BrandBlack Discusses The New Rare Metal, The Basketball Shoe For All Five Positions

BrandBlack Discusses The New Rare Metal, The Basketball Shoe For All Five Positions

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The new basketball season is here, and Brandblack is back to impress on and off the court once again. The hoops performance brand that seamlessly melds performance and style introduces their next creation, the Rare Metal. Designed to be the most versatile and fashion-forward sneaker on the court, the Rare Metal is suitable for any player on today’s basketball court thanks to its innovative yet minimal design. We recently spoke to Brandblack’s founder David Raysse and Creative Director Billy Dill to detail their latest hoops shoe. They also discuss what the future holds for one of the most intriguing athletic footwear brands in the industry.

For the full interview, read on below. The BrandBlack Rare Metal is available today on BrandBlack.com, Finish Line, and Dick’s Sporting Goods, with other select retailers dropping them later this month.

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Sneaker News: The brand has been around for a few years now. For those that are unaware, how did you guys connect to bring Brandblack to life?

Billy Dill: I was working on a different footwear project a while back with an old friend of mine and he ended up leaving the project and David became the designer for the project. From there we just stayed in contact over the years. So when David came up with the idea of starting Brandblack as a new performance sports brand, he came to me to see if would be something I’d want to work on. I looked closer at the convergence of fashion and sports at the time and realized there was something coming on pretty big. I saw that fashion and sport was definitely merging and it seemed like an interesting idea so that’s where it all began.

SN: What was it like starting the brand with David?

Billy Dill: David has a really solid vision. He’s really good at what he does. He’s super intense. He’s super detailed and I dig that. We can both nerd out on design details and we definitely have different influences and come from different places, but when it comes to design, we speak the same language so that part of it was really easy. We work well together and we challenge each other on a lot of things. He’ll come at it from a sports design footwear background and a lot of times I’ll come at it from a style perspective.

SN: We’ve seen a lot of great stuff from Brandblack over the last couple years, but really over the last year we’re seen an improvement in the design language with some really clean designs. In your mind, what is the state of Brandblack?

David Raysse: It takes a while to figure out what it is that you are and how to execute it. You have an idea and you start down that path, but then you arrive at new ideas and things work and you gain new perspective as you go in that direction. Where we are now from where we started is radically different. The spirit is the same, but the product is finally reflective of what we originally set out to do which is was to have a brand that’s a perfect balance between design, fashion and performance.

Billy Dill: We started from scratch with a REALLY big idea. You’re going into a market where there are some extremely organized and well-funded brands that have been doing it for a while, so when you come into something like that it an be overwhelming. As we started to get our footing and realize what we’re best at and what we really want to achieve, we realized it’s best to be authentic and have our own voice and to just follow our guts with design, product and direction and not do what everyone expects you to do. We’re the exception to the expected. It’s so easy to just be yourself. We’re not trying to follow anyone else or out-basketball another brand or out-sport another brand. We’re just trying to make the very best products that we can at the highest level for everyone to enjoy.

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SN: It seems a lot of people love your brand aesthetic. How do you explain the aesthetic you guys have?

David: We’re focused on design, beauty, simplicity, and seamlessness. We create shoes to elevate the things that you get to have around you. We just do things different. We’re always evolving and getting better. You’ll see the evolution of the brand more as we get into 2017. Where we’re heading is very simplistic and refined in a way that we’re proud of.

Billy: We bring a human touch to product. We’re injecting a human element into high design. We’re using really innovative materials and designs and pushing the envelope. We’re designing shoes with personality and warmth that have a human element. We’re a small team. It’s not this huge corporation. We have a lot of heart and soul. We work our asses off and we make products that we believe in. It’s a labor of love.

David: Also, our brand aesthetic is getting more poignant and evolved. You’ll get the first taste of it in Spring 2017 with our new color palette and new product and in Fall 2017 it’s going to be quite radical. We try to be minimal. We’re futurists. We’re minimalists and we don’t like to add unnecessary elements to our shoes. We’re going in a different direction than most brands in the industry. I think the palette is how we differentiate from other brands. When you see some muted mauves and greyish blues and monochromatic product you get the sense that we are a different type of brand.

SN: The Rare Metals are releasing now. What was the vision for that shoe?

David: When we started out, we wanted to build a great basketball shoe. When we were brainstorming for the Rare Metals, we were trying to build the most simple, functional, basketball shoe that we could. It was predicated around how the game has changed and how players have changed. What used to be considered a skill position is really almost all five players on the court. Every guy can slash. Every guy is quick and explosive. This shoe is for the player that is constantly moving, crossing over and slashing so we wanted to build a shoe that spoke to that. That’s why it has the radical new shape. I call it a hybrid cut. It’s a low in the back then a mid at the apex. We made it out of the super strong jacquard knit. We have a new technology, the Jet Foam Plus that is 40% more cushioned than EVA. It allowed us to drop the shoe 25% lower to the ground without compromising any of the cushioning. That’s what led to the design of the shoe.

Billy: The Rare Metals were built around specifications for elite basketball players. We really honed in on details around what makes a really good basketball shoe. We listen closely to the people that weartest our shoes. We took that feedback and made the best possible product. A rare metal is better than gold. It’s harder to find. It has all of these miraculous properties and that’s what the future player who plays in our shoes should be. It’s unique, has qualities that are super superior, you don’t find it everywhere, you have to hunt for it and it’s valuable.

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SN: How did the pattern on the upper come about?

David: The jacquard knit can be decorated almost any way you want. The key to the jacquard is the tightness and materials you use to build it out of. We thought about the pattern and we wanted something that was very different than what our competitors would do. All of the knit shoes are starting to look the same. We also believe in Wabi-sabi, the Japanese philosophy of there being a natural element of something being a little bit off or imperfect. So, the upper pattern actually came from the camouflage of a moth’s wing.

Billy: We’re all really design nerds and we’re also huge fans of military design when it comes to construction and details. We love camouflage. We’re all geeked out on camouflage. I brought a close up of a moth wing and said to David “Don’t you think this would be an ill camo?” and he just went bananas. He loved the idea. He took it and made it into a camouflage pattern and made the jacquard knit out of it just to see what it would look like and once we saw it we gravitated toward it. We thought it was really cool. It’s something unique and you’ve never seen before.

SN: Why the moth inspiration?

David: We really appreciated the beauty and the nature of it. It reads like camouflage but it’s a natural thing. It has a function in the natural world but we like the juxtaposition of it on a hyper technical basketball shoe. Bringing in that natural element and something that’s unexpected and not so mechanical felt right.

Billy: For me it represents a transformation. This shoe is the transformation of us growing into a larger brand, a better brand and we’re constantly evolving. In terms of the product, everything is speaking one language now. This shoe is the start of a transformation for us and it will evolve us into the next season of product.

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SN: Can you touch on some of the other design elements on the Rare Metals?

David: The design of the Rare Metals is a result of looking at how a player moves, someone that going to be slashing and cutting. The lateral heel is going to be taking a lot of pressure and you’re going to be toeing off. So if you look at the shoe, the color pop is on the medial toe and lateral heel. We really wanted a shoe that is kinetic and when you see someone moving in it and playing in it on the court, it’s very drastic. We’re connecting those three key parts of the shoe. We colored up the sole, medial toe and lateral heel in a very honest way. It looks really dramatic when you see guys playing in it. I feel this is the best shoe we’ve ever built.

SN: How do you think this shoe will transition off the court?

David: There was a time when whether it be Jordans, Iversons or Pumps that you could play in your shoes and they performed at a high level and then you could wear them off the court and they still looked cool. That was the nexus of building Brandblack from the beginning. We build basketball shoes because I genuinely care about the game and I love it and want to build the best performance shoe out there that also look good and are fashionable off the court. That’s my philosophy when it comes to sneakers.

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SN: What can we expect to see from you guys in 2017?

David: The two most interesting shoes are the Gambetto which is kind of a hybrid sneaker, lifestyle type of sneaker but really innovative and crazy looking and I think it’s going to solidify the notion of us being 100% focused on design and then another shoe called the Gamma which comes right after it is an all knew knit construction. It’s a fully circular knit which means it’s knit all the way around the shoe on the bottom as well. It’s incredibly innovative. I would have liked to have it earlier to market but they actually have to dial in brand new machines that have never been used before so it’s taken them some time to commercialize. Those two shoes are radically new and different and I think people will understand what we mean by being design driven when they see those two products.

Billy: We’re always excited about our product, but this next season that we’re going to show is. It’s the first time I’ve seen the apparel and footwear all sing the same song and hit the level of design and quality. I think it’s by far the best collection we’ve ever done. We’re super excited to show it.

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