New Balance has a new collaboration on the way with entrepreneur and Klutch Sports founder Rich Paul.
Paul, who represents a number of athletes including longtime friend LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers teammate Anthony Davis, as well as the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green and the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons, had been working with New Balance on this 550 collaboration silhouette before the pandemic caused it to be delayed.
“I was excited that they even felt the want to continue, Paul said. “I’m really looking forward to the launch.”
The collaboration sneaker launching on Dec. 10 has a cream base and hues of blue included as a way to inspire kids that their dreams can come true. The leather nods to Paul’s connection to basketball. Paul and New Balance also produced an accompanying apparel collection comprised of a tracksuit and basketball shorts in cream and navy among other pieces. The special 550 sneaker will retail for $140.
The Klutch Sports founder has a deep connection to the 550 sneaker. He regards the silhouette as a big piece of the late 1980s and early 1990s, a time period that greatly molded Paul. He also mentioned that the shoe was a favorite of his uncle and Paul mimicked how he would lace his 550s the same way.
“I’ve always been a sneakerhead,” Paul said. “I was the kid in my neighborhood that had every shoe. I played in new shoes and would switch at halftime — if a new shoe came out, the kids knew I probably got it. When New Balance approached me about this collab it was a hard thing to say no to.”
New Balance has a long roster of athletes, predominantly led by Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard and fashion collaborators Aime Leon Dore, Joe Freshgoods and Casablanca, but collaborating with a sports agent, even one with Paul’s cache, is unexpected.
But brands have long partnered with unexpected collaborators — K-Swiss for a period connected with Gary Vaynerchuk of VaynerX and VaynerMedia.
“Anyone who knows me knows my affinity for fashion,” Paul said. “My focus will remain the same representing athletes but at the same time you can’t allow yourself to be kept in a box. You need to expand on your abilities while remaining focused on your day job.”
Paul also wanted to use this as an opportunity to inspire the youth and show them that all of their dreams are possible. The partners plan to hold community events to meet with kids.
“This was something that was much bigger than me — impacting the youth and really allowing them to find their balance in life,” he said.