Starting a basketball team is easy: Get five players and you’re good to go. Starting a roster of endorsees for a sock company? Not so easy. You need players who can grab attention, who inspire others to act how they act and, more importantly, dress how they dress. This was the challenge Stance faced upon diving into the basketball world, and they’ve done a pretty damn good job putting a group together.
The sock company chose a solid starting point: Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade has been catching fans’ eyes on the court with his uptempo, flashy game and off the court with his slick, classy and, uhh, flashy style for years. Wade’s been a member of the Stance team since (almost) as long as the Stance team as a whole has existed, and he’s been an integral part of the brand’s growth in just about every sense imaginable, including his own casual sock line.
In 2014, Stance signed Pistons big man Andre Drummond and Mavs swingman Chandler Parsons—the first two NBAers to join the brand’s “Punks and Poets,” the group of celebrities who rep the company—giving each a line of Stance Fusion performance socks. Marketed as the “Battle of the Birds,” both guys were given a bird-inspired line of socks, Parsons’ with flamingos (nodding to his Floridian upbringing) and Drummond’s with penguins (nodding to his cold-weather New York upbringing and lack of fear).
“I’ve always thought a great pair of socks finishes an outfit,” Parsons says. “I came across Stance and had my agency reach out. I ended up getting the first Stance Hoops signature line, and they are the best socks on the planet.”
Next Stance added Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson, an upstart who could in many ways be compared to the sock company itself. Not that long ago, Thompson was, like Stance, simply a young, up-and-coming entity; just a couple years later Thompson has now established himself as a legitimate star in his own right. Klay made the All-Star Game in 2015, averaging 21.7 points and 3.1 threes per game over the course of the season, all while becoming an integral part of the World Champion Warriors—to say nothing of the endorsement deals he signed with sneaker company ANTA, sports drink company BODYARMOR and wearable-tech maker ShotTracker. In the process, Thompson was the face of Stance’s NBA on-court launch.
“You have to sign with brands you believe in and are passionate about—that’s what makes for a great relationship,” Thompson says. “[Stance’s] creativity is on another level. They’ve kind of changed the sock game, and their socks are so comfortable, too. The partnership with the League is going to be special as well. So just to have them want me gave me a huge confidence boost. I felt like we could build something great because I love to hoop, and every hooper needs good socks. I run and shoot for a living, so I have to take care of my feet.”
Every group needs a quality vet, so Stance went out and snatched up a true OG in the world of NBA style—retired Philadelphia 76ers legend Allen Iverson, the man who years ago singlehandedly pushed then-Commissioner David Stern to rewrite the guidelines of how players could dress on the sidelines of NBA tilts. AI will soon have his own casual sock line, years after he laced up official NBA socks—which he says he loved even before his NBA days. “You get some NBA socks and you aren’t in the NBA?” AI laughs. “[Then] you doing something.”
Rounding out the group is the brand’s most recent NBA signee, 2015-16 MVP candidate and all-around superstar James Harden. The Beard evolved into full-on luminary over the past year; in 2014-15 he averaged 27.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg and 4.7 apg while leading the Rockets into the Western Conference Finals and utilizing both his sick handles and ever-flowing facial hair to become a marketer’s dream (word to his partnerships with adidas, Foot Locker, BBVA, BODYARMOR, New Era KT Tape and others).
It’s a solid squad—DWade as the metaphoric coach, AI as the legend, and Parsons, Drummond, Thompson and Harden rounding out the unit.
“We could not be more thrilled with our current group of basketball Punks and Poets,” says Stance’s Basketball Category Director Tzvi Twersky. “They’re all high-caliber players; they’re all exceptional people; and they all have personalities and interests that align with our brand. It’s been awesome to see the roster quickly evolve from one guy to a team that we’d put up against anybody—on and off the court.”