Current and former pro skateboarders are desirable collaboration partners for apparel and footwear companies. This is especially true for marketers specializing in, or with a strong business in, streetwear and/or sneakers, and that includes the biggest players. Most of the efforts take the form of capsule collections. Some examples from the past year:
- Reebok released a tie-dye sweatsuit with former pro skateboarder Jimmy Gorecki that is inspired by a line of sweats Gorecki produced in the past under his JSP clothing brand in the early 2010s. The new capsule was part of Reebok’s “Sport the Unexpected” campaign. Also in 2019, Philadelphia retailer Lapstone & Hammer and Gorecki, who hails from Philly, worked together on four pieces—a sweatshirt, sweat shorts, sweat pants, and t-shirt—featuring JSP’s signature tie-dye look.
- Vans paired with Lizzie Armanto on two styles of sneakers as well as apparel including a hoodie, bodysuit, baseball cap, and t-shirts, all in lavender, some with patterns such as checks or florals and other details. This is the latest Vans collection with Armanto, who has been an endorser and skate team member for the company since 2014.
- Zoo York offered a seven-piece capsule featuring archival images and quotes tied to late skateboarder Harold Hunter, as part of its Founders collection designed by Rodney Smith, Eli Morgan Gesner, and Adam Schatz, who launched the brand. The assortment consisted of long- and short-sleeved t-shirts, a hoodie, a beanie, and a bag, along with a rerelease of a Hunter sweatshirt sold in 1995. Part of the proceeds go to The Harold Hunter Foundation, which supports at-risk youth involved in skateboarding.
- Converse collaborated with Alexis Sablone on a limited-edition sneaker based on the One Star Pro model. The gold-stamped, white suede design incorporates technical features developed with the skateboarder that improve grip and durability. She recently joined the skate team that Converse sponsors.
Other athletes with similar collections in recent years, with streetwear and especially footwear-rooted lifestyle marketers, include Nora Vasconcello, Na-Kel Smith, Miles Silvas, James Jarvis, Andy Howell, Nyjah Houston, Alex Olson, and Steve Alba. In general, the products in their signature arrays are not only fashionable but incorporate features that improve both comfort and performance when skateboarding.
And of course the early superstars such as Tony Hawk and Shaun White have long had branded goods and collections. White has worked with companies such as Target, Burton, and Oakley, while Hawk had a 10-year-long deal with Kohl’s that began in 2007, as well as selling though Urban Outfitters, Macy’s, and Foot Locker. Recently Tony Hawk brand manager Apex Global signed agreements with Star Ride Kids for boys’ apparel and with New York retailers Reign and 10 Corso Cosmo to bring Hawk’s higher-end signature streetwear to the U.S.
The collaborations mentioned above collectively represent a good example of how the celebrity licensing sector works these days. Many of the names mentioned—aside from the more mainstream Hawk and White examples—are little known to the general public. But they are recognized, admired, and aspirational in the eyes of their young and loyal fans and are therefore attractive as collaborators to companies that develop products for this group.
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