The ‘I Can Play’ Movement
SLAMonline checks in with PEAK execs.
by Chris Cason / @C4DUNK
This year’s All-Star weekend was major for the various parties included. For the sportswear brand PEAK, it was a chance to officially launch their product to the masses and with three athletes taking part in the festivities (Dorell Wright, Kevin Love and JaVale McGee), they would become the first Chinese sports performance brand to appear during the annual midseason classic.
Next to the launch, the brand would get its biggest endorsement from McGee who — aside from his ridiculous display of aerial and length — made sure that the brand also took center stage during the marquee event by switching eye-catching color variations of the PEAK “Relentless” shoe after each round.
To further discuss the exciting new times at PEAK, SLAM sat down with Brand Director Kenny Carroll and COO Grant Zhou just weeks after the launch on Feb. 17 to gain new info about what went behind that weekend in Los Angeles — which is also where the US headquarters are located — and what’s in store for the continually innovative brand.
SLAM: Next to the playoffs, All-Star weekend is the event that draws vast amount of attention but what were some reasons that went behind PEAK wanting to launch at that time?
Zhou: We thought it was a good time because we set up our office in the middle of last year. We studied the market and we designed our product. You take time to design and develop and find the right partners and target also the right people and players to represent us. With L.A. hosting the All-Star game, everybody coming, all the media and all the players coming; it was a good time for us. So we felt that All-Star was the right opportunity to launch our brand.
SLAM: The home office is located in Los Angeles. What are some of the responsibilities of that office?
Zhou: Mostly design, player relations also, how to trend to the US market. Coming up with new innovations and designs, that’s the main thing that we’re focusing on right now.
SLAM: PEAK has a longer history than most realize and a lot of success in China as well as internationally. What are some of the steps you’re looking to take to assure that success happens here?
Carroll: We really feel like we want to be a validated performance brand in the United States. It’s our goal, our mission to build innovative product that are for athletes across many disciplines. We think that as a US consumer, they have a lot of choices. We feel like with what we established — which is basketball being our heritage and really our foundation — with all the incredible feats that have been happening on the court, it should translate that we can build a very quality product here in the US.
SLAM: With basketball being the heritage and the foundation, do you want that to remain the central focus or expand to different categories?
Carroll: We are a true platform sports brand. So as other companies look at other sports to be in their key hubs, basketball is our main passion so that’s where we are going to realize a lot of the innovation. We’re going to allow that to transcend to other categories so we’re not limited to basketball by any means. Basketball is our root and foundation, but we’re going to look at running, training and all sports categories and we’re going to be a strong player in those categories.
SLAM: You currently have 15 players on the roster and plans to expand that number over the next couple of years, how do you decide what player is right for the brand?
Zhou: I think you just try and find a partner instead of just an endorser. There are no requirements or job descriptions. We signified what we had with Shane Battier as our first endorser. He truly loves being part of PEAK and he wanted to represent us in the United States. He loved being part of the process of growing and having his own shoe. It’s hard to put into words really, but we feel great that so many players see us as an up and coming brand, having the potential to grow and they want to work with us.
SLAM: With the guys I’ve talked to this season, they’ve had nothing but great things to say about, not only the product, but the relationship that is formed with the brand. What type of feedback do you get from the athletes?
Carroll: It was fantastic for me, being fairly new to the brand, to hear JaVale McGee go on and on about how good the shoes feel better than the Nike’s he’s worn. I can tell you, to hear that from a guy who’s definitely open about the brand, excited to be part of the brand but he had no real notion than to be blatantly honest with the conversations we were having. He loved the comfort, he loved the feel and he’s looking forward to more incredible looks that we’re going to bring to the court. That’s been my personal story.
Zhou: Different people have different opinions about different shoes. There are lots of people that don’t like Nike and there are lots of people that, maybe won’t like PEAK. The athletes that wear our products feel very comfortable and give very positive feedback. They like the cushioned feel. The first time Kevin Love wore our shoe, he had the 31-31 game. JaVale loved the shoes a lot. Rasual Butler told me he feels like he’s standing on pillows. They are very cushioned, very comfortable so we feel very pleased that our athletes view our products as a superior product and they love the products help the performance of their games.