December 16, 2008

The new UNDRCRWN x Adidas sneakers dropped earlier this week, a mini collection that’s essentially a footwear homage to winning, in three parts. The label has admittedly been making champion-shaped holes in the game since its inception, sitting as it does at the very intersection of basketball and style. We’ve had our eye on them since those Biggie tees came out and recently had a chance to talk to Dustin Canalin and Bryon Sheng, the creative minds behind UNDRCRWN, about the new collaboration, as well as some archival favorites.

So tell us about the inspiration for the new sneakers. The green TS Commander is our favorite.

Dustin Canalin: When Adidas approached us to do this, they told us about the Commander Creator Series and that we’d be doing three shoes. So we wanted to take three shoes and build a small collection, kind of based off our Holiday ’08 collection, which has a champion theme. That actual feeling of winning is what we’re going for. So we took three different approaches on winning.

Different types of winning?

DC: Yeah, or different forms of winning. Like the first approach is all things aspirational—taking the luxury goods, the trophy wife and fancy car and building the whole motif in to the Commander with the luxury details.

What is it that attracted you to basketball in the first place? Was it the style or the sport element?

Brian Sheng: I would say we view basketball as a lifestyle because we see it as more than just a sport. Basketball expands to hip hop, expands to the shoe game with these sneakers, video games, the way it influences in terms of style and it’s a part of who we are, the era that we grew up in.

Basketball players do a lot better style-wise on the court then they do off the court. Who do you think has nailed it across the board when it comes to style?

DC: None of ‘em. That’s why we created our brand, that’s why we’re here.

BS: I always had to kind of see that from the ground level and people just have terrible style. Because you’re an athlete and people like the way you play doesn’t mean that you have any sense of individuality when it comes to what you wear. I think what we’re doing is bridging the gap between fashion and making it comfortable for people who understand basketball to wear clothes. Like our consumers go from the dudes that play every single day to the 55 year old guy that goes to the game once a week with his kid. Basketball is already our blood and we don’t even have to really talk about it. It’s just the styling, the history and the culture that oozes out the garments.

Can you talk for some of the pieces that have been really popular?

DC: I think from the get go we knew that the caricature thing would be our bread and butter. Like that’s what we did with Tupac, and I think that, I knew they were going to be big—every single one has been extremely popular. When I saw Obama on CNN talking about how much he loved the game and how much he plays every day, it was like he’s just like us.

Where did that idea for the basketball chair come from?

DC: Well, I love furniture and just trying to take some classic, iconic pieces and just mix them with our brand. Like the Barcelona chair is one of my favorite pieces.. People that don’t like furniture or design or know that Mies van der Rohe is a designer know that chair now because we put basketball leather on it.

Did you make it with the intention of selling it? Was it a personal project to begin with?

DC: They all kind of start as personal projects.

BS: Yeah, we just wanted to decorate Dus’ house first before it went out.

DC: One of our partners was living in Asia at the time and was like we can make anything. And we just sat brainstormed, like what would be the one thing that would symbolize our brand? So the chair was the ultimate symbol.

Posted: December 16, 2008