Long lauded for his creative prowess, Kerby Jean-Raymond has delivered a film with Reebok that is sure to get the fashion world singing his praises yet again.
Today, the heritage athletic brand premiered “CrateMaster,” a narrative short film directed by Jean-Raymond, the VP of creative direction at Reebok and the founder and creative director of Pyer Moss. The film, according to Reebok, “profiles grassroots inner-city basketball and the community of youth who build the game from the ground up” and is anchored in the brand’s heritage.
The film — which was shot in Brownsville, New York, located in the borough of Brooklyn near Jean-Raymond’s hometown of Flatbush — features local residents, allowing for the community to tell its story. (Prior to its release, the vilm was screened Tuesday evening at Brownsville’s Hilltop Playground for an locals exclusively.) Reebok explained the plot follows neighborhood youth throughout town while planning the evening’s basketball tournament, which is where the next “CrateMaster” will be crowned.
“For inner city areas like Brooklyn, where this particular story is told, access to play is a big issue — you have so many people with so little resources and even less space,” Jean-Raymond said in a statement. “While ‘CrateMaster’ shines a light on that, it more so defines the power of community and play that motivates these youth to create their own access, to be with one another and to compete.”
Further breaking down the film, Reebok said it “proves how creativity and passion for play can turn a city sidewalk, fence or alleyway into a gravitational force for community and competition,” which is also “a place where underdogs can become champions.”
“As part of Reebok’s new approach to storytelling, we want to showcase sports and activities that everyone can have access to,” Jean-Raymond said in a statement. “Building upon this idea that life is not a spectator sport, we’ll impart on our audience the power of movement and how you can move, no matter where you’re from or the resources you may or may not have. This people-first perspective is authentic to Reebok and will inform our dialogue moving forward.”
Jide Osifeso, Reebok artistic marketing director, explained to FN that there is a deeper meaning to this film than the impact of sport on communities.
“The story at face value is kids playing basketball. But what I really want people to do is understand that this is a symptom of an under-resourced community. We try to make it fun and lighthearted, but also ask yourself, ‘Why are they playing with crates?’ Coming up in some communities around this country, around this world, they don’t have the proper resources just to play basketball, to exercise, to play sports in the park. It’s a symptom of being under-resourced,” Osifeso said. “If you see kids playing basketball on crates and don’t have access to proper parks, you also have to ask yourself, ‘What else are they missing? What do their schools look like? What’s the nutrition program at their local high school or elementary school? How old are their books? How is their public transportation system?'”
From a footwear perspective, the “CrateMaster” film makes nods to both classic and forthcoming Reebok styles, including the grand prize of the basketball tournament: a pair of NBA icon Allen Iverson’s first signature shoe, the Question.
In addition to the film, the brand confirmed it will further support Brownsville youth and the community casted in the film by donating equipment and supplies to Friends of Hilltop for the Hilltop Playground and recreation center.
“Reebok understands that there are multiple sides to this basketball world, and for decades we’ve showed that there is more to this sport than just the pro players we see on TV every night. There is so much more to it,” Reebok head of U.S. marketing Inga Stenta told FN. “If you think of our heritage, our history in Blacktop and working with partners like Allen Iverson on and off the court for decades, that’s the other side of basketball that I don’t think everyone always sees. I hope we’re able to continue to shine the light on these communities and these amazing kids that are the other face of this sport and this community.”
The film can be watched on Reebok’s YouTube channel and via Reebok.com/CrateMaster.