This is a new feature and one that I have to actually work to pull off. The Brand Discussion is going to take a look at a shoe company and question the viability and direction of the brand. In order to accomplish this it will require a connection to the people who are on the inside of the company. I will ask a series of questions that will be similar for each brand. Once I have those responses I will build the series. This is not an ad so I will try to make sure I place myself in the seat of the people who will potentially pick up kicks from the brand and ask some detailed questions. I hope you dig the coverage. If you do, drop a line in the comments or share. Let’s get it in.
Primary Business: Basketball Footwear and Apparel
My Thoughts on What And1 Was: I remember when I was a high school coach. I would wake up early in the morning to watch Chi-Town Hoops on ESPN (When they had Eddie Curry and Luther Head featured on the show. The show that came on afterwards was usually a replay of the And1 Mixtape Tour show. It was the first athletic “Real World”. Ballers like AO, Black Widow, Hot Sauce were causing havoc on my basketball team because the players would practice the moves when I wasn’t in the gym. I was a young coach who actually played JUCO at the same time Skip and the rest of the NYC Rucker Park players made their way to California to play JUCO. My nemesis was Charles Dinkins. A 6-6 lanky forward from NYC who played at Southwestern in Chula Vista. I came off the bench for San Diego City. At that time And1 was just trash talk tees and something we said when we got the bucket and the foul. When I was injured and became a coach, And1 had developed into more than just the trash talk tees. Guys like Sprewell rocked the brand and Marbury had gotten drafted and was rocking the shoes. Around 99 was when the brand actually exploded and that’s when the shows started and Vince put his elbow in the rim. My last year coaching was 2004 and And1 had transitioned into Main Event complaining on the bus like Diddy closing the studio on Making the Band. By 2005 And1 began fading into sneaker hell, Wal-Mart and K-Mart. I had launched Sho-Shot and with my partner I was sponsoring JFK and the X-Ova tour as well as reaching out to Bone Collector through my contact in Portland. We sponsored the Puerto Rican Legends and we were in talks with Main Event for the new tour he was considering. In 2007 I had pushed Sho-Shot to the point where the license was taken back and the company was sold. I moved on and I hadn’t really thought about streetball or And1 until recently when I began seeing post from sneaker design legend Dallas Stokes. I waited to reach out to Dallas and ask these questions. These are the first three questions in the series. The questions were sent via e-mail.
Question 1: How Many Players Are Wearing the Shoes In the League?
Answer from Dallas: Lance Stephenson and Sean Kilpatrick are the Line up right now. Theres a few more guys coming soon but until pen hits paper and they’re done trying shoes out I’m pretty hush hush. We are getting most of our mixtape guys back as Coaches for the next era of the And1 story because you gotta respect the heritage.
Question 2: Who owns the company now?
Answer from Dallas: The company falls under Sequential Brands now. We own and partner with the likes of Martha Stewart, Jessica Simpson, Justin Timbelake’s William Rast, REVO, AVIA and a few others.
Question 3: Any colleges wearing the kicks?
Answer from Dallas: No colleges yet but we have schools like Gratz in Philly, Faith Power Warriors, Vision Prep and a few AAU teams along with a circuit and tournaments for 2017.
These first few questions lay the foundation for our Q&A. They may not seem difficult or important, but this is why I asked these questions first:
- The brand fell on hard times and the most important aspect of creating sales in footwear is marketing. If a brand lacks an endorser, they will find it hard to actually sell anything. Lance Stephenson is an amazing player. Many people don’t care for him, but when he came to the Grizzlies last season I was excited and I honestly wish he wasn’t traded, but our draft pick was in the same position, anyway… Sean Kilpatrick has about the same presence as Grevis Vasquez for UA. He’s inconsequential (no disrespect). Lance is the face, the perfect face for And1.
- Most sneaker sites don’t care about asking this question. My reason for asking who owns the company is to look at if it is public or private. Public companies have a responsibility to shareholders. Every move has to pay dividends or they begin to plan an exit. If the company is publicly traded and making an effort to grow a particular market they have usually planned for a long term growth strategy. However, looking closely at And1 brings about a different question. Since they are owned by SQBG which currently trades at 7.24/share, looking at their year and 5 year history shows that the stock is extremely volatile and this worries me. What is interesting is that there is definitely a longterm strategy in place and it involves growth abroad. The Chinese market LOOOOOVEEEESSSS Streetball. If And1 can get a share of the market in China, which is very possible with the OGs being brought back in, the brand will benefit immediately and won’t have to focus entirely on growth in the US. A few important points:* Sequential brands group announces plans to expand and1 basketball brand to China* Sequential Brands Group Inc says entered into a long-term agreement with Guirenniao Co Ltd to bring and1 basketball brand to China* Sequential Brands Group Inc says standalone And1 retail stores as well as women’s apparel and footwear is planned for 2018 in China Source text for Eikon
- Asking about SQBG is a great lead in to what is being done in the US. Under Armour last week mentioned that sponsoring colleges has contributed to their projection of a decrease in profits. As a former coach and camp coordinator who had to deal with travel ball and high school players I’m not so enthusiastic about going after high school programs and AAU. I know Sonny Vaccaro said “make the kids your brand messengers,” but for And1 this may be a move that could hurt if the strength of the US market is going to be based on high school and travel ball. I will say this, the Philly based Simon Gratz program is a beast! The prep schools will travel a lot, but I would hope that the money spent is a very small amount.
The next questions will explain more in detail what direction Dallas and And1 are headed. What should be paid attention to is the comment about connecting with the past in answer 1. Marketing now exists in the digital realm. Video is king and if there is a 50,000 budget for high school grassroots, a strategy that involves an online series featuring the recruitment of the next generation of And1 street ballers with a heavy emphasis on retro apparel, trash talk tees and hoodies might pay greater dividends. Dallas gets this and his immediate move to get the OGs back as coaches is genius.