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Consumers Were The All-Stars At Nike’s Makers Of The Game HQ

By John Kim

All-Star Weekend is like Disney Land for basketball and sneaker fans. It’s where the cream of the NBA crop convenes once a year, attracting droves of fans from across the globe to participate in experiences tailored specifically to consumers. With the added attention around the game, All-Star Weekend is unquestionably the most culturally relevant mainstream event; brands plans for months, even years, to strategize and execute a plan that best relays a unifying message across their athletes and the products. The result is an influx of social media engagement, lasting memories, and a taste of what’s to come moving forward.
This past weekend, Nike presented “Makers Of The Game”, a celebration of the individuals who play key roles in building and continuing the culture around the game of basketball. A physical space called the Maker’s HQ was erected at 555 Mateo St. at the heart of LA’s art district. By way of online registrations through Nike.com/LA, consumers were presented with several opportunities to interact with today’s most popular and influential athletes such as Kobe Bryant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Draymond Green, Elena Delle Donne, John Elliott, Edison Chen, and Kendrick Lamar. Additionally, exclusive product was released to those who signed up for a spot in the store.
Nike invited us to LA to become “Makers” for a weekend. Here’s a first-hand look at what we experienced.

One of the key attractions of the space was a large red container with the remixed Nike “Damn” logo. A nod to LA’s significance to the global infrastructure of shipping across oceans, this giant box acted as the surprise release location for the Cortez Kenny II that dropped exclusively at the Maker’s HQ via Nike SNKRS Pass on Friday the 16th. This release continues the brand’s efforts to connect even the most coveted product to consumer digitally and safely.

We got the opportunity to customize a Nike Air Force 1 from the 90/10 Pack. The shoes have Tyvek uppers and are conducive to several customization options. We kept things simple and added reverse airbrushed Nike logos on the medial sides of the shoes.

Of the many surprises in the Maker’s HQ retail space, the unexpected release of the Air Force 1 “Taiwan” took the sneaker world by storm. This “grail” of the Air Force 1 catalog that originally dropped in 2001 was available exclusively at the Makers HQ on Saturday only. Many of the Makers attendees were may not have been alive when these first dropped. A future release has not been confirmed.

Force is Female. Nike’s continuing focus on women’s products was one of the lasting memories of the Nike Maker’s HQ; in addition to the Nike/Jordan “Reimagined” collection being released at the retail space, a Q&A with Kendrick Lamar revealed that the first “DAMN” Cortez was seeded only to women. Above is an example of some of the women’s Air Force 1 footwear spotted on-feet at the event.

The Jordan Studio 23 space in Little Tokyo was opened exclusively to students who registered for a spot online. Those who reserved a spot were required to show a student ID to access the space. Inside Studio 23 was a customization exhibit with @juworkingonprojects and @joshuavides, select footwear (AJ3 “Free Throw Line”, AJ3 “Black/Cement”, Air Jordan 1 “Gold Toe”, Jordan Why Not Zer0.1″) and Don C’s new women’s apparel/accessories line.

LeBron James joined Ronnie Fieg, Jason Petrie, and host Joe La Puma to discuss the LeBron 15 collaboration at KITH’s new Los Angeles store. The panel was capped off with LeBron hand-delivering the special edition KITH x Nike LeBron 15 to those who secured a pair the day prior. The KITH LA store is now open on 8500 Sunset Blvd.  beneath Fred Segal.

Perhaps the most important sneaker of the entire weekend was LeBron James’ Air Force 1 from the 90/10 Pack. The only customization that was made was the message of “More Than An Athlete”, which arrived at a perfect time given some inflammatory comments from Fox News host Laura Ingraham. In response to her order to “shut up and dribble”, LeBron took to Instagram to assure that he and his NBA colleagues were more than athletes, and that they have a responsibility to speak out.

Odell Beckham Jr. stole some of the spotlight with his hilarious Instagram Stories feed and his one-of-one Air Force 1s. This all-red rendition was designed with Ben Kirschner at Nike’s Room 72 space that was made for athletes and entertainers.

Is there anything more epic than a live performance by Kendrick Lamar in Los Angeles? The answer is simply no. Before Kung Fu Kenny took the stage, Kamaiyah, Sabrina Claudio, and H.E.R. fired up the crowd.

Can’t ignore some of the quirky sneaker sightings either. Nike Basketball designer Ben Nenthongkome, who penned the Kyrie 4, wore a pair of Air Monarchs inspired by the AJ3 “White/Cement”. These are not a custom, and will not release.

Many thanks to Nike.