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Insider Ties: Brand Discussion – And1 Basketball: Part 3

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Final question in this brand discussion with Dallas Stokes of And1. In this segment I get to the core of why I wanted to interview Dallas.

Brand: And1

Primary Business: Basketball Footwear and Apparel

Website: And1

Best article on the brand: Slam OnlineBall is Life these articles cover a lot of the details on where the brand has been and where they are going.

Interview Series: View Part 1     View Part 2

Final Questions: The evidence is overwhelming in regard to slowing basketball sales, will this shift in footwear hinder And1’s reentry?

Answer from Dallas: Honestly I had a major buyer tell me basketball is flat just the other day. Honestly I don’t think that’s it at all. The people want basketball and choices but when you’re sitting on a million dead pairs of 20 year old dead stock because companies aren’t being innovative under $200, their hands are kinda tied.

The majors have ramped up online sales and branded stores because they kinda stuck it to buyers selling 30 year old shoes in 30 different colors. That may have worked two generations ago but the kids of today don’t focus on legends they never seen.

These kids focus on movements and you can’t tell the same stories for 50 years and expect new results. Coming back to And1 people were like when are the tours coming back. As far as I’m concerned they never left because all these smaller brands just took our people and moves and didn’t innovate an inch.  Its cool… Y’all got like six months to get it together then Daddy’s home.

My analysis of the comments from Dallas: Stokesworld is a supremely confident designer and brand developer, but I fear the inability to actually understand the numbers on sales may be a task that could be a disruption for the growth of the company. Basketball has been declining for over 3 years. This is not a new scenario. I’ve seen the shift firsthand in my store with sales dropping drastically. When you add in the fact that the market growth is improving for adidas and Under Armour, that could signal a difficult market for And1.

It could signal difficulty, but it doesn’t.

Consider this, when And1 first appeared, the league still had endorsers wearing New Balance, Brooks, Avia, Etonic, DaDa, Nike, Ewing… the landscape of the NBA and its footwear was very diverse and the type of money that is being tossed around now was not available. With the money that is being dropped on players, brands are stuck with those players and have to create narratives every year to keep buyers excited.

Dallas is right about the stories playing out. That’s because every release is a manufactured hype, not the real, gritty truth of the players. Branding is about the next release and Nike, adidas and Under Armour are weighing themselves down with innovation. They sold people the narrative that technology makes you a baller. Now a kid has to see tech as a reason to buy a hoops shoe. This means design is replace functionality. Looks are replacing sturdiness, and the lighter a shoe is the better it is, but lighter also means a sport that is played with Force=Mass x Acceleration is being played with shoes that are basically socks. That’s not innovation, it’s stupidity.

Like I said, the brands are throwing money around and now a company like Nike can just snatch up players for nothing. Same with adidas. Under Armour is making a move to do this, but And1 has the ability to offer the players a real reason for endorsing the brand, growth. In Part 1 I said Sean Kilpatrick was a non-factor. I was wrong. There is a reason Kilpatrick is the perfect rep for And1. Not just because he’s a New Yorker, but his story is incredible. There is an opportunity here. And1 is retro. Kilpatrick is an amazing story. KITH is showing its marketing skill by linking with The Lox. And1 should definitely consider using a “beat down” beyond its prime emcee to show the resurgence. A DMX vocal (not the man, can’t be too retro and dude is still shaky) viral video will connect the past with the present and Kilpatrick is marketable from this standpoint. Born Ready is ready.

The marketing materials are there, but the idea that kids aren’t focused on the same stories is a failure to understand the connection between the current trend and how retro never really leaves. I’m not talking retro in regard to Jordans. I’m talking retro in regard to staples. And1 has a staple, but it’s not a comfort based staple, the Tai Chi. Right now sales are trending around shoes that have been around for decades. The Superstar, Stan Smith, Chuck Taylor and shoes with cushioning are dominating vs basketball. And1 does not have a comfortable staple unless a modified Tochillin is in the works. I hope it is.

Overall, the push to restore And1 will be challenging, but Dallas Stokes can pull it off. Hey if a dude can put Kevin Garnett into Anta’s and actually make it acceptable, if a guy can make Protege with NBA players work, give that same guy a brand with a great history and he can help that brand Dominate the Game #dtg #dominatethegame. Good luck Dallas and And1.