Sneaker shop Bait has reeled in one collaboration after another since opening its first store in 2011. But its latest three-way partnership takes it into uncharted waters.
The growing West Coast retailer has teamed up with DreamWorks to use its licensed properties on a string of upcoming releases, executed on classic sneakers from Italy-based athletic label Diadora.
“The licensing game is like the sneaker game — it’s a small world,” said Peng Cheng, owner of Bait. “Usually footwear brands reach out directly to licensing companies or licensing companies reach out to footwear players — there’s not a middle person or business. It’s unique to have a triple-branded licensing collaboration.”
The partnership will yield a total of six shoes inspired by some of DreamWorks’ biggest entertainment franchises, including Kung Fu Panda, Where’s Wally (Waldo), Shrek, Felix the Cat and Skeletor.
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First up is the Kung Fu Panda-themed collab using Diadora’s classic S8000 sneaker. It will land in all seven Bait stores and online at Baitme.com on May 28.
After that, another style will hit every two weeks. The Where’s Wally style will also utilize the S8000 sneaker, with the Shrek, Felix the Cat and Skeletor releases using Diadora’s N9000 retro running silhouette.
All the limited-edition shoes will be available for men and women, priced at $200; the Shrek and Felix the Cat styles will be sold in toddler sizes for $100.
To build excitement for the collection, DreamWorks wanted to tie the releases around a major worldwide event, and the Copa América soccer tournament offered the perfect opportunity as it makes its U.S. debut and celebrates its 100th year in June.
So Bait created illustrations of each of the licensed characters with soccer paraphernalia and will feature the images on marketing materials for the collection, as well as on the insoles of the shoes.
The retailer also decided to take the Copa celebration one step further, reimagining Diadora’s classic Brasil ITA OG soccer cleat to resemble the tournament’s trophy. The cleat, priced at $200, will be available a week before Copa’s start.
Cheng said that the partnership initially came about because DreamWorks, which worked with Bait on a Voltron-themed apparel collection in 2014, appreciated his store’s ability to execute three-way licensed collaborations. In particular, it was impressed when the retailer pulled off a G.I. Joe-themed footwear, apparel and accessories collection with Hasbro and New Balance last summer.
Following initial discussions with DreamWorks, Bait decided to bring Diadora into the mix as the product partner. While the retailer has paired up with many athletic brands in its short history, Cheng said he was attracted to Diadora’s exceptional retro running catalog and its steep history in producing soccer shoes and apparel.
After Diadora signed on, its executives immediately invited Cheng and the Bait team to Italy to execute the designs.
“We decided together on the shoes that best fit with each character in terms of shape and features,” said Rudy Comazzetto, brand and merchandising manager for Diadora Heritage Sportswear. “Peng’s team developed the shoes with a lot of details and personalization, starting from the outsole to the insole, lining, mix material, colors, print and embroidery.”
As for Cheng, he believes this project could alter the collaboration landscape. “People are thinking of different ways to make their programs more unique and more impactful,” he said. “Our strategy is to partner with properties that we love and find angles that make programs more unique.”