SLAM/Counter Kicks Move Forward

by January 12, 2010

by Chris O’Leary / @olearychris

Although the site is only a few months old, Counter Kicks is making waves in the online sneaker community. Launched this past fall, the site is well on the road to becoming a key source of info and insight into an animal that’s evolving multiple times a day, every day. Run by a guy with one of the coolest names out there in John Brilliant, Counter Kicks will be partnering with SLAMonline in what we think will amp up the experience of how the visitors of both sites get their sneaker fixes.

What this will mean for SLAMonline readers is a steady flow of sneaker news that’s easily accessible from Counter Kicks via this site. While CK is in its infancy, Brilliant is far from a rookie to the industry. A moderator at Niketalk, Brilliant has been a pioneer in the online sneaker community’s growth. Above all else, the passion that SLAM readers feel for hoops is shared by Brilliant and the people he works with at Counter Kicks. We think that will shine through as we progress with this pairing. For those of you unfamiliar with Counter Kicks, check the site out. Then come back and get the story on John Brilliant’s experience in the sneaker industry. Or do it the other way around. It’s up to you, really.


SLAM: Talk about your website. What were your goals with the site when you started it?
John Brilliant: We launched Counter Kicks in the fall of 2009, tinged with a spy/counter-intelligence theme as depicted by our fedora-wearing, sunglasses-cloaked “Suitman” logo. The character in a nutshell represents our ability to access inside information and output distinctive viewpoints covering the footwear industry.

I personally bring to the table more than 10 years worth of footwear industry contacts and relationships that allows us to consistently and immediately access exclusive sneaker content on a frequent basis and provide that intelligence to our readers. There’s a variety of sneaker-based sites out there that cover the daily info dumps, but nothing at the time we launched that consistently generated in-depth, exclusive content directly for the online sneaker consumer the way we’re producing it. Our goals have been to keep the reader informed of this industry’s daily events and product drops, but more importantly, providing a steady platform to reveal the workings and mechanics behind those events and products that you won’t find anywhere else.

SLAM: How do you think Counter Kicks sets itself apart from other sneaker sites?
JB: Authentic content saturated with a consistent layer of exclusive sneaker news, packaged in an authoritative way. We place a very high priority on a regular base of original articles and series’ whether it be our “Sneaker Ingredients” features, numerous industry interviews, or even pieces as quirky as our footwear market reports which absolutely no one else in the immediate “sneakerhead” scene covers.

When people access Counter Kicks for the first time, I frequently hear a lot of feedback about how impressed they are by the original content and it becomes sort of a night-and-day situation in comparison to other sneaker sites based on those pieces alone. One person in particular recently told me that the articles are always top shelf and more consistent with “magazine material” rather than your usual blog-styled items you see elsewhere. That’s something we’re proud to provide and remain committed to continually raising the bar for this industry.

SLAM: You’ve gotten some prominent pub in your time with the site. What are some of the places you’ve been featured?
JB: Definitely. We’re constantly picking up new readers to Counter Kicks and attracting the attention of different media outlets because of the content. The most recent example is our currently featured article on the front page of New Balance’s website for an exclusive interview we did with the lifestyle product manager at the company. As for myself, I was personally interviewed by Forbes Magazine for their current issue regarding my thoughts on the present-day sneaker collecting market. Other media and journalists have been in recent contact for future stories and I’m always open to providing a window into what we’re doing.

SLAM: Talk about your involvement with Niketalk. What do you think Niketalk did for the online sneaker community?
JB: A tremendous advantage and large part of my success and the success of our sneaker sites has been the fact that I can quickly access and pull down footwear industry relationships from over a decade back now. I got involved in the online sneaker scene during the mid to late 1990s which was really the incubation period for this arena we all live and breathe in where there were strings of personal fan pages and early-era forums such as Nike Park that a small-knit group of sneaker enthusiasts congregated around. Eventually, the time came that a moderated community discussion for sneakers was necessary and so NikeTalk was born on December 10, 1999.

For several years afterward, it was essentially the only place where advance sneaker news and info was broken and still continues to this day. One of our biggest mainstream breakthroughs early on was actually a mention in one of the initial annual issues of SLAM’s KICKS magazine by former editor-in-chief Russ Bengtson for leaking the first images online of the Air Jordan XVI. We’ve picked up a steady stream of new visitors over the years since then, culminating into a base of over 80,000 registered members today. NikeTalk just celebrated its 10 year anniversary this past December and has provided a reliable stage for sneakerheads to meet up and discuss any sneaker from any brand (NikeTALK is not just for Nike heads, nor do we have any affiliation with Nike, Inc.) in an honest and sometimes critical way, which continually aides to the authenticity of the forum. Aside from creating that space, the NikeTalk community is probably most proud about our regular contributions to charities and non-profits from the revenue the site generates which has totaled over $100,000 worth of donations to date.

SLAM: How would you describe the SLAM/Counter Kicks partnership? What possibilities do you think can come from this?
JB: With over a decade’s worth of deep footwear industry contacts on file, an extraordinarily talented team, an endless drive for authentic and imaginative content, and the accumulated knowledge and vision to package all of these individual components into unique content platforms, I would describe the SLAM/Counter Kicks partnership as a next generation arrangement for the sneaker industry with what I have planned going into the future.

Our readers can follow us on Facebook and Twitter and look forward to an endless stream of major exclusive interviews in the weeks and months ahead, a stockpile of sneaker giveaways, the ramping up of our original content and coverage, and more websites fully integrated into the product mix such as Project Bluefoot which is the only global footwear design competition that partners up world-class brands with tomorrow’s design leaders and additional sites I’m currently developing – one of which will be the most ambitious sneaker concept site done to date. All of the support we have received so far from our readership is incredibly appreciated and we look forward to seeing many more (readers) come on board this year. Thanks.