At the end of Under Armour’s Human Performance Summit in Baltimore, Md., on Tuesday afternoon, Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid announced that he and the brand will launch his first-ever signature shoe in 2020, with a retail release likely this upcoming fall to coincide with the start of the 2020-21 NBA regular season.
The inaugural edition of the shoe will feature a design that pays homage to Embiid’s native country Cameroon in Africa, with an outline of the continent stationed on the heel. The official silhouette has yet to be revealed.
Joel Embiid just announced in Baltimore that his Under Armour Embiid 1 signature shoe will release in Fall 2020.
He’ll become the 17th NBA player to have a Sig — and the only Center.
An outline of Africa is featured on the heel, the 1st point of contact for anyone wearing it. pic.twitter.com/L3NZWrMAIN
— Nick DePaula (@NickDePaula) January 14, 2020
Embiid will become the 17th NBA player with a signature shoe and the “UA Embiid 1” will make him the only current center with that distinction and the first since Dwight Howard when he was sporting Adidas signatures in the early 2010s during his days with the Orlando Magic.
“As a kid, I never could have dreamed of being in this situation with my own signature shoe,” Embiid said. “The process has been incredible with the work that’s been put in. Not a lot of guys in my profession get this opportunity, and I’m truly grateful for it.
Other NBA-ers with signature sneaker lines include LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Damian Lillard, who not only provided their respective brands with feedback on the design of their shoe but also receive a 5% royalty from every pair sold.
How much money Embiid rakes in off those royalties remains to be seen, as it’s known that big men struggle to move units at the same volume of guards and wing players. During UA’s Summit Embiid declared that his signature is for all players in hopes of broadening the shoe’s appeal.
“It’s not a big man shoe. It’s a shoe for any basketball player.”
There’s a reason why no other center in the league touted a signature prior to Embiid. It’s a considerable investment for a brand to make and the prospect of an underwhelming financial return is terrifying.
How many hoopers do you know that strolled into FootLocker and copped a pair of Dwight Howard’s over Kobe’s, Bron’s or KD’s? It’s just not happening often and brands recognize this, which is why they’re tactful about which players they choose to link up with.
But despite all of this, I actually think Under Armour and Embiid are both positioned to thrive with the release of his first signature.
Although still an underdog compared to the likes of Nike and Adidas, Under Armour has been able to make an ascension in the world of basketball apparel thanks to Golden State Warriors megastar Stephen Curry.
Despite their successes with Curry, UA has been on the hunt for a second star as they look to further elevate their burgeoning basketball campaign, and it looks like they believe Embiid is that guy.
His signature will mark the third ever for the brand, following former NBA player Brandon Jennings’ “Micro G,” series and Curry’s ongoing string of sneaker releases.
Embiid is not only one of the best players in the league, but he’s funny, free-spirited and engaging, characteristics that will make it easy for UA to sculpt an effective marketing scheme around him.
I can already hear an Under Armour commercial with Embiid imploring us to “Trust the Process,” in his unique Cameroonian accent. You can’t help but like it and laugh.
Add in the fact that his current basketball backdrop is in Philadelphia, a fanatical market that will show their support in the form of purchases, and both parties have to be thrilled with the potential that this now signature partnership has.
However, it’s paramount that Embiid, who has grappled with injury issues throughout his career, stays healthy not only for the success of the 76ers but for the shoe as well.
He obviously needs to be on the court to showcase the sneaker, and it would help if he got some non-centers to rock them during games as well to reiterate that it isn’t for just players one of position.
Embiid signed a five-year footwear and apparel deal with Under Armour back in Oct. 2018 after briefly being a sneaker free agent. He was also courted by Puma and New Balance, but the significance of Under Armour’s offer, which makes him the highest-paid at his position, was too much to turn down.