Our European friends at K1X returns with a 2012 Spring/Summer collection, dubbed The Golden Era. The collection, featuring a wide range of products, is dedicated to a decade of excellence and is inspired by mostly basketball and hip-hop.
Ever since its creation in ’93, K1X has been known for its high-quality products and creative designs. Throughout the years, the brand has become one of the biggest names in the basketball industry. Basically, the Michael Jordan among basketball brands. Undeniably, brand consistency has achieved customer loyalty and made it possible to expand to new territories.
BallerStatus.com spoke with Niels Jäger, K1X’s Marketing and Design Director, about the new collection, business longevity and a successful decade in sports history.
BallerStatus.com: K1X was founded in ’93 and has now released another Spring/Summer collection. After being in the business for almost 20 years, you’re still going strong, which is quite an accomplishment in the apparel industry. How do you ensure business longevity?
Niels Jäger: Well, thank you. Our longevity is, of course, not only a consequence of our hustle on the apparel side, but also a result of our footwear offering, which has made major moves over the last couple of seasons. This summer, we will release our newest on-court performance silhouette named “Anti Gravity” (or “AG”). A dope, dope basketball shoe, which will hit the market in six flashy uni-colors in it’s inaugural roll-out.
K1X is a basketball brand. We are deeply rooted in sports culture, which itself is a quality that doesn’t tend to go out of style. Also, I think we’ve adapted very well to the obvious shift in streetwear fashion. And, we’ve collaborated with some of the finest athletes and artists in the business. Projects with the likes of Ron Artest, World B. Free, Charles Okaley, Team Flight Brothers, Team Sierra Leone, Method Man, various streetball icons, etc., underline K1X’s uncompromising authenticity.
BallerStatus.com: Where are you trying to take K1X in the next five years?
Niels Jäger: To take over the world, one court at a time. We are making a strong push towards even more performance-orientated products and are looking forward to establish ourselves in more basketball-minded markets. The development of our boutique line K1Xclusive (“limited product for selected accounts”) is another important page on our playbook. We are very proud of the fact that K1X has established itself as a regular force in high-end boutiques like Colette (Paris), SneakersNStuff (Stockholm), and Solebox (Berlin).
BallerStatus.com: Talking with people in the industry, we know a lot of brands are trying to expand their costumers and accounts to a wider audience. There are obvious reasons for this. Is it something K1X is aiming for, or do you remain dedicated to basketball and hip-hop audiences?
Niels Jäger: We are not trying to keep anyone out of the loop. But, of course a brand is only as legit as its retailers and customers. It makes sense to target a larger audience as long as you are not messing with your heritage and credibility. We will continue to make products by baller for ballers. If a mainstream clientele shows interest, we’ll decide whether we want to cater to that audience. A current example for K1X is the snowboard and freeski culture. We do not consider them mainstream, but they are outside of our regular focus and have started adopting some of our products (hoodies, jerseys, jackets, winter boots), and that’s great.
BallerStatus.com: K1X is always organizing sports tournaments and events throughout the country. Do you think streetwear brands have a certain responsibility, based on their potential influence on the culture and on people?
Niels Jäger: Not sure. We do organize and support several basketball events, but we’d love to do more in that respect. At the end of the day, it’s a question of: can we afford it? If a brand can’t afford to support the culture on an event level, it can always support the cause by spreading the right message. Our most recent involvements include the Summer Madness Tournament in Brighton (UK) and the Disarmament Game in Freetown (Sierra Leone), the latter of which was an initiative to spread positivity by bringing several gangs together in an effort to drop the guns and stop the violence.
My favorite example, aesthetically, was the summer of 2009, in which we supported some of New York City’s best tournaments.
BallerStatus.com:For spring/summer 2012, the collection is known as The Golden Era, dedicated to a decade of excellence, and focused on basketball and hip-hop. What kind of process did you guys go through when creating concepts for this particular collection?
Niels Jäger: Basketball and its special relationship and synergy with hip-hop culture is always a main ingredient for K1X’s inspiration when it comes to design. But, the 1990s were very special, because (at least in my humble opinion) that decade brought out the best in both cultures — basketball and hip-hop. It’s no wonder that K1X was founded during the Golden Era, which presented us with the original Dream Team, the Michigan Fab Five, Jordan’s heroics, and Chuck’s attitude; with Biggie, Nas, Jigga and A Tribe Called Quest; with “Boyz N The Hood,” “Hoop Dreams” and the 36 Chambers. So the process was a lot of fun: listen to dope music and watch great footage and then see what happens.
BallerStatus.com: How did you see basketball and hip-hop evolve to what it is today?
Niels Jäger: Back in the ’90s, basketball and hip-hop culture in Europe were a lot more underground than today. I guess that was a major appeal, just because it took more research and effort to be a part of it. Still, I am very happy that both basketball and hip-hop have received the attention they deserve. It’s great to see so many “overseas players” doing well in the NBA, because that’s a big help for national leagues all over the world. Basketball will always be great, simply because it’s the best game ever invented (honorable mention: “Pac-Man” and Women’s Beach Volleyball). So, thank you very much, James Naismith, we are all forever in your debt.
Hip-hop is ruling the charts and there is some really good stuff out there. It’s just that there’s more random sh** out there too these days. The next Mike is arguably already wearing a Lakers or Heat jersey, depending on who you ask. The next Biggie Smalls may just end up being a bearded gold chain wearing “bawse” from Miami. It’s all good.
For more info on K1X, visit K1X.com.