Everything we’ve seen so far with Big Baller Brand has been off the cuff and unprecedented, and the remix of Lonzo Ball’s ZO2 Prime shoe is no different.
Just a couple of months ahead of the sneaker’s November release date, Big Baller Brand has completely remodeled the ZO2 Prime, giving it a new look and feel. Let’s take a look (via SLAM):
Big Baller Brand continues to march to the beat of its own drum. This is an unprecedented move by the brand to keep an ear to the ground to see how its shoe is being received in the public, and it’s not afraid to switch things up if it feels it has to.
Those who already preordered the original ZO2 Prime will now receive the new ZO2 Prime model in its respective colorways. Those orders will ship on the original Nov. 24 date. However, all new preorders will ship on Jan. 18, according to the Big Baller Brand site.
It isn’t weird for shoe designers to have samples and reference models that they work from before a sneaker release and change their plans at the last minute. It is weird, however, for the brand to publicly release a model as the shoe and then change it shortly before it becomes available to the public. Why do this? Well, there are a few potential reasons.
Big Baller Brand didn’t like the reaction of the initial ZO2
In the video, Ball mentioned that he and his team at Big Baller Brand were “inspired” by the public support of their product and the decision they made to forgo a deal with a major apparel brand to start their own. They listened to the public, took their feedback, and updated the shoe.
While there was plenty of support for Big Baller Brand, there was also plenty of backlash to go along with it. The early public reception to the ZO2 was that it looked like multiple silhouettes combined from different brands. Though this new design still borrows certain traits from its predecessor, like the shape of the midsole, its ZO2 logo and its low cut, it’s certainly a different design that doesn’t immediately harken back to the qualities of its competitors.
The shoe still won’t be worth its $495 price tag to some people, but there are those who will continue to support the brand and Ball’s shoe simply because of the independence behind it. This new look gives people another reason to buy in on the ZO2 Prime because of its different design.
The original design didn’t perform how Ball wanted it to
Ball played in different shoes throughout the summer league, but he played his two worst games in his own sneaker. He also did his first Lakers workout in a pair of James Harden Vol. 1 sneakers from Adidas.
At that point, the ZO2 Primes hadn’t been seen in action on the court yet in a real, meaningful game. Ball may have practiced in them or worked out in them, but that’s different from playing an actual organized basketball game.
That summer league period could have just been one big wear test. There was speculation that Ball just wasn’t comfortable in his own shoe and was wearing shoes from other brands to find what fit worked best for him.
Stephen Goodman, an instructor at Georgetown University’s Sports Industry Management School, said it’s fairly common for shoes to be wear-tested on their first actual run when playing a sport and that it is completely possible that Ball used summer league for that.
“Nike and Adidas are constantly making shoes and updating them and making them better,” Goodman told SB Nation. “I don’t see where one guy is going to just come and make a great shoe for a world-class athlete.”
And the specs on the remix take a completely different turn than they did on the original model. The shoe now comes with a mesh upper along with a carbon fiber heel counter making the shoe extremely light while increasing flexibility. It also comes with a foam insole that allows for both stability and cushion. “Remix means quality, and we want to keep every wearer on point,” the brand’s description of the shoe says.
Won’t this alienate some customers?
Maybe? Maybe not. There will be some customers who specifically wanted the original ZO2 design and won’t want to see anything else but that. But there will also be those who are excited for the new design and are willing to fork over $495 for it.
But the bottom line is this: This is the product that consumers will get now. When they bought into the brand, they knew it was unconventional and this new step just became part of that.
Whether it’s a sound business strategy from Big Baller Brand is up for debate. The company runs the risk of having more cancellations between the lengthy timeline of the actual release of the shoe and switching up its look on customers, but that’s a risk it’s willing to take on.
The question now is are there enough preorders to move into production and will the company actually be able to get those orders out. Only time will tell, but we’ll find out on Nov. 24 when initial preorders are shipped.