With no shortage of think pieces contemplating the implications the Adidas-Kanye West divorce will have on the sneaker industry, experts agree that there is an unprecedented hole in the market. According to the Financial Times, Yeezy sneakers contributed €1.7 billion in annual revenue for the German-based sportswear brand. Now, a vast majority of the 10 million pairs of Yeezys that consumers would have purchased this year will most likely not get purchased. Furthermore, the recent falling out between NBA superstar Kyrie Irving and Nike is compounding the problem. In addition to having one of the top ten sneaker deals in the league, with an average annual value of $11 million, Irving’s signature sneakers were the second most popular amongst NBA players themselves last season.
Now, sneakerheads, athletes, and the average consumer are forced to look for new sneakers to spend their money on. The question is, which brand(s) will pick up the market share? This generational opportunity to gain new customers and earn loyalty intersects with another cultural phenomenon. Influenced by externalities resulting from COVID-19, the proliferation of social media, societal discourses on equity, and grass-roots movements, there is a notable increase in consumer spending with independent brands, black-owned brands, and brands that partner with black creatives.
From Sahlehe Bembury singlehandedly facilitating the revival of less fashionable brands like New Balance and Crocs with various creative collaborations to Kerby Jean-Raymond’s, of Pyer Moss, chunky Reeboks taking the streetwear movement by storm to Telfar’s iconic logo Ugg boot collaboration to Kyrie Irving exploring working with Sia Collective for his next basketball sneaker, black creatives, and independent black-owned brands are moving culture and capturing consumer dollars at a disproportionate rate – and rightfully so. To this point, we expect independent black-owned brands to fill the holes in the sneaker market this year.
The CEO by Dame Dash is precisely one of these independent black-owned brands poised to capture a healthy portion of the sneaker market in 2023. The CEO sneakers are limited edition sneakers embodying the CEO mentality, Harlem’s quintessential get-money attitude, and Dash’s famous entrepreneurial spirit. Dash is working with the great Willie Esco, fashion legend and urban fashion pioneer, to help design the unique silhouettes and colorways for the sneakers. The two visionaries are ensuring that those with the movement are reversely gentrifying the sneaker industry in style.
Dash plans to drop six unique styles this year with four colors per delivery. Dash and the CEO team will release their heritage sneakers in 2023 and begin rolling out the updated versions in 2024. All CEO drops are extremely limited by design since the team only plans to produce a couple of thousand sneakers per style. Already garnering attention, the semi-official drop for the green CEO basketball sneaker sold out within 48 hours. The CEO team is eyeing other sports to center their subsequent deliveries around, with a rumored pickleball sneaker up next.
Moreover, Dash and the CEO team are working with other popular clothing brands to pair each sneaker with a corresponding outfit. Starting with a collaboration with the viral underwear brand Ethika, Dash plans to match the CEO sneakers with all types of clothing from tracksuits to hoodies to basketball shorts, et cetera.
In accordance with the brand’s philosophy, CEO sneaker owners will also have access to a corresponding NFT featuring a proprietary CEO class as a utility. Staying true to the brand’s namesake, CEO sneaker owners will be able to learn valuable business and life lessons from Dash firsthand. This masterclass is arriving during a crucial moment as many people are hungry to become entrepreneurs, especially those looking to support businesses like Dash’s black-owned independent business. For Dash, the CEO sneakers must represent this mentality and the knowledge that comes with it.
Dash concisely summarizes this point, “Being a CEO is not just a title. It is a mentality. If people are wearing a logo, it should be something that makes them want to be better.”
As mentioned, the CEO by Dame Dash is a part of a greater sneaker lineage. Having been in the sneaker game for a while, Dash secured an early collaboration with Nike before many other celebrities did; however, the Nike x CEO project was more of a promo. Eventually, Dash would license the PRO-Keds brand from Stride Rite (who owned it at the time) for an earlier iteration of the CEO sneakers before fully committing to the independent path he is walking today. By maintaining ownership as such, Dash can manifest his vision for the CEO brand into reality and create generational wealth for his family and his employees’ families; this is why Dash has always advocated for independent black-owned businesses. Dash and his work with the CEO brand provide a blueprint for aspiring entrepreneurs, black or otherwise, to start an independent business — showing them how to find success without institutional help.
We are excited to see how much of the newly unclaimed sneaker industry real estate Dash’s CEO brand snatches up in 2023. We are also interested to see how the brand inspires other entrepreneurs and independent black-owned businesses to level up this year.