In the spirit of epic sneaker collaborations—Michael and Nike, Kanye and Adidas—here comes Gary Vaynerchuk and K-Swiss.
Yep, Gary Vaynerchuk has a sneaker ready to drop. Gary Vaynerchuk the entrepreneur who founded the social media, influencer, digital marketing agency VaynerMedia. Gary Vaynerchuk, the inspirational poster personified, has a sneaker.
There are two sneakers actually, one is a green knit running shoe with athletic sock stitched inside, and the other is a simple, vintage-inspired black low-top with green interior.
The GaryVees 001 and 002, as they are named, carry his signature like a classic pair of Patrick Ewings. Vaynerchuk will unveil them at next week's ComplexCon, but already offered a glimpse on his website.
It's rare for an entrepreneur to have a sneaker, but not unheard of, according to Matt Powell, sports industry analyst at NPD Group. Warren Buffet, the Oracle of Omaha, once had his own Brooks running shoe with his face engraved on the sides. But "doing sneakers with business people is still new ground," Powell says.
Powell covers the sports and apparel sectors and follows the retail trends, and even made a name for himself as a Kanye West critic. "I would remind everybody that these collaborations are never intended to be really commercial," Powell says, adding that he would be surprised if Vaynerchuk and K-Swiss made more than 10,000 of the sneakers, and likely far fewer.
They will be sold in stores, according to Vaynerchuk's announcement, and sell for between $85 and $100. But Powell says "the shoes are salable" and in vogue. "Classic shoes that were introduced years ago and are now being brought back," Powell says. "And K-Swiss was one of the primary brands back in the day."
Vaynerchuk is just one of the entrepreneurs getting a sneaker from K-Swiss, which released a "Generation K" line with other fashion, artistic and digital personalities on its roster.
The entrepreneurial endorsement was an interesting choice, according to Matthew Edwards, creative director at Johannes Leonardo, who knows the industry from his work with Adidas.
"Gary Vaynerchuk bears none of the typical traits we expect to see in the world of sneaker influencers—he is not a sports star, a musician or an artist," Edwards says. "He is, however, wildly successful and is perceived as self-made, two things that would surely appeal to any young person."
Vaynermedia did not return a request for comment about the shoes or how they will be marketed.
Will the sneakers be fashionable in the boardroom? Edwards says they might appeal to a "slightly older audience."
"The sneaker feels more classic and easy to wear than a true influencer statement piece," Edward says. "Something that paired with jeans and a T-shirt would make any aging exec feel like the cool guy in the boardroom. Will it cause lines around the block? Only time will tell."