Anta goes global with launch of Kyrie Irving signature sneaker

On 6 March in Dallas, Texas and 7 March in Beijing, Chinese sportswear giant Anta dropped its hotly anticipated signature sneaker with NBA star Kyrie Irving of the Dallas Mavericks. Later the same day, the Kyrie Irving KAI 1 shoe landed in New York City before launching in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Xiamen and Chengdu, as well as apps such as Tmall, JD, Poizon (Dewu) and WeChat Mini Program.

The starting line-up is a purple colourway “Artist On Court” edition and a pair will set you back 899 RMB (124.93 USD) in China and 125 USD in the US. Each launch event was met with long queues, lot drawing, quickly sold-out merchandise and high prices by resellers on second-hand markets.

Since last year, Anta has been quietly building up to this launch. After current brand CEO Xu Yang took over early last year, overseas expansion and the Irving deal have been the priorities, as Irving had just parted ways with Nike in December 2022. The partnership with Irving to become Anta’s brand ambassador was announced last July and the news of ANTA entering the US was announced in January. A “Sneakerverse” concept store was also teased in Sanlitun Taikoo Li in Beijing with an art short film.

Anta as a brand is projected to grow 10-15% in revenue each year. In 2022 and H1 2023, the brand raked in 27.72 billion RMB (3.85 billion USD) and 14.17 billion RMB (1.97 billion USD), making up 51.67% and 47.80% of the Anta Group revenue, respectively. Anta’s expansion is also progressing in Southeast Asia with 40 shops in both the Philippines and Malaysia, 4 in Singapore, as well as plans to open 10 in Thailand. The step of a simultaneous launch of Irving’s signature sneaker marks the beginning of a bigger expansion of the brand, which aimed to not be “Nike of China” but “Anta of the world”.


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