In my season preview post, one of the things I mention being excited about is the new Nike jerseys. Now we have all seen the new jerseys. They are hard to miss, with ads everywhere in the city featuring them! Nike has really taken a new approach to the jersey and to the idea of integrating the NBA into many of the things they already do.
First lets talk about the tech.
The new Nike jerseys (authentics and swingman) both work with the new Nike Connect app. You can scan your jersey to unlock local content, team content and player content (all cool) but there are other things you can unlock too! Like if you scan your jersey at a game you might get upgraded. Or if you have a DeRozan jersey you might get early access to sneakers. Like a pair of DeRozan Kobes? (this is totally unconfirmed and just something I have been thinking about. Please don’t start this rumour!). You can also scan your friends jerseys to access other content/opportunities. The other cool thing is the NBA2K18 content. I don’t play but the jersey is completely connected to the game experience. The jersey is essentially like a passport for all things NBA.
Next lets talk about the lifestyle.
In the past, jerseys have been worn mostly to games and a little bit as streetwear (mostly only the throwbacks). When Nike was announced as winning the NBA jersey contract, I read commentary from industry people talking about how this will do nothing for the brand. That jerseys are not a marketing tool beyond the game. Well… I am pretty sure that is not the case any more. Nike has gone all in on the NBA and on the jerseys. The team logos/NBA logos are already part of really strong collabs (Tisci) and we are only 3 days into the season!
The jerseys themselves have been part of a huge marketing campaign using all the people and programs Nike already has going on in Toronto – various running programs, artists, musicians, designers, sneakerheads. All these people are getting hyped about the jersey and about the team itself.
This week I got to go to the NikexNBA launch event at House of Hoops. I have been to a few events like this now, but this one was a standout. First of all the gear is so good. I’m glad I didn’t bring my wallet because I want the jacket, a custom t, the shooting hoodie and at least one jersey. Plus the AF1 Raptors from NikeID. The store was completely redone with memorabilia displayed everywhere.
The custom station at the back (only there for a few weeks so get in there asap) has really good options that are so Toronto specific they could only have been developed by someone who is from here and cares about the city. We got there right as the event started and stayed way longer than we expected – the game was on, there was lots of candy and the crowd was amazing.
But the actual, best, highlight for me was Thursday morning. I was lucky enough to be one of 50 people selected to make a bespoke Nike Raptors jersey. This is happening in only a few cities for a few people and I can’t believe I am one of them. I actually feel guilty because it was Laize (@laizey_bones) who really got me into basketball and I wish she could have one too. In Toronto, the options for the bespoke jersey focused on the number and the name. We could choose from one of about 10 different materials including nubuck, satin, suede and leather. Then we got to pick the stitching colour to go with it.
As a huge Air Max 1 fan, I have done a lot of research on bespoke options in case I ever make an appointment for my own custom AM1. Luckily this process was a little less customizable, or I would have been there for HOURS. The space was really cool, at the back of the House of Hoops in a specialized room with pics of the jerseys and art installations – all this just for 50 people! We talked a lot about the differences between the Authentic and the Swingman. The Authentic is definitely a performance jersey, cut and designed for athletes made of a material designed not to gain weight throughout a game. The Swingman is cut more for regular people and made of Dri-Fit – amazing fabric but not quite as lightweight as the Authentic.
The jersey was’t ready right away so I had to wait a day before I could actually see it in my hands. I chose to use white snakeskin on the number 23 (for MJ and for @laizey_bones birthday) with black contrast stitching. Then black stingray on the “HardieGirl” lettering with white contrast stitching. Honestly this jersey experience is a dream come true. Probably the coolest thing I have ever had the opportunity to be part of. I am obsessed with my jersey!
I also got a pair of the Nike x NBA AF1s in black – such a great sneaker. The laces really make it special. The AF1 is such a good canvas for doing interesting things even in monochrome. I love that they are central to the Nike x NBA program even though I have never been a huge AF1 super fan.
So, that was a really long post! I guess you can tell that I am passionate about this partnership. I mean, its basketball + sneakers; my two favourite things. How can I not be passionate? So looking forward to everything to come from Nike x NBA.
Thanks to @niketoronto and @footlockercanada for taking such great care of me this week (and always)