Sneakers for Entrepreneurs: How K-Swiss Rebranded Around the Modern Hustle
In its more than 50 years as an LA-based brand, K-Swiss has undergone several transformations. From its tennis origins, to its ‘90s cult following, to its effective “I Wear My K-Swiss” campaign in the aughts, the company has embraced rebrands to connect with customers amidst ever-changing pop culture.
Around three years ago, under the direction of new president Barney Waters, the company began its latest pivot to become the go-to sneaker company for entrepreneurs. Since then, K-Swiss has shown an impressive ability to tap into the zeitgeist, underscored by creating a shoe line with famed marketing entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk.
This collaboration has coincided with revamped marketing efforts focused on providing valuable business insights, such as through a new K-Swiss podcast, CEOs Wear Sneakers.
I recently sat down with Waters and Omar Prestwich, the social media community manager for K-Swiss. During the interview, Waters and Prestwich share how the company rebranded around entrepreneurship and how K-Swiss creates genuine connections with those who hustle and grind.
While other sneaker companies like Nike and Adidas battle for dominance in athletics by partnering with some of the world’s most famous sports stars, Waters notes that K-Swiss found an open lane in entrepreneurship. The company realized that young people today often aspire to create businesses, and they see grinding and hustling as a badge of honor.
To reach this audience, K-Swiss has partnered with influencers like Vaynerchuk and provided value to entrepreneurs. Whether it’s through conversations on social media related to building businesses -- including genuine dialogues with Prestwich himself -- or creating original media content about entrepreneurship, K-Swiss forms real connections by providing real business knowledge while inspiring people to chase their dreams.
Waters and Prestwich drop insight after insight about what it takes to build a business -- especially at the end, when it gets real with some life lessons, including a frank discussion about the end goal of entrepreneurship.