The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 14 — We're going digital

Diving into Nike's new digital strategy and more.

YEEEERRRRRR! You’ve made it to the weekend — congratulations! Thank you for giving me a little bit of your time on this glorious Friday morning. Big ups to you for plowing through this work week.

Big shouts to the great Alex Marshall (@grlalx on Twitter) who apparently read through all 13 volumes of KYW in one sitting. Fam, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Ugh, I love this community.

With that out of the way, let’s dig right in.

Nike is doubling down on the SNKRS experience

(Photo by Paul Volkmer on Unsplash)

Imagine a world where SNKRS, Instagram and your local Nike store are all smashed together into one big digital space.

You won’t have to imagine that for much longer, because it’s actually happening, Quartz’s Marc Bain writes (subscription).

Nike’s digital team in New York is developing a new digital strategy as we speak that takes the experience sneaker heads have on the SNKRS app and replicates it for customers in the company’s phylums.

  • For example, if you’re a runner you’d get notifications for the latest and greatest running merch and kicks. You’d also get access to content and details on those things just like the back stories we get for shoes on the SNKRS app.

The company is calling them “obsessed communities,” Bain writes. They’re made of people who are obsessed with running, training, basketball, skating and everything else under the Nike umbrella.

I know what you’re thinking. Nike’s SNKRS app is frustrating, to say the least. I’m something like 0-38 in trying to cop exclusives off of the app — not even kidding. I contemplate just hurling my phone at a wall every other weekend.

So reading the news that Nike planned on enhancing its digital consumer experience by using the SNKRS blueprint was a bit, uh, disconcerting to say the least. It’s not a bad idea, though.

  • Nike is tapping into a social marketing strategy that allows actual consumers to create a buzz surrounding their favorite products. Influential consumers can share pictures, “stories” like on Instagram, and other content through the app and make it a bit more organic than your typical Nike promotion.

  • Nike will use that content to collect data on things like what products people are hovering over and what stories they’re watching most and where they’re watching from. Kind of creepy, but yeah. Tailor made experience, or whatever.

The thinking here is that the sneaker head community is no different from any other community that likes to buy dope stuff and like to share their experiences with their new dope stuff with other people. Using that need to share to sell more stuff is smart.

In the long run Nike is going to have a lot more digital initiatives along these lines. . Incoming CEO John Donahoe has a background in e-commerce and he’s fueling the company’s direct-to-consumer push. This strategy feeds right into that and it also explains the move away from Amazon.

Whatever they do, they just can’t screw this up. I swear on everything I love that if the bots are scooping up the latest Nike Tech Fleeces and running shorts like they do every sneaker drop I try to get I’m going to lose my shit.

D Wade and D’Lo take the next step at Li-Ning

(Photo by Andre Tan on Unsplash)

It was so confusing when Dwyane Wade ditched his Jordan Brand deal for the bag Li-Ning threw at him all those years ago. It was a relatively unknown Chinese brand that hadn’t made a mark in the NBA.

Now, good Lord, do I look dumb for questioning it or what?

Wade announced he signed D’Angelo Russell as his first Way of Wade brand athlete. Read that again one more time for good measure. Dwyane Wade has signature brand athletes now.

  • He’s the Michael Jordan of Li-Ning. That means Way of Wade is a subsidiary company under the Li-Ning umbrella like Jordan Brand is with Nike.

The details: Russell is getting his own signature Way of Wade shoe that falls underneath the Li-Ning umbrella. It looks pretty dope.

No other athlete has anything like this — at least not a recently retired or active one. What Wade is doing here is a pretty big deal. There are signature shoes, of course, and athletes have their own brands, but they don’t have athletes strictly wearing their line like Russell will wear Way of Wade.

This is something that I’ve been hoping to see from more athletes that are currently playing ball or are, at least, fresh out of the game.

  • I’ve always thought that LeBron James should do something like Jordan and have his own “King” signature line that is its own entity. The same with Kobe Bryant.

  • Li-Ning needs Dwyane Wade to continue to build their name in the NBA. He’s retired now, so he can’t actually play games. This was the best way to do it and also the best way for him to continue to expand his reach with the brand.

Like with Jordan Brand, there is always the issue of having a signature athlete sign to a brand named after another player and always living in that player’s shadow. Way of Wade could run into that problem down the line, but Wade himself doesn’t strike me as the Jordan type that will always force himself into a conversation.

D’Angelo Russell is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m interested in seeing if anyone else jumps on board with Way of Wade anytime soon.

Looks like I’m going to Toronto soon

I’ve never actually made a 1 of 1 before, but it’s definitely one of my dreams as a sneaker head. Now I have hope.

Mack House Inc., a customizing shop in Toronto, is offering a two-hour, self-service sneaker customization experience for those with even a tiny bit of artistic ability, per Blog TO. I can color so that counts, right?

Here’s how it works. You cop a pair of sneakers that you want to customize and use whatever is available in the Mack House’s customization studio to do it within that two hour window.

Their Instagram page has some masterpieces. This Air Max 1 is really clean.

Had some fun with the Air Max 1 Schematic c/o our @niketoronto family 👟🙏🏼 How did Mack House customize ‘em? We added some colour with a painted sock liner + sharpie accents on the details. We tied it all together with black sharpie outlined on the laces to create that sketched look 🖊
August 10, 2019

For those of you interested in customizing yourself, I have a few tips for you.

  • You’re best off grabbing a white shoe — think a pair of Ice White Air Force 1’s or some Stan Smiths. The shoe is a blank canvas waiting on you to spice it up.

  • Leather is best to work with in terms of material. It’s possible to do, but it’s not easy to customize like mesh or suede or whatever. You’ve got to be a pro’s pro for that.

  • Denim is cool too, honestly. Just don’t try to change the color too much unless you’re acid washing them. Even then, you’ve got to be careful not to overdo it and break the shoe down.

A lot of you have been hitting me up about custom kicks and I hear y’all. I’ll put something together more in depth soon. Then we can plan a trip to the 6.

Adidas is forever

Sneakers back in the 1970’s and 1980’s are having a bit of a resurgence, but none have really come back like the old Adidas classics have.

The Superstar and the Stan Smith are two of the most classic silhouettes we have in the game today. Sneaker Freaker had a pretty dope video showing how these joints have evolved with the culture along with the Continental and the all new Supercourt.

Shoutout to my guy Sumeet for pointing me to this. Take a look.

Classics never go away. They just evolve, yo.


First of all, I want to thank everyone who participated in The Kicks We Wear this week. I really want to make this newsletter worth your while and I believe inclusion is the way to do that.

We’re going to do a lot more going forward, but this was a fantastic start. Thank y’all for being the best audience ever.

Here are some of my favorite entries from this week.

Shoutout to my guy Shawn Muth, who also launched his very own kicks Instagram this week. Go show love.

Look at the damn view on this next one. What a flex! Can’t wait to link in NY, Sumeet!

Gary Harris is one of the most underrated sneaker heads in the NBA right now. Honestly, the Nuggets squad has some lowkey gems. Shoutout T.J. for putting me on.

Thanks for playing, y’all. This was extremely fun! Remember, if you want your submissions in the newsletter on Friday tweet me or tag me on Instagram @MikeDSykes with the hashtag #TheKicksWeWear. Also e-mail me at! I wanna see some dope shit.

That’s it for this week, y’all! See you Monday. Tell a friend to subscribe here. Don’t forget to share!

Be easy. Be kind. Peace and love.

Signing off.

Sykes 💯