The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 82 — Can't win without the W

We need a WNBA signature athlete and we need it now

Good morning, folks! Welcome back to the Kicks You Wear. Thanks for spending a bit of your Monday morning with me. I truly appreciate it!

Alright, so we’re going to put the forum idea to a vote. Three choices: We can host weekly Substack threads, I can launch a Slack channel or throw it on Discord. I’m leaning toward starting with Substack initially, and then moving it if y’all vibe with it heavy.

Here’s another quick poll. Let me know what option you think is best! The one with the most votes is the one we go forward with first.

With all that said, let’s get right to it.

It’s time to put faith in the WNBA

(Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash)

It’s basically been two decades since we got anything close to a signature shoe for a WNBA athlete.

  • In the 90’s when the WNBA was new and the sneaker industry wasn’t the monstrous industry that it is today, there were plenty of WNBA signature models to choose from.

  • Sheryl Swoopes, Dawn Staley, Rebecca Lobo, Cynthia Cooper. The list goes on. They all had shoes with their names on them.

Today, there’s not a single player with a signature shoe in the WNBA despite the fact that we live in a moment where the league has, arguably, more star talent than it has ever had before.

Elena Delle Donne, Candace Parker, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Breonna Stewart, Sabrina Ionescu. All names currently playing in the league right now at this second who have the right combination of personality and talent to sell just about anything.

Yet, here we are, signature shoeless. In a 2017 story with the New York Times, the NPD Group’s Matt Powell explained why.

“The real question is why didn’t it go forward, and the real answer is they didn’t sell enough shoes to make it worth their while. I’m hopeful it will change. If a brand figures this out and starts to make a lot of money, everyone else is going to follow suit.”

The W didn’t sell product — shoes or otherwise. That’s a fact. It’s why three teams folded in the mid-2000’s and two others moved. The capital just wasn’t there. People weren’t watching the league. There weren’t fans filling seats. The problem has been well-documented.

But we need to be extremely honest about this problem. That wasn’t a WNBA problem — it was a NIke problem. It was an ESPN problem. The institutions that should be selling and marketing the WNBA and its stars have failed to do so effectively.

Bringing it back to sneakers, the WNBA is entertaining. The stars are engaging. The players are fun. And they absolutely can move product — shoes or otherwise.

We have proof.

  • The WNBA orange hoodie that you’ve seen all over the internet was the leading product on Fanatics and sold out after the league’s opening weekend.

  • That wasn’t coincidence. We saw this hoodie everywhere. It was on WNBA stars, it was on NBA stars, it was featured in ads. This was intentionally pushed.

Having a top selling item on Fanatics is not an easy feat. And it’s also not something that we’ve typically seen for the WNBA.

Now imagine if Nike did this with a sneaker. The Air Ionescus or Air Taurasis. Imagine a world where, instead of hooking these ladies up with sweet PE’s of NBA players, sneaker companies gave them their own shoe and did that in reverse.

On top of that, Sheryl Swoopes has one of the most popular Nike signature hoops shoes ever. It was so good it was retro’d years ago. Melody Ehsani’s Jordan OG Women’s shoe was inspired by it.

This stuff works. That hoodie shows us that. Sheryl Swoopes has already shown us that. It’s just a matter of putting the resources forward in doing it. The money is there. The audience is there. It just has to get done.

Your move, Nike. And the rest of y’all, too.

If Hype were a person it’d be Travis Scott

(Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash)

There’s empirical proof of this. On Thursday, Travis Scott posted a picture of himself lamping in the Newcastle Dunks on Instagram. It’s a super chill picture — nothing really out of the ordinary.

We made a bond to neva forget !
July 30, 2020

Right after this was posted these very same Newcastle Dunks that were already selling for hundreds of dollars on StockX jumped in price over 40%.

On one hand this goes to show you the power of Travis Scott. This is a real time documentation of it.

  • He’s built his brand up through sneakers in a way that’s extremely cheap for him and gets him a ton of pub. These Dunks didn’t cost him that much, yet here he is getting a ton of press for it.

  • This is what influence truly looks like. It’s exactly why Nike has tapped into him the way they have. Anything they want to move? Just have Travis wear it. It’ll go.

On the other hand it’s hard to believe that we’re really this corny as a sneaker loving people.

  • This is sneaker culture in 2020, all encapsulated in one tweet. You’ve got people buying this shoe simply because Travis Scott posted an IG picture in it. This simply isn’t a thing a decade ago. Maybe even five or six years ago.

  • And it’s not only that. It’s the fact that the price jumped over 40%. They were willing to pay whatever for this shoe Travis Scott wore.

This is the game, though. It is what it is. Shoutout to the homie who had some Newcastles chilling in the crib and just came up. I know you out there shining.

Under Armour caught a dub

The gloomy picture that is Under Armour’s 2020 just got a tiny bit brighter on Friday. They had their first win in what feels like years.

The company’s report from Friday’s earnings call showed things were not as bad as originally projected after the last call they had in the winter. Things still don’t look the greatest, but they’re not as bad as they thought. And that’s a W.

The details:

  • Their revenue exceeded expectations through this quarter. They pulled in $707.6 million in revenue as opposed to a projected $543.8 million.

  • They also only lost 31 cent per share as opposed the the 41 cent anticipated before the quarter.

These jumps are a direct result of people gradually going into stores again. That, along with a digital sales boost, allowed them to edge out analyst projections, which are generally built to show the worst case scenario anyway.

Don’t get it twisted. They’ve still got their issues. The company is still projecting a potential 20% to 25% dip in revenue for the back half of 2020. And they’ve still got the UCLA stuff along with the S.E.C. stuff to deal with.

But this is definitely a positive step forward. It’s something they can build on. And for Under Armour, that’s really all you can ask for right now.

The Air Ship is back!…but you probably won’t get it

This shoe is the literally the grail of grails. The original “banned” shoe that Michael Jordan couldn’t wear — the one that has entire documentaries about it. It’s coming back.

The Air Ship is back and updated after years of sneakerheads everywhere asking for it. It comes equipped with react cushioning and all. Looks great!

Too bad that you literally have to FLY TO ITALY THIS WEEK and participate in a scavenger hunt just to get a ticket in the Back-Door Bottega raffle.

Yup. That’s facts. From Complex:

Back-Door Bottega confirmed that in order to participate in the in-store raffle, fans will need to find one of the 150 stickers hidden throughout the iconic landmarks of Bologna, Italy, and scan its QR code from Aug. 1 to Aug. 6.

This game we play, folks. This game we play.

What’s droppin’, bruh

Issa wrap for Monday, folks! Thanks so much for hanging with me today. Truly appreciate your time. Back again on Friday!

Don’t forget to vote on the community format! The poll closes next Monday. I’ll post the results right here.

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

Signing off.

Sykes 💯