Pop star Jason Derulo ruined a pair of LVL XIII sneakers before investing in the brand.
He wore the trainers during a “Good Morning America” performance, and because of his intense and intricate dance moves, the samples were no longer wearable.
“I gave the shoes back to my stylist and I said, ‘This might be a little bit of a problem,’” said Derulo, who spoke at WWD’s Men’s Wear Summit earlier this month in Brooklyn with Antonio Brown, who founded LVL XIII in 2013.
This problem turned into a partnership. Derulo met with Brown, they hit it off and the singer decided to invest in the men’s wear line.
While Derulo is an ambassador for LVL XIII, he made it clear that he’s not interested in being bigger than the brand.
“I want this to be something that can sustain without me,” said Derulo. “I don’t want to have to force anything down anyone’s throat ever.”
Brown and Derulo believe that celebrity fashion brands have evolved, and because Millennial shoppers can easily sniff out inauthenticity, it’s important that these collaborations are executed in a meaningful way.
“It’s organic, which I think is so important,” said Brown, who added that he works closely with Derulo on the line. “So many times you go on social media channels and you see paid advertising and paid promotions and it seems like you are forcing people to buy things. It has to be authentic.”
Along with an honest brand message, Brown and Derulo are focused on producing clothes and sneakers that can easily transition from the street to the office and have an added value. The line, which Brown describes as the future of luxury, features a jacket that can transform into a backpack. Each pair of sneakers comes with a casing system that’s made out of memory foam.
“I remember when I would go out and buy product and you had value. You felt good about buying things,” said Brown. “Now it’s not happening anymore. It’s, ‘Let’s sell as much as we can sell and let’s try to convince them to buy as much as they can buy.’”
LVL XIII apparel will be sold exclusively at Bloomingdale’s this fall and even as retail falters, Brown believes a presence in brick-and-mortar shops is still important.
“I don’t believe retail is dead,” said Brown. “I believe that it’s about providing opportunity and creating an experience for consumers. I feel like unfortunately retail, especially luxury retail, followed this elitist mentality going into business and I believe that now it has hindered them.”
Derulo has no plans on slapping his name or face on the apparel or sneakers, but he is using his fame to help promote the brand. For his newest video, “Swalla,” which features Nicki Minaj, Derulo introduced new pieces from the line and he plans on holding pop-ups based on his tour schedule that will sell LVL XIII, butt he’s taking things slow.
“To me, I definitely don’t want it to oversaturate the market,” said Derulo. “I think that’s something that a lot of brands make a mistake doing. They do a quick push and get it everywhere. We would like to make the brand exclusive.”