In today’s basketball sneaker landscape dominated by monster-sized companies, a few bold brands are elbowing their way the into the arena to compete. BRANDBLACK is one such competitor. Founder David Raysse is no hack new-jack designer looking to simply slap a new color scheme onto a retro model. With 15 years of experience, ranging for designs for Tracy McGrady as director of design for the basketball division at adidas to crafting the crafting the iconic Grant Hill II for Fila, Raysse has a strong resume of experience in the sneaker game. As he told us in our recent discussion, he’s grown tired of the look and feel of today’s court shoes, and he felt compelled to change that.. In an effort to design and manufacture footwear that melds high-fashion aesthetics with court-ready functionality, Raysse conceived BRANDBLACK.
In todays crossover climate with sports and fashion, professional basketball players can be spotted sitting front row at fashion runway shows, so the time seems right to offer a shoe like the J. Crossover that features metallic paneling atop a lightweight and responsive sole. More frequently, it seems that high fashion brands are crafting items that can be worn as athletic wear, but BRANDBLACK looks to return the favor with court-ready that have an eye towards Paris and Milan.
BRANDBLACK set out to evoke a time like the 90s in sneaker design when a baller could walk off the court and still rock his kicks to his next destination without swapping out his sneakers. While BRANDBLACK’s models themselves don’t have the same clunky and disjointed technology of 90s shoes, he is after the appeal of a footwear choice that with all the contemporary lightweight, supportive specs that has the look of something more than a contemporary court shoe. Raysse knows that the reason we still see retro models from the 90s selling out today is that those particular designs transcended sport and nudged their way into becoming cultural staples.
While the on-court models have the technology and technical specs to handle the nimble, ankle-breaking style of Jamal Crawford, the brand’s first endorser, their other offerings seem equally at home on the hardwood at the gym or a reservation dinner. In our exclusive chat with David Raysse we learn of learning about his early years working in design with Philippe Starck, the influence of art on his work and approach, and his dream collaborator. Click through the article to get inside the mind of a man hard at work sketching the next BRANDBLACK model that aims at comfort on and off the court.
- Produced by: Dan Hwang | Interviewed & Written by: Jesse Carr