The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 41 — New Balance ain't playing with y'all
2020 for NB is off to a great start
|Mike D. Sykes, II||Mar 2|| 3|
Good morning, folks! Happy Monday! Hope you had a great leap day. February 29th is always a weird one, right? Hope y’all had some luck with the AstroDunk! (Yes, still sticking w that name.)
Today’s shoutout goes to Nia Dennis, the UCLA gymnast who absolutely CRUSHED this Beyonce floor routine. Judges gave her performance a 9.975 for this performance which, somehow, feels criminally underrated. That’s easily a 15 out of 10.
Ugh, whatever. Maybe next time, Nia. With that out the way, let’s dive in.
New Balance x the NBA means so much
There’s an imprint of a pair of 990 v5’s on our necks right now. New Balance is absolutely not letting up in 2020.
Last week they announced a multi-year partnership with the NBA making them an official marketing partner of the league. This deal brings the brand into a new stratosphere.
Before we get into why this deal is so important, let’s dive into what everyone gets from the deal.
New Balance gets access to a global audience and expand its reach across basketball as it builds itself up in the category.
NBA team gear will be featured on New Balance athletes in New Balance ads on every spectrum from television broadcasts to digital properties and even in retail locations.
If the watershed moment for the brand was signing Kawhi Leonard then this is absolutely them riding the waves they’ve creative over the last year.
It's less about this singular move and more about what it means in the aggregate. Just two weeks ago they launched their first signature shoe with Kawhi Leonard and now they’ve got a partnership with the league featuring their biggest starts.
What strikes me about this deal is how quickly they to turn it around. In just one year, they’ve managed to gain ground on competitors like Puma and Under Armour who they need to leapfrog if they ever hope to reach the heights of Adidas and Nike.
Catching those two is a lofty goal, but this puts them on that track by giving New Balance access to a global audience on a platform it’s never really had before.
The brand has never been known for basketball, but now it’s explicitly (but not exclusively) married to the second biggest sport around the globe’s biggest league.
Marketing in America has always been its priority. But now, all of those NBA China tours? New Balance is apart of that now in a big way.
The deal also shows how seriously the NBA and the sneaker industry are taking New Balance. The possibility of this in 2010 was laughable, but now we’re here. This is a big stamp of approval and something you can wave around at prospective signature athletes. It’s basically like an accreditation for a college.
Don’t get it twisted, though — this isn’t a one-way express ticket to a come up. They’ll still have to earn their keep.
Under Armour got the same deal in 2015 when Steph Curry was on the rise and has essentially pooped the bed with it ever since.
New Balance is in much better shape to make an impact. Their rebrand has been on point. Their collab catalog runs deep unlike Under Armour’s and they actually have dope shit to wear — look at Darius Bazley’s collection here. I’d put my money on ‘em.
No idea what the next decade looks like for New Balance but you can be sure I’m excited to see it.
Alright, I promise I’ll stop writing about them for a while now. (I’m lying).
Gen Z is killing brand loyalty and it’s great
As a proud and broke boi Millennial it’s hard for me to admit that Gen Z does anything right because I’ve been programmed to be a hater in that way.
But, man, do they do their shopping the right way. Poshmark dropped a study that revealed shopping habits of their 60 million users gathered from 2019 transaction data, along with another mini-survey of about 8,500 U.S. and Canadian consumers.
Adidas was listed as one of the brands Gen Z loves alongside Gucci (which, what?) and Brandy Melville. They’re the “get you someone who can do both” meme in the flesh.
Gen Z consumers account for about 20% of the survey’s cohort, by the way, per Yahoo!, which is a pretty good amount of people.
But this Adidas thing is so fascinating to me. Most millennials are Nike loyalists and that mostly comes from the whole Jordan/LeBron thing. But this shows that that barrier is breaking.
Gen Z came up in the age of Kanye West and his takeover on fashion, so that makes a ton of sense.
But it also doesn’t feel like an overwhelming majority of them are in love with Adidas. After all, Nike was still king in last year’s Taking Stock with Teens survey.
They seem to not really care what they wear. They mix brands — that’s how you get a high fashion brand like Gucci and a fast fashion spot like Brandy Melville on the list of brands they love. They’re breaking conventions and that’s a great thing.
Sure, it’s terrible when they’re wearing Adidas sweatpants and Jordans at the same time (please stop doing that), but it’s also good that they’re not “loyal” to specific brands and they don’t really let any single one control their shopping experience.Brand loyalty allows one space to control the market and doesn’t push companies to try new things or expand at all.
That’s why Adidas was able to make the come up they were in the last decade. Nike didn’t have to innovate — we were going to show up regardless. Until Kanye came along, anyway.
So shoutout to Gen Z, man. I hate that y’all wear Adidas sweatpants with Nike shoes, but I appreciate your willingness to try different things. Respect.
Just, please, for the third time, stop with the Nike and Adidas thing.
All aboard the sustainability train
Puma is rolling on the eco-friendly express now alongside Adidas and Nike as sneaker industry leaders investing in green product.
Puma is partnering with First Mile to launch a new collection of sustainable sneakers and apparel. Everything in the collection is made of recycled yarn made from plastic bottles.
Part of the challenge in creating eco-friendly sneakers is actually making shoes people want to wear. And, boy, let me tell you, Puma did that. These look damn good.
Puma says the product it makes with First Mile will divert 40 tons of plastic waste from landfills and oceans, which they say is approximately 1.9 million plastic bottles. That’s a lot of math.
This is a huge deal. No, those three companies are not necessarily the folks who carved out the space for green sneakers, but they’re absolutely the biggest names in it.
Brands like Allbirds or Veja deserve a lot of credit, but they’re not going to be the ones to shift the paradigm like those three are.
Alright, so let’s count. We’ve got Adidas’ Parley collection expansion, Nike’s Space Hippy collection and Puma’s First Mile collection all launching over the next calendar year.
Sustainable fashion hasn’t really hit yet, but it feels like there’s a race between brands to become a leader in it. This is the year that it’s going to stick — a real watershed moment.
Never though I’d see the day, but here we are. I’m glad it’s finally here.
The Off-White AJ4 dropping this summer is a women’s exclusive
And I won’t lie to y’all — I am VERY upset about this.
Well, not really. The lady sneakerheads absolutely deserve this W. It’s good to see them on the other side of the spectrum where they aren’t the ones who have to struggle with sizing.
But good lord do I want this shoe. LOOK AT HOW CLEAN IT IS, Y’ALL.
I am praying that they end up having my size somewhere sitting. If you see a 13.5…holla at me.
Otherwise, your boy is going to have to figure out a way to shrink his feet. Because, yeah man.
What’s droppin’, bruh
Sheila Rashid x Jordan 1 “UNITE” — Monday, March 2
Nike Air Foampostie pro — Thursday, March 5
Adidas LXCON — Thursday, March 5
LeBron 7 Fairfax — Friday, March 6
Jordan UNC 3 — Saturday, March 7
That’s it for Monday, folks! Thank you so much for giving me a bit of your time this morning. It’s been an absolute pleasure, as always, family. Love y’all.
Holla at you on Friday, fam! As always, peace and love. Be easy. Be kind.