Today, at 3:00 p.m. EST at WayOfWade.com, Heat star Dwyane Wade and Li-Ning will offer the first Way of Wade 2 “Overtown” colorways to the American market. Before the launch, Wade spoke with Dime and others by phone about the switch to Li-Ning, the new WOW 2’s and launching in the U.S. market.
Below is an edited transcript of Wade’s chat with us and others this morning:
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Dwyane Wade: I’m excited about this opportunity that I have to bring all my things and my products to U.S. for the first time. It’s a cool moment for us to be able to give out some orders to fans and some of the things they’ve been asking for, so I’m looking forward to it.
As the years go by, sneakers change for a signature athlete. What did the WOW 2 do for you that you didn’t had done before?
DW: I think the whole relationship I have with Li-Ning is different than I had before. I’ve had some great companies I’ve been a part of: Converse…obviously going to Brand Jordan for three years. I’ve been a part of some nice shoes, at times, some OK shoes at times. But this [Li-Ning] gives me an opportunity to be more in control of what I like to see. What I like I like to be a part of. And then, something different. The WOW 2, for me â€” coming off the WOW 1, what I really wanted to do, I wanted to not stray too far away from what our fans wanted with the look and that they like the look for the sneaker. So I didn’t want to stray too far from it, but you also want to change it up and give them a different face.
This “Overtown” colorway that’s inspired by Miami, how much did that have going into it being the first Way of Wade to release stateside, and how long is the U.S. Market?
DW: Well the “Overtown” for me was very important because it’s cool sitting down with my designers and my team and we look at multiple hours of the night. We talk about what we want in my season. What I want my first shoe to come out â€” to hit the market â€” to represent is the community [Overtown] that supports and has supported me for 10 years. And it being Overtime, kind of where I started doing things in the community here in Miami. Overtown is obviously one of the most storied communities in this city. And I just wanted to pay homage to that. My foundation, Wade’s World, is kind of based off a lot of what Alonzo Mourning has done in Overtime because I spent so much time there early on. And I just wanted to pay homage to that and I get the opportunity to bring some light, shed some light, on that community. I named the shoe after them.
How long has this one taken to get into the U.S. Market now?
DW: Well last year man, it being my first year signing with the brand, I didn’t know what to expect. No one knew what to expect. Obviously when I left the Jordan brand, there was a lot of negative things being said because I was going through â€” at the time â€” what we called a title brand. And no one knew what to expect. And I think it was our job to be able to come out last year and give everyone, show everyone, what we can do and what we can bring to the table. I thought the response was great, and we weren’t here last year because we didn’t have a plan. But this year, I wanted to come back and give me fans â€” like I said â€” the support of myself, the support of the sneakers in general and not be able to have these shoes. Working on a plan to say OK, we’re doing things at our own pace, we’re doing things at our own scale. But lets give our fans in the U.S. and Canada an opportunity to share in what the fans in China have: great access too, right there at home. For me. I’m happy. I’m excited. So we’re going to continue to build, continue to grow, but I’m happy with this launch today.
After you sold the first Wade shoe, and then did the second one, both shoes make use of a premium leather, I was hoping you could talk about that from a performance standpoint. We don’t really see that sort of old school craftsmanship. Talk about the performance things you wanted to do with the second shoe?
DW: For me, obviously, I love sneakers. I go through boxes of them all the time, and I say that all the them since Jordan. Just going back to the basics, of what I love. Being with Li-Ning, they gave me the opportunity and said, ‘D what do you want,’ and I wanted to go back to the basics of what I love. I wanted to go back to when I fell in love with basketball and basketball shoes. I wanted a shoe that could perform well and I am excited to bring genuine leather back. Coming back with the WOW 2, I wanted to make sure I brought that element back. That was the thing people were excited about, was bringing different materials to the shows to make very durable and can also perform as well. A real sneaker in a sense. I don’t know if this is bold, but right now I’m just excited we came up with this sneaker and it’s performed the right way.
How important was it do something different? How important was it to stand out? You’re kind of a trailblazer at this point, as someone of your stature, it’s different [to go with Li-Ning].
DW:The process energized me in a sense and my strong suit is being creative. This allowed me to put my stamp on the product and it was the right time for me to join Li-Ning. I want to show kids that they can make their own way and I know, initially, this wasn’t popular but this was the best decision for me. I stayed with Nike nine years and those were a great nine years for what I was able to accomplish by having my name on a sneaker. But now I want to take it to the next level to have it taken to other design areas of my life, and sneakers are a big part of it. And Li-Ning was the right time for me. The right mentorship and the right situation. I’m just trying to do my best with it. I want to open up doors, I want to show peers that they can make their own way to make the changes. And don’t be afraid to. It wasn’t a whole thing when I did it, for everyone, but it was the best decision for me, not only business-wise, but also creative-wise. But also what I was able to put on the court tied in to some of the things I’d done [on the court] in the past.
A lot times people create colorways to pay homage to friends and family. Should we be expecting something like a Zaire [Wade’s son] colorway in the future?
DW: That’s a great question. No doubt. When you get athletes with the opportunity to put their stamp on things from their lives, they do want to make it personable. When I first came out with my shoe, I had a quote from my mom…
I have so many different colorways and so many different things that’s coming out, it’s easy for me to do that. I’m a point where I’m just kinda reading what the response is, what my supporters are saying what they want to see. People who love the product and the Dwyane brand. That’s how I do business. I want to give people what they want to see in our sneakers.
You’re one of the fashion, style leaders in the league. How much of the off-the-court lifestyle wearability, of guys seeing you wearing your shoes off the court how much of that goes into the design?
DW: Definitely. You gotta wanna rock your own sneakers. I feel like if you don’t wanna rock your own kicks off the court, then why would anyone else want to rock them? That’s my mentality. Obviously you have to make [sneakers] that performs on the court, that goes with how reactive they are. But I want to make a sneaker that can be versatile. A sneaker that people will want to rock off the court. I felt in the Wade 1 and encore, I was able to pull it off. You’re seeing a lot of guys that want to rock them off the court with different looks. because I change the colors and all these different things. I wanna be able to rock my shoes and be comfortable and confident without the hassle.
I’m happy to partner with Fanatics. They are understanding and know what they are doing. I wanted to grow the Wade brand and this was a good way [in that they’re handling the e commerce component of today’s unvealing to the American public].
Order the new WOW 2.0 “Overtown” at WayOfWade.com at 3 p.m. EST today.
What do you think of Wade’s decision to sign with Li-Ning?
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