The first question had to be “why?!” Why break into, of all things, the basketball sneaker game? Why would Brandblack subject themselves voluntarily to NSW and adidas shadows? Why take on giants with a name that’s not remotely established?
Well…why the hell not?
Back in 2013, a small upstart, ambitions and all, wanted to do something grand. Brandblack intended on, quite confidently, settling into their own niche within the industry. You don’t have to be an expert to imagine some of the stresses to consider. How would you compete? What makes your product different? What makes you better?
That’s among the more interesting things about Brandblack. It isn’t necessarily about beating out the competition in any sort of numerical way. Of course, not that even approaching adidas – much less Nike – is anything short of fantasy at this point. Instead, it’s more about taking advantage of the success of giants. In a great interview with Luis Ruano on The Hundreds, founder David Raysse explains his brand’s approach as appealing to those who “want something different.”
Essentially, Nike has gotten so huge that they’ve actually come to a position of slight victimization by that success. There is a significant group, though a minority, that is constantly on the search for something other than the top brands. The sheer volume of these goliaths – showing up everywhere and advertised at all times – makes them easier to cast aside as “those brands.”
So, how do you do it? How do you design, develop, and distribute a product that holds its technical own against the giants without trying to topple them? Now, for Brandblack’s part, it came down to making a quality sneaker that could stand the test of comparison. Rather than reach for the stars – and build a self-defeating marketing plan to match – they’ve released solid performer after solid performer.
Each Brandblack sneaker comes equipped with what you’d expect from a high-performance basketball shoe. The best example of the brand’s design ethos is probably the Rare Metal pair. The cushion is what the company calls Jetlon, a polymer that touts energy recovery capabilities as well as competent longevity. The outsole is fairly unique, sporting what Brandblack calls a blade system. One of the more remarkable features is the upper, boasting materials that feel more suited for a 90’s high-wear hooping shoe (AKA awesome).
More importantly, Brandblack’s signature hoops sponsee is Jamal Crawford. You don’t need to have been watching basketball for ages to know of Crawford’s career-long antics. He also happens to have his signature line with the brand. The J.Crossover signatures carry the same design motif of other Brandblack releases. But, the association with Crawford works for them in more ways than star power.
In their mission to carve out a niche, making products for the Nike and adidas fatigued consumers out there, Brandblack’s philosophy is probably what J.Crossover himself thinks before attempting some of his jaw-dropping moves and shots.
Why the hell not?