Antonio Brown Of LVL XIII On Working With Jason Derulo & Standing Out In The Market

The founder of men’s label LVL XIII reflects on three years in business and his new celebrity partner.

What makes LVL XIII a distinctive player in the luxury footwear market?
The number 13 represents pushing boundaries and the perception of what something can be. We launched in the marketplace in March 2013 to so much hype. There was a distinguishing factor about our brand — the signature metal plates built on the outsole of our sneakers — so I trademarked a metal plate that would sit on the midsole of our shoe, and it turned out to be a huge success.

How did your new union with singer Jason Derulo come about?
We were connected through one of his stylists, and Jason wore our brand twice on “Good Morning America.” He’s a true collaborator on luxury goods, so the collaboration with sneakers will help LXL XIII achieve its goals and help Jason become recognized in fashion. On the footwear side, he’s definitely going to be a brand collaborator. We already [worked together] on a few styles that will launch at New York Fashion Week: Men’s. He gives me ideas and suggestions, and we figure out what works best.

Jason Derulo LVL XIII Sneakers
Jason Derulo in LVL XIII sneakers.
CREDIT: REX Shutterstock.

What was your experience in the fashion industry prior to launching the brand?
I was working as the financial controller for a doll manufacturer called The Alexander Doll Co. We manufactured high-end luxury dolls and clothes for the dolls. At the time, I knew nothing about footwear. When I decided that I wanted to start a footwear brand, I Googled “How to start a footwear brand.” Within the first year, we did $500,000 in sales. In addition, we launched in Fred Segal and Gregory’s — two special luxury boutiques.

Antonio Brown LVL XIII
Antonio Brown.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

How are you getting the word out about the line?
I’m filming a reality show with the Oxygen network, and it’s going to show the journey of my fashion brand and its launch. We’re also expanding out of footwear — we’re going to launch accessories. It’s important to build a one-stop shop for male products.

What is your retail distribution strategy?
Our primary business model is to focus on e-commerce. Sixty percent of consumers are buying luxury goods online because the market has changed so much. We offer see-now, buy-now for consumers and retailers. Consumers don’t have to wait for retail stores — they can shop online, and retailers can purchase the product and have it in stores within three to four weeks. We re-examined the traditional retail calendar — most brands require 60 to 90 days for orders.

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