Why Gary Vaynerchuk Is Putting His Name on a K-Swiss Sneaker

At some point in your life, you probably wore a pair of the perennial K-Swiss Classic tennis shoes. It all started with a dream in 1966 when two Swiss brothers moved to California to start the footwear company.

When Barney Waters became K-Swiss’s new leader in 2015, he had an idea to inspire the next generation of hustlers and go-getters.

Adopting the “culture of a 50-year-old startup,” Waters recognized that if you look at what’s relevant online, you can’t avoid the social media superstar, mega-entrepreneur, and CEO of VaynerMedia: Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s the ultimate representation of what many young people aspire to be.

Fast forward: The “GaryVee 001 and 002” K-Swiss Generation K Collaboration will launch on Vaynerchuk’s 42nd birthday: Nov. 14, 2017.

Vaynerchuk gave The Oracles the exclusive inside scoop. And here are six business lessons you can learn from the collaboration.

1. Push against an open door.

Waters says, “If you can’t be first, be different.” K-Swiss recognized that Nike owns the athletics space, which started with the juggernaut (Michael) Jordan brand. And Adidas owns the celebrity space with the Yeezy (Kanye West collaboration) brand. But no shoe brand was occupying the entrepreneurship space.

Their research found that 60 percent of people want to be the CEO of their own company. Ten years ago, it was to become a celebrity or an athlete—no one wanted to become an entrepreneur. In a shrewd business move, they’re leveraging that culture with Vaynerchuk, one of the leading faces of modern entrepreneurship.

“I think it’s a smart move,” Vaynerchuk says. “This is the single greatest era of entrepreneurship. Back in the day, rappers wanted to be athletes and athletes wanted to be rappers. And now: both of them wanna be entrepreneurs.”