VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk and sneaker brand K-Swiss are preparing for the official drop of the media mogul’s first signature shoe. The Gary Vee 001 and 002 got an advanced and limited release at ComplexCon 2017 to showcase the shoes before their official release date of Nov. 14.
FN caught up with Vaynerchuk to talk about his inspiration and more.
What made you want to partner with K-Swiss?
GV: “I am obsessed with nostalgia. Nostalgia is one of the great undervalued assets in our society — also K-Swiss is such a historical, rad brand. They go all the way back to Ice-T, when it was real gangster. Sneaker culture is super-fast, and we are seeing massive fragmentation and collaborations. Before athletes started rocking sneakers and being the face of them, that just wasn’t a thing. I thought it would be interesting if an entrepreneur would rock a sneaker and see what happens. If it works, it’s in my legacy forever as one of the first entrepreneurs ever to go at it. If it fails, it’s an inside joke with me and my buddies.”
What was your approach to the collaboration?
GV: “I either do a real collaboration or I buy the brand outright, which is the way I’m building VaynerMedia and its capabilities. I’m a counterpuncher; I like to react to opportunities. So to K-Swiss’ credit, the president, [Barney Waters], reached out, and I was like, ‘We’ll see — this is probably not going to be my kind of deal.’ I don’t want to be a brand ambassador, but it was a little more serious than that.”
Does the sneaker you designed with K-Swiss embrace the entrepreneur lifestyle?
GV: “Everybody knows that there are unlimited numbers of hardcore entrepreneurs and CEOs and major players wearing sneakers now 24/7. Sneaker culture has not only exploded for people who historically liked sneakers, but they have completely invaded. This is more me riding that wave and paying attention to what’s actually already happened.”
Whom do you think the sneaker will appeal to?
GV: “I believe entrepreneurs are going to be attracted to it, especially ones that give any crap about me whatsoever. It’s just a fun moment for all of us — the entrepreneur network. I think for sneakerheads, it was key for me to do subtle things that they would appreciate, like the cork-top [aglets], giving a nod to my wine days, the box, the limited-edition run of it, the distribution of it. I overindex as an entrepreneur, [and] I think with sneakerheads and that culture. So a little bit of that crossover will be cool.”
Which parts of the Nov. 14 release were you most involved in?
GV: “Just the content, not around the production of the products. Patrick [Buchanan, global marketing director], and Barney and those guys, they know what they are doing with the product. On the communications side, the creative that you are going to see on Facebook and Instagram around my shoes is all controlled and distributed by us — me and my team. A lot of the work you saw from the K-Swiss ‘Generation-K’ campaign and the hero videos, we had a lot to do with that on the VaynerMedia side. We had a lot to do with the creative process of the marketing.”