A strong and powerful phrase that resonates with the most sincere basketball players, both young and old. That same phrase is as old as the game itself. But the now three-year-old basketball brand Hoop Culture did something as simple as putting that phrase on a t-shirt. Now, basketball players around the world love them for it.
They started in 2010 at a youth basketball event at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. Since that time, they have capitalized by offering various t-shirts, socks, backpacks and other essential hoops gear that appeals to players around the country.
The brand is the brain child of Founder, President and CEO Mike Brown, a former 5-9 point guard, who played at Green Mountain College in Vermont (feel free to Google it). What Brown learned as a vertically challenged hustler in a game of giants is that hard work was and would always have to be his key to success. After his playing days were completed, he wanted to start an inspirational basketball apparel line. He wanted to inspire others that were passionate about basketball to do something positive with their lives. He believes that basketball players on all levels should apply the passion and work ethic they have for the game to all aspects of their lives.
“We compare ourselves to AND1 and how they started,” Brown says. “Except we don’t want to talk trash, we want to be inspirational. We are a basketball-only brand, similar to what they are, which was a core gravitational pull for athletes that spoke directly to them. We feel the basketball culture is different than any other sport. So when you speak directly to them, you get that engagement.”
Brown wasn’t talking trash about AND1. That would be almost hypocritical. In essence, he’s paying homage to one of the pioneers in the industry. Currently, Hoop Culture is being worn predominantly by youth. Having inspirational messages embedded early on fosters a healthy understanding of what the game should really be about.
Ironically, Brown mentioned that former AND1 Streetball legend Pat The Roc (Patrick Robinson) is one of their featured athletes and is essential to the brand’s exposure. Hoop Culture is providing all of the uniforms for Robinson’s annual celebrity game later this year, which will feature some NBA-level talent.
You can even find a few guys with NBA experience that have rocked the Hoop Culture swag, including Josh Selby, Nolan Smith and Marquis Daniels.
Furthering their reach, the brand also has partnerships, or has worked, with AAU Basketball, OhioBasketball.com, Michael T. White, and Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman. They have provided uniforms for teams such as Next Level Basketball, the Tri-City Thunder and many others around the United States.
Because of their humble beginnings, positive message and dope colorways, the six-member staff at Hoop Culture is enjoying their best sales year to date. They regularly offer discounts for their apparel via email and Twitter, which shows they aren’t in the industry for the money. Yes, they want to be as big as Nike Basketball someday and yes, they hope to one day have their line in the juggernaut stores like Foot Locker and Champs. However, they hope to attain those things without losing themselves or going too fast. For now, their apparel can be found in five facilities around the United States and on their website.
When asked if making kicks was something Hoop Culture would eventually strive towards, Brown said yes… with one qualifier: “We are trying to be really great at what we do best and then we will grow from there.”
“We aspire to be a lifestyle brand, kind of an off-the-court wear,” he says. “So that people who like basketball and rep the brand can wear it off the court and really showcase their passion for basketball. We want to be that lifestyle, street-wear basketball brand that is very unique and higher end so that we separate ourselves and are able to carve our own niche in that industry.”
It’s not easy to standout in today’s society, but sometimes people just want their voice to be heard. Hoop Culture gear does a great job of capturing that sentiment, loud and clear.
With eye-catching colors for their shirts, and a strong logo that is reminiscent of the seams on a basketball, Hoop Culture seems to eat, sleep and ball both literally and figuratively.
Someone should put that on a t-shirt too — wait, they already did.
For more info on Hoop Culture, visit their online store…