When you think of New York legends, Patrick Ewing is a staple. While his allure as an NBA hall-of-famer dates back to his battles against Jordan for Eastern Conference supremacy, it was his brand of shoes that made a cultural impact on New York City culture. While athletes like Stan Smith and Michael Jordan set the bar for athlete endorsements, it was Patrick Ewing who bucked the trend by having a sneaker brand to call his own. While the Rebound model was the first sneaker he wore on the courts, it was the 33 HI that became a staple in the streets until his brand closed up shop in ‘96.
With the explosion of retro sneakers as of late, it only made sense for Ewing Athletics to make a comeback. Since it was reintroduced in 2012, Ewing has once again become a staple amongst sneaker purists.
With an exclusive All-Star Weekend capsule collection set to debut at Toronto retailer, In Vintage We Trust, we spoke with Ilan Friedman and David Goldberg (the team behind Ewing Athletics) and Josh Roter (co-owner of In Vintage We Trust) to gain better insight for tonight’s launch.
What was the thinking behind this year’s special All-Star model?
David: I wanted to continue the All-Star theme from last year’s shoe based on the 1990 Miami game, but update it to fit the theme around Toronto. The colors were inspired by the three professional Toronto teams, paying homage to the Toronto sports scene and to celebrate the first All-Star Game ever played there. We updated the logo on the tongue to include the Maple Leaf from the Canadian Flag and added some glow in the dark leaves around the toe box.
Can you talk about the Ewing activation around All-Star Weekend and the capsule collection?
Ilan: In Vintage We Trust is an amazing shop in Toronto that encapsulates the ’80s and ’90s era. More importantly, Josh has incredible awareness around Patrick’s career and the New York Knick era during his time. It was important for the brand because he has such a vast knowledge and understanding of the history of the Ewing brand and the NBA.
Josh: Ewing and the In Vintage We Trust vision work hand-in-hand. Our passion for what we do can be seen in the expertly curated selection present at the shop this weekend. Ewing Athletics seemed like an obvious marriage.
I: Ultimately, we could’ve gone and did it in another space, but it made sense on so many levels to work with someone who understands the importance and history around the Ewing brand. The influence that era had on him during Patrick’s reign has been instrumental in what he is doing today.
Basketball in Canada has come a long way since the NBA first broke ground in Toronto in ‘95, and this is the first All-Star game outside of American soil. How special is it to witness basketball culture celebrate its presence, not only for the city but for the country?
J: Growing up, if you wanted to watch ball in the late ’80s or early ’90s there weren’t a lot of options. Maybe a mid-week game if there was a lull in the hockey schedule and then there was the NBA on NBC. Usually it was the Bulls, Lakers, Celtics or Pistons. The distinct shift for ball coverage north of the border was the inception of the Raptors and Grizzlies. The presence of Pro Basketball altered the Canadian sports landscape. How big is ASG in Canada? From a personal level, we’ve been accumulating product specific for an event of this magnitude for five years.
The Ewing brand awareness has grown significantly, why do you feel people still resonate with the brand?
D: We are the only authentic basketball brand from the golden era of the ’80s and ’90s that had not come back. Patrick was the first player to have a brand to call his own well before anyone else, and there was always a cult following for the brand. Rumors floated around for years that one day it would return. The history of Patrick and his brand, coupled with a new age and wave of people into retro sneakers, doing the homework on the old brands… it’s just something that cannot be duplicated or recreated with multi-million dollar ad campaigns or major brand muscle or power.
What’s next for Ewing Athletics?
D: We have a lot of good stuff planned as the brand continues to grow. From kids shoes, apparel, collabs, and multiple individual projects in the works; it’s a really exciting time for the brand.