Kappa x Gumball 3000

LOS ANGELES — Kappa and Gumball 3000 capped their multicity tour in Los Angeles, in a place where the car culture runs on high octane.

For the first time, the Italian sportswear firm served as a sponsor of the Gumball 3000, the London-based entertainment group that puts on the annual car tour of the same name, which has also become synonymous with music and other entertainment. The deal also included an exclusive collaboration of Kappa merchandise: a red-and-white collection for Gumball drivers and others affiliated with the rally and black-and-gold pieces sold only at the Kappa x Gumball pop-up shops.

The La Brea Avenue store’s assortment also included a collaboration between U.S. e-Sports group FaZe Clan and Clout Gang, a collective of social media influencers, in addition to separate Gumball 3000 rally merchandise.

The first of the pop-ups launched Aug. 4 in London followed by Milan and then Tokyo. The Los Angeles pop-up, open over the weekend, on La Brea Avenue was the only offering for Stateside fans. It culminated in a luxury car meet-up Sunday afternoon, which ran down La Brea Avenue.

“This final pop-up was just to do something in the U.S. so that Gumball would have a presence here,” said Kappa USA president Dre Hayes.

The stores have been generating revenue, Hayes said, but the thinking behind them is largely marketing.

“Gumball has a loyal following,” he said. “It’s been around for 20 years and it is the number one car rally in the world. It’s to celebrate Gumball. From a pop-up shop standpoint, they can be very effective marketing tools to allow people to get a piece of the action, especially with Gumball not coming here [for the rally].”

Inside the Kappa x Gumball 3000 pop-up on La Brea Avenue.

Inside the Kappa x Gumball 3000 pop-up on La Brea Avenue.  Courtesy Photo

Kappa linked with Wanderset, the online retailer and content site started last year by the founder of e-tailer Karmaloop, to help with the brand partnerships.

Wanderset’s site officially went live in September of last year and is a cross of both commerce and content ranging from fashion to art. In a sense, said Wanderset director of business development Wil Eddins, Wanderset takes the learnings from Karmaloop for an evolved business model, with the Gumball collaborations and pop-ups serving as a good example.

“We took every type of bullet you could take when it comes to e-commerce and not to mention learning how to work alongside the culture,” Eddins said. “At Karmaloop we worked with the best in hip hop from Kid Cudi to Post Malone in the early stages as well as Kendrick Lamar, and we’re doing that again now. We’re good at identifying culture and where it’s going.”

There’s also a firm understanding of the retail business coming out of the Wanderset team utilized in the link with Kappa for its Gumball pop-up series.

“People can look at things online, but we’re still human,” Eddins added. “You need to be able to touch, feel and try on and get other people’s real-time reactions like ‘Oh, that looks great on you’ or ‘What’d you get?’ We’re human; we need that.”

Hayes confirmed the two brands expect to work together again for next year’s rally, giving him plenty of time to prepare — unlike this year, which he said came together rather quickly: “I can’t wait until next year because now I’ve got 10 months worth of time to plan.”