NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal seems determined to get the last laugh in regards to his much maligned sneaker brand.
It was recently announced that Shaq’s Dunkman brand signed a deal with Authentic Brands Group, (who also make Juicy Couture, Aerowalk and Aeropostale) who will bring the shoe to several department stores across the country.
Premiering way back in 2004 as a cheaper alternative to high-priced kicks on the market, Shaq’s shoes sold at Payless Shoes for $40 and under. The brand was popular with the middle school and younger demo and people who just wanted sneakers to wear without concern for style. The brand has focused on knock-off looks ever since its market introduction, sometime shamelessly recreating already popular looks with no concern for originality. That said, it filled a niche (O’Neal has bragged that he’s sold upwards of 120 million shoes) and now with this new deal will continue to do so.
This isn’t Shaq’s first relaunch of the Dunkman brand. In 2012, he returned with a Dunkman rebrand that was sold at several retailers including JCPenney, Academy, Big 5 Sporting Goods and Shoe Show,.
The ABG deal will likely increase the brands visibility and add more credibility to the products. O’Neal of course brought the brand initial market esteem, but a injection of new ideas and some original styling should help inject energy into the brand. In addition to basketball, they will also create shoes for lifestyle and fitness in men’s, women’s, and children sizes.
One interesting thing revealed in the deal is an increase in the price point. Though the Dunkman brand will still have shoes in the $40 dollar range, there will also be releases selling for as much as $99, which seems counterintuitive to the brand’s original ethos. Even if the brand totally retreats from knock-offs, it will be interesting if there is a market for a Dunkman shoe selling at competitive prices. Common wisdom says no, but the brand has survived this long being underestimated, so it might be worthy to consider that they know their consumer pretty well.
If you can’t wait until Spring ’18 for new Shaq shoes, Target has a few things worth checking out such as these.