by Lang Whitaker

So I just got back from a party for my main man Stephon Marbury, who’s launching a new line of shoes and clothes. The joint was packed, celebrities were stalking the red carpet, and everyone was there to celebrate a pair of cheap shoes.

See, the thing about Steph’s line is that it’s all very cheap — the most expensive item in the entire line are the shoes, the same shoes he’ll wear in games this season, which will cost $14.98 retail. Then there’s a ton of shirts, hoodies, leather jackets, jeans…all kinds of stuff, which will all cost — get this — $9.98. (You can see all the gear here.)

The party was at the store that put this whole thing together, Steve and Barry’s, a discount sportswear chain with a flagship store in the Manhattan Mall (where the party was) and 130 stores around the U.S.

I talked to Steph about all this stuff a few months ago and wrote an article about it in the new issue of KICKS (on newsstands soon!), and I’ll put the audio from that conversation up here in a day or so.

I’d never even heard of Steve and Barry’s when I first talked to Steph about all this, but after seeing the store and seeing how the stuff they carry is actually quality stuff and then wearing some of their gear, I just couldn’t figure out how they pulled it off. How can a pair of shorts that would easily cost $40 anywhere else sell for $9? And how can the store make a profit on that?

At the party tonight I cornered Steve, the co-owner, and he said it wasn’t easy, but it’s mostly about volume and keeping their overhead costs low. They really believe that kids shouldn’t have to pay the prices that a lot of the name brands charge for clothes, which he said includes a sizable mark-up. He also said the idea for the whole line was actually Steph’s, and that they knew someone who introduced them to Steph and helped it all happen. Steph really wasn’t trying to get paid by doing this, he was just trying to do something different.

I saw Steph tonight and talked to him briefly, and he was very proud that the whole thing was coming together. As he told me a few weeks ago…

“This whole idea is really about trying to change the way how people are being charged for something that’s being priced up 1000 percent. It’s not basketball with me with this — basketball is just something that I do. What I’m doing is I’m trying to create something that could be substantial throughout the years of just living. This is just a product of something that I do. For everyone that’s out in the world that will get in line to buy this stuff, they can feel good about themselves when they’re wearing stuff that’s quote-unquote cheap that’s not cool. Now it’s going to be cool to wear something cheap because you can really get something out of it.”

Steph also said he remembered being a kid, being poor, and he wanted to give kids an alternative to spending all their money on clothes and shoes.

I know Steph gets ripped on a lot and takes a lot of crap, and some of it is probably deserved. And you guys know I like Steph, and I always will be a fan of his.

And with this whole line, even if you’re not a fan of Steph’s, I think this is something you can at least appreciate.