New Balance's Kawhi Leonard Tee Is Minimalist Design at Its Finest (and It Keeps Selling Out)
Regardless of whether you're rooting for the Toronto Raptors or the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals (or you're just here for the T-shirt promotions), you have to admit Kawhi Leonard is a basketball superstar. While the Raptors experienced an upsetting defeat in Monday night's game 5, Leonard is enjoying a victory in the athletic apparel world.
According to Yahoo Finance, Leonard's "Fun Guy" T-shirts are so popular, New Balance, who is producing the shirts, can't keep them in stock. It might come as a slight surprise given the no-frills design and branding, but it seems Leonard is just that popular with fans. It's also a testament to the power of clean, simple design when used right.
The tee is available in black, red and white, and simply features the phrase "Fun Guy.," with the New Balance logo underneath. It's a nod to Leonard's first press conference as a Raptor, and it's a phrase that has become something of an inside joke for Raptors fans, symbolizing Leonard's stoic, reserved public demeanor.
The tees were so popular that upon their sell-out and subsequent restock, the New Balance site crashed.
New Balance site just crashed as soon as new batch of Kawhi shirts returned. pic.twitter.com/jEWsZkKeC7
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) June 7, 2019
There's no doubt that this partnership benefited from the Raptors' playoff run, but the alliance has been a long time in the making. New Balance has been trying to rebrand itself as a trend-setter in the athletic apparel market in the hopes of competing with Nike and Adidas. As a result, the company was looking to go all in on an athlete to become the new face of the company, and Leonard fit the bill.
“We wanted somebody who had a creative vision, who wanted to be engaged and almost be an entrepreneur and help build this category for us,” Patrick Cassidy, the global director of consumer marketing for New Balance, said in an interview with Yahoo Finance Canada."We were looking for a true independent thinker in a sea of sameness. He’s one of the best—if not the best—players in the world. Who better to validate our basketball performance and credibility than a guy like that?”
Micro-moment branded apparel has been a huge trend these past few years, especially in the sports world. More and more fans are looking to invest in limited-edition clothing that sets them apart from the other fans, and micro-moment apparel gives them that chance. In all likelihood, if New Balance had released the usual Kawhi Leonard name and number T-shirt, it wouldn't have been as hot a commodity. But because this is a unique T-shirt with branding that is a callback to a significant event in Leonard's career, it holds more value.