He eventually apologized, but yeah. Not a great look.

The sneaker industry runs on endorsements. It’s been like this since Converse attached sneaker salesman extraordinaire Chuck Taylor to the All-Star shoe in the 1920’s. He didn’t even play basketball, btw.

That’s been the formula forever and ever. Create a shoe, attach a name to it, and sell it like crazy. But it feels like now, brands are starting to rethink it. Those two scenarios with Ye and Kawhi exemplify why.

  • The honeymoon stage is over for New Balance and Leonard. Everyone hates the Clippers again. That’s not a good thing for a brand trying to reemerge in sports.

  • And Kanye is, well, Kanye. These rants are part of him (and I hope he gets some help with this). But moments like this show a house out of order.

When you have big personalities on big stages, you have to manage them. When they mess up or when they fail, it reflects on the brand just like it does when they succeed. New Balance took a big hit this week. So did Adidas.

Moments like these make the Puma route look so brilliant. Yes, they have athletes and entertainers they’ve signed. But they don’t have a Kanye or Kawhi. Everything is low maintenance

  • Their biggest star might be J Cole or Neymar, at this point. They don’t have a bunch of signature lines or brands to manage. They have their stars wear general Puma product.

  • Occasionally, we get a Fenty Creeper with Rihanna or an RS-Dreamer with J Cole, but those are rare. It’s low risk, high reward.

In 2020 when everyone has so much access to everything, that might be the best route to go. Especially in sports like basketball, for example, where the market is disappearing. Endorsees have value, but sometimes just aren’t worth the commitment.

Let me be clear. This is not me saying that Yeezy and Ye aren’t worth Adidas’ time. That would be foolish. They absolutely are. Sometimes you land on gems like Kanye West or Travis Scott or LeBron James and things work out beautifully.

But this game is a double-edged sword. You live and die as a brand by these names. There’s risk. Stephen Curry was a boon for Under Armour. He blows one 3-1 NBA Finals to James and no one wanted those shoes anymore.

Those are the breaks, yo. Finding someone with a true “halo” effect is hard. Most times you don’t. That’s why they are who they are. But if you do? A rising tide lifts all boats. It unlocks so many doors.

That’s what makes the game worth playing.

Nike’s unexpected confidence

(Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash)

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted literally every facet of every industry that you can possibly think of. Economics across the globe are shot. People don’t really have money to spend anymore.

Yet, amid all that, Nike somehow remains confident of their place ahead of their Q1 earnings call later this week. Nike Inc.’s leadership claims the brand “hasn’t slowed down a bit” amid the crisis, Footwear News’ Sheena Butler-Young reports.

CEO John Donahoe is hailing their Direct-To-Consumer transformation as the reason why during an investor call ahead of this week’s earnings report.

“In short, our strategy is working…The Consumer Direct Offense was working coming into the pandemic —[which then] stress tested the strategy and reaffirmed how correct the direction was.”

Nike announced its Direct-To-Consumer campaign back in 2017. Part of the plan was to increase innovation, build out a stronger e-commerce arm, cut out middle-man retailers and sell products directly to consumers from Nike in key major cities. They’ve begun to put that plan into motion in 2020, which was another reason for those layoffs.

It’s clear that their plan is going along as scheduled. But they’ve definitely been slowed a bit by the pandemic. When we last checked in on Nike in Q4, here’s where they were:

  • They missed their projected earnings mark by $790 million, which isn’t huge relatively speaking. But it’s not a drop in the bucket either.

  • Total revenue also dipped 38% to $6.3 billion (I know) from year to year at that time. Yes, again, that’s still a lot of money. But it’s a step back.

It’s hard to imagine a scenario where those numbers have bounced back by a large margin from that in just one quarter. We’ll see, though.

Recycling On

The subscription recycling strategy has been one of the most fascinating and interesting discussion points when it comes to sustainability in sneakers.

This is when a company creates a recyclable sneaker with a subscription service that allows consumers to ship it back and get a new version of it. Adidas did this with the Adidas Futurecraft Loop.

Now On, the Swiss running brand, is doing the same with its new Cyclon runner. Here’s how it works, per Hypebeast’s Ross Dwyer.

Although the tech used may be advanced — we’ll get into that later – the subscription model is relatively straightforward. Subscribers to Cyclon will receive shoes and apparel, which they then return to On at the end of each product’s life cycle. On will provide these subscribers with the latest models, while recycling returned items and using the raw material to create new pieces.

It’s essentially rewarding the consumer for recycling the shoe with a new, updated version of it. That’s brilliant. It gives people more incentive to actually send the shoe back, which wasn’t happening with the Futurecraft Loop. They weren’t getting shoes back as quickly as possible.

Keep an eye on this one. I have a feeling On won’t have that issue here. We’ll see, though. Either way, this is a W for sustainability.

I was today years old when I learned Batman was fly as hell

Fam, did y’all know Batman was out here wearing Jordan 6’s in ‘Batman Returns’ because I absolutely did not and this just blew my entire mind.

WHO KNEW MICHAEL KEATON WAS GIVING IT UP LIKE THIS?!?! He is almost certainly not my favorite Batman, but he just climbed up the rankings for sure.

Next Batman boot we gotta get slim to wear some black Timbs. He’s in Gotham! It’s only right. Get on it, Pattinson.

What’s droppin’, bruh

That’s a wrap for Monday! Thank y’all for rocking with your boy this morning. I appreciate your time, as always! See you on Wednesday for the thread!

Make sure you’re subscribed! We’ve got a pair of kicks waiting on a couple of y’all soon. The road to 2,000 continues! I’ll also keep y’all in the loop on this merch coming!

Y’all know the vibes. Peace and love. Be easy. Be well. Be kind.

Signing off.

Sykes 💯

The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 95 — Happy trails to the triple B's

Welp. That was fun. The fight continues, though.

Good morning, folks! Welcome back to The Kicks You Wear! Thanks so much for rocking with your boy on this glorious Friday morning.

We are well on our way to 2,000 subs! Tell a friend to tell another friend to subscribe to the Kicks You Wear. Come for the sneaker raffle, stay for the content!

Let’s jump in.

Big Baller Brand is done but it’s fight is not

(Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash)

Just three years ago, Lonzo Ball, Lavar Ball and Big Baller Brand took the internet by storm with their $495 ZO2 hoop shoes.

Fast forward to today and the brand is essentially dead. Lonzo left the brand in the dust after he figured out BBB confidant Alan Foster was stealing from him. LaMelo Ball — potentially the #1 pick in the NBA draft — just signed a deal with Puma and is talking about it as a fond memory.

The boys seem to want nothing to do with it. If that wasn’t official before, it seems to be now. Lavar Ball was asked about LaMelo’s Puma deal in a visit to Complex’s Full Size Run and he doesn’t seem to be too involved.

The end of an era. And it’s really because they weren’t fully prepared for the battle they were about to go through.

  • The pricing wasn’t the problem. Yes, the shoes were mad expensive. But people buy ridiculously expensive, weird things all the time like $90 McNugget pillows.

  • The biggest problem was they just didn’t have the infrastructure to mass produce a shoe. It takes a lot. A factory. A distributor. They didn’t have those on lock. There are some people who still don’t have their orders. And the materials were terrible.

  • On top of that their circle was clearly not the most trustworthy. They had someone stealing money from within, and that’s never a good thing.

You can’t afford to miss when going up against giants like Nike and Adidas. They did. It’s a shame how things turned out.

It failed, but Big Baller Brand still accomplished something. It was certainly imperfect, but it was a disruptor. And there’s always a need for disruption. That’s the case across industries, but especially here where a few companies run the entire thing.

It showed what is possible. They built an insane amount of momentum and made history.

  • Lonzo Ball is one of just a handful of NBA rookies to have a signature shoe in year 1 and the only one who did it with a company he owned.

  • LaMelo Ball was the only high schooler to have a signature shoe. That means something.

That’s exactly why this will happen again. We’re going to see this done in the near future and, because of this blueprint, it’ll be done better.

Imagine if Zion Williamson came in to the NBA with this same attitude. Or if future stars like Paige Bueckers or Emoni Bates decide to do something similar.

Maybe it’s a football star. Maybe it’s baseball. Who knows? All we know is that it’s possible. And with the right amount of preparation, infrastructure and dedication, it’s going to work. We just have to wait for it to happen.

I’d bet my bottom dollar that it’s soon.

More Kobe’s are coming

(Photo by Ramiro Pianarosa on Unsplash)

So I have some great news and some, well, maybe not so great news for you, folks.

Let’s start with the great news. There are definitely more Kobe’s coming down the line and they’re also coming soon! In fact, as you’re reading this, a pair is about to drop.

  • DeMar DeRozan’s “Zebra” Protro 5 player exclusive is dropping on Friday at 10 a.m. ET via Nike’s SNKRS app, of course. That’s in the immediate future.

  • Then, in 2021, Nike is retro’ing a Protro version of the Kobe 6 “Chaos.” We’ve already got a glimpse at em.

Now, here's the not so great part. They’re both probably going to be sold in extremely limited quantities.

  • The DeRozan PE almost certainly is. It’s a SNKRS draw, which is better than a first come, first serve sale but not that much better.

  • We don’t have any information on the Protro 6 drop just yet, so there’s more hope there. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

It’s awesome that Nike is continuing to drop Kobe’s. It had already been so long since people were able to get their hands on a Kobe shoe. Making people wait longer would’ve been awful — especially after Mamba week.

But on the flip side, this is just more of the same. It’s disappointing. The DeRozan PE and the upcoming PJ Tucker PE are both extremely rare. They’ll both be hard to get.

The thing with these is people don’t care about how rare these are or whether they’re a collectors item or not. They just want their damn Kobe’s.

Hopefully, the people who want them can get them at some point. All we can do is keep trying.

Voting is the new hot sneaker collab

I love to hate on SNKRS and Under Armour has had a pretty terrible year, all things considered.

But both Nike and Under Armour are doing two objectively great things for common folks. They’re encouraging people to vote and helping them register.

Both companies launched two voting initiatives this week.

  • Nike partnered with Rock The Vote to create a voter registry link that they’re featuring on the site and the SNKRS app.

  • Under Armour launched a “Run to Vote” initiative that encourages users to vote and provides them with resources on registering, mail-in ballot instructions and trackable voter registration links on receipts.

It’s just a start and is the bare minimum, but it is a start. That matters. We constantly talking about these companies needing to give back to the people that hold them up and this is absolutely a way of doing that

Now, when it’s time to talk about some of these campaign donations? Let me know. Because I’m here for it.

Telfar x UGGs coming soon

Listen. 2020 has been a downright awful year. But Telfar Clemens is absolutely having the best one possible.

2021 is already looking real good for Telfar, too. They got some Uggs coming, folks!


#feelUGG #inmyfeels
September 17, 2020

No idea what this is going to look like. No idea how this is going to work. All I know is that this dude is a genius and whatever comes from this will be spectacular. Act accordingly, y’all.

The Kicks We Wear

Y’ALL KNOW THE VIBEZZZZ! Let’s get right to it!

The homie Danny kicked us off with some SUSTAINABLE HEAT. The Jordan 1 Crater looks incredible.

Then the homie Sarah came through in some Air Max 90 grape flavors.

The homie Devin came through in some the Heart and Mind NMDs and these joints are SICK.

The homie Ray popped out in some icy Atsumas. These joints are cold!

The homie Josh just casually stepped out to the doctor’s office in the crimson tints. My word.

The homie Marcos did his own thing with some Samba flavors in the AF1.

The homie Sugar Shake popped out in the 77 Blazer Sketch joints. So cold.

The homie Jalen popped out in the Black toes. This man has been going CRAZY lately.

The homie Jaire popped out in the Shadows and I still gotta get my pair, dog.

The homie Hardly Clerkin came through with the Kap AF1’s! Shoutout to em!

And then the homie Nico sent us home with the Supreme Tailwinds. MY WORD these are torch.

Y’all absolutely SMOKED this thread. Give yourselves a pat on the back, family.

Folks, thank you so much for spending a bit of your Friday with me! Truly appreciate you. Y’all are the best, man.

Don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already! Life is too short to be blocking your blessings. You might have some kicks on the way! You never know.

Anyway, family. Y’all know what it is. Peace and love. Be easy. Be well. Be kind.


Sykes 💯

KYW Thread, Vol. 6 — The State of Under Armour

Good evening, folks! It’s time for your weekly KYW thread. This week, we’re putting a bit of a spotlight on Under Armour.

On Monday, I wrote about the ill-timing of their 600 layoffs. But that’s just one piece of a larger picture for this company that has had so many ups and downs in 2020. From news about the S.E.C. probe to the UCLA and Cal deals to re-upping Steph Curry, there’s just so much going on here.

What do you think about the company’s current place? Are they on a good path? If not, what do you think they’re doing wrong and how do you fix it?

Let us know in the comments below!

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