K-Swiss’ president also explained to FN what traits define today’s young, sophisticated consumer.
In 2004 K-Swiss attempted a launch into basketball. I was in contact with Jeremy Much who handle grassroots contacts. I rebranded my Center Court Basketball website with K-Swiss logo and got in a ton of the Roundball KS1 and gave them to Hillcrest H.S. and Northside H.S. actually bought a set. I was giving out Roundball KS1 jerseys and it seemed that K-Swiss would attempt to make a dent in the basketball market. Just as quickly as the brand made its entrance, it killed the program. They resorted to the classics and entered parkour and outside of the classic tennis sneaker they haven’t really been heard of.
It’s 2017. Retro and casual are back in full force and dominating the market. Not to be outdone K-Swiss is doing what Reebok and Asics and Puma and (insert every brand) they are jumping into the casual athletic, modern retro trend with a series of releases with smart price points. The question is will these reinterpretations of the adidas NMD, Tubular, Primeknit excite people enough to pull them away from the table where adidas is dominating with BOOST and Nike is still killing with classic Air Max and Huarache models?
K-Swiss is entering into a market that I make predictions about often and often I’m right. Will these models make any noise? At 55-120 dollars possibly, but Asics’ Knit shoe will be the third model in the line behind adidas and Nike offerings. I’m making this call now because Asics has just enough brand cache and reach that they aren’t overcoming a stagnant period where the market simply hasn’t been interested in K-Swiss. K-Swiss’ Weekender model will battle with Skechers and Skechers will win. They can attempt to make it more of a fashion offering, but they haven’t begun any rebranding and changing of their e-commerce platform. There aren’t any YouTube videos touting a revival.
In short when I talk about why I stopped making ARCH footwear, I tell people that I launched in reverse. I had enough money to make the product and then try to figure out how to deliver it to the market. I didn’t generate content to drive sales and by the time I figured out how to make the shoes move, I ran out of money. Here K-Swiss definitely has a stylish product with the K-Icon Knit which has those additions of leather hits, but although insiders are saying people don’t want garish branding, people still want branding and without any identifiers this model as nice as it is, the K-Swiss looks like a Brandblack model and that company hasn’t found its footing and they have an NBA basketball player as an endorser. The shoe also looks like a number of new brands doing some fantastic marketing and culture creation like York Athletics. The difference is that K-Swiss has something Brandblack and York don’t have… history and that’s where the brand can win.
I actually like the offerings. Do I think they could work? Yes, the Icon Knit is a very solid offering, but I have to correct myself because I’ve actually seen the shoe that is becoming more popular right now in that third spot behind adidas and Nike, and it’s actually New Balance and their 247 model. The sales on that shoe have been solid and their premium version makes this K-Swiss lineup a more difficult move. If K-Swiss actually begins to redesign their site and mount a campaign where they begin to create content based on the past and begin to blog they can begin a dialogue with fans and slowly segue the site into a bolder design and presence featuring the Generation series. It can work.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on the three shoes pictured.