Ahead of Irving’s first Anta signature shoe launch in 2024, the Mavs star is becoming an equity shareholder of the brand’s priority distribution platform.
For decades, signature athlete shoe deals have followed a traditional pay-plus-royalty compensation format. After signing a new signature shoe deal with Anta, Kyrie Irving is looking to change that, also becoming a key investor and executive officer of the global footwear marketplace platform Kicks Crew. Irving confirmed the news on his personal Instagram.
“Having equity in a distribution platform like Kicks Crew is a game-changer in the athlete-brand partnership landscape,” Irving said. “It’s not just about endorsing a product anymore — it’s about being actively involved in how that product reaches consumers.
“By partnering with Anta through a platform where I have equity, we’re redefining the traditional athlete approach to shoe deals.”
As Anta and Irving begin to map out their global distribution strategy for his first signature shoe with the brand, expected to release during the first quarter of 2024, Kicks Crew will now serve as a priority platform for each of Irving’s product launches.
After launching in China in 1991, the Anta company is the world’s third-largest sportswear brand, behind only Nike and Adidas. Of the NBA’s 26 active signature shoe athletes, Irving boasted the industry’s second-highest-grossing signature business while at Nike, only behind LeBron James.
To date, Kicks Crew has grown to become a leading global marketplace that has keyed in on providing American consumers with retail access to NBA players’ signature shoes with China-based footwear brands, along with sought-after collectible sneakers.
The overall business model differs from other resell-based platforms, as GOAT and StockX incorporate a third-party authenticity check center before passing along shoes to buying customers.
Kicks Crew works directly with authorized retailers and brands to offer products to a global audience, bypassing the at-times-questioned third-party authentication model.
“Their commitment to authenticity and quality aligns with my own standards for my footwear line,” said Irving.
Operating as the Chief Creative Officer of Anta, Irving has been hands-on throughout the planning process since signing on with the company earlier this summer in July. Anta boasts more than 9,500 stores throughout Asia but is also looking to expand its literal footprint in the United States through platforms like Kicks Crew. With this new partnership, Irving looks to unlock the key issue for past NBA signature shoe deals with Chinese brands hampered by limited US availability.
“This move allows me to have a direct stake in the success and strategy of the distribution, ensuring that the products align more closely with my vision and values,” added Irving. “It’s empowering to transition from a mere endorser to an integral part of the business model.”
In addition to the investment making Irving an equity shareholder, the 31-year-old will also take on the role of Chief Community Officer of Kicks Crew. He will look to provide insights and create givebacks and community initiatives throughout the Middle East and Africa, as well as in the US and Asia.
“This is an empowerment play for my fellow entrepreneurs, artists, and athletes who have and want their independent visions and approaches celebrated,” continued Irving. “My role as Chief Community Officer at Kicks Crew is centered around the mission of bringing all communities together through their love of sneaker culture, to push forward unity and philanthropy.”
To start the partnership, Irving and Kicks Crew will together launch his latest annual “11 Days Of Giving” initiative, giving away 111 pairs of the Anta Shock Wave 5 sneaker between December 11th and the 15th.
“Kyrie’s influence on the community and deep passion for philanthropy brings immeasurable value to bringing our vision to life,” said Kicks Crew Co-founder Ross Adrian Yip. “We are eager to use our platform to empower Kyrie and many more players willing to leverage their independent influence.”
From an executive input standpoint, Irving sought out leadership roles with the recent partnerships he’s forged. He now meets regularly with teams from both companies as he builds out his position as Chief Community Officer at Kicks Crew and Chief Creative Officer at Anta.
“The most exciting aspect of my expanded role with Anta has been the opportunity to be more hands-on with the creative and strategic processes,” Irving described. “It’s not just about wearing the brand — it’s about being a part of the narrative that shapes it. From product development to marketing strategies, I have a say in how we present our story to the world … It’s about creating a legacy that goes beyond the court.”
Looking ahead, with his first signature Anta launch mere months away, Irving is aiming to build out a partnership that provides access to his footwear and signature products for his long-standing global consumer base.
After signing on with Anta, Irving is now taking things one step further, investing in Kicks Crew to benefit from both the financial, creative, and community upside of their collective business together.
“Their platform’s extensive reach and innovative distribution model mean that we can offer a wider range of products more efficiently to a diverse customer base,” framed Irving. “I’m excited about the potential of this collaboration to enhance the availability and variety of my products for US consumers, bridging gaps and meeting the high demand.”
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