Big Baller Brand and Lavar Ball have done it again. Just when we thought Ball’s agonizingly cringy time in the limelight was over, the notorious father of NBA players LaMelo and Lonzo Ball, and NBA G-League hopeful LiAngelo Ball, took to Instagram to announce BBB’s “luxury lifestyle” sneakers.
The sneakers in question — designed by Liangelo Ball, who is currently hoping to get drafted into the NBA G-League and secure a spot in the NBA in the future — look like yet another knockoff Alexander McQueen sneaker. It’s the sort of design I used to see sold on the streets of Thailand growing up there.
In fact, I would argue you can hardly call what Liangelo Ball has done “design” when that silhouette has been around since the ’70s. Have you ever heard of the Stan Smith? At least the Alexander McQueen sneakers, which are oddly popular again and probably why the Balls decided to go with that aesthetic, add a different element via the exaggerated platform sole.
To add insult to injury, these sneakers are delusionally priced at $695. Considering Big Baller Brand’s track record with quality (Lonzo Ball reportedly ditched his first BBB signature sneakers because they were falling apart after every quarter), I don’t need these in hand to predict that the shoes are probably no better than the aforementioned Thai knockoffs.
I don’t want to totally shit on something people (hopefully) put a decent amount of time and effort into — for what it’s worth, I think the premise behind BBB is a noble one. But you need to surround yourself with people that know what they’re doing. It might not be the best idea to allow a 22-year-old without any prior footwear design experience to choose colorways for a ridiculously marked-up shoe. On the other hand, it is a start, and if this is what LiAngelo Ball wants to do in the future, it is the perfect place to learn about the business without too much pressure.
But there’s a reason both Lonzo and Lamelo Ball play in gear provided by established sportswear brands. The latter just unveiled his first signature sneaker in partnership with PUMA, while Lonzo plays in re-makes of Kobe Bryant’s signature sneakers.
There’s one thing Lavar Ball is right about, though, and that’s that lifestyle is easier than performance. But to put four incredibly mediocre shoes on the table and price them at $695 (with some rising to $895) is an affront to both sneaker designer and sneaker consumers. It’s clear that Lavar Ball is not giving up on Big Baller Brand, and why should he? But it’s just as clear that there is a long way to go before the brand’s products will be taken seriously, let alone mentioned in the same breath as real luxury sneakers.
Is a Balenciaga Croc really worth several hundred dollars? How much are you paying for the materials, and how much is the prestige of the brand? The answer is that you’re probably not getting a shoe that is qualitatively worth nearly $1,000 when you shop at real luxury brands. But those brands have reputations, prestige, and (for the most part) original and (sometimes) interesting designs. So you can argue about the definition of luxury all you want, but, right now, Big Baller Brand ain’t it.
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