Converse is pushing its way back into the basketball market.
The brand announced on Friday that it had signed Washington Wizards star Kelly Oubre Jr. to a multi-year footwear and apparel endorsement year.
The partnership is an interesting one, as Oubre Jr. is expected to wear sneakers from Nike, Converse’s parent company, when on the court. He will rep Converse in his pre-game looks, as well as star in lifestyle campaigns and provide input on upcoming apparel and footwear plans.
Converse is a brand with a storied history in the basketball space. Its iconic Chuck Taylor is named after a basketball star, and the brand was the official basketball shoe of the Olympic Games between 1936 and 1968.
As more technologically advanced footwear came to overtake the Chuck Taylor, Converse has come to occupy the lifestyle space — but its partnership with Oubre Jr. marks a return to these basketball roots.
Oubre Jr. was under contract with Adidas until Oct. 1, when his rookie contract with the brand expired. While he was courted by a few brands, the 22-year-old went with Converse in part because he liked the nontraditional nature of the deal.
In a time when social media is evolving the game and putting basketball culture at the forefront, Converse sees the opportunity to focus on style rather than on how sneakers perform on the court.
A video announcing the partnership with Oubre Jr. puts lifestyle at the forefront, not the sport itself. The video shows the Wizard standing on an outdoor basketball court, wearing a hoodie, ripped jeans and white Converse sneakers as rain falls.
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