Founded in 1993, KICKZ wears its streetwise, trash-talking, baller badge with pride; no excuses, no apologies. At Bread &Butter 2017, the Munich-based brand played BOLD on its fully-functional basketball court, which gave visitors the chance to win prizes, improve basketball skills or otherwise tear up the woodwork. Dunk Elite also made an appearance; exploding minds as they bring their creative dunking to the event.
Following Zalando’s acquisition of KICKZ at the beginning of the year, we managed to grab some hang time with KICKZ founder, Christian Grosse to talk about what makes the iconic German brand so special.
What first inspired you to open a sneaker boutique?
When we started 1993 in Munich, there was nothing comparable all over Europe; maybe not even in the US: a super clean store which sees sneakers as almost fetish items rather than footwear.
We always had a strong focus on basketball. It’s a trend-driving category with ties to music and inner-city art; culturally it’s very important. The ‘92 Barcelona Olympics saw the US “Dream Team” enter the world stage with legends like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, and around the same time White Men Can’t Jump brought the streetball scene into the public eye. I figured it was a good time to start. I had no clue about the business in the beginning. I just came back from university in South Africa, so it was classic learning by doing.
How did online transform your business?
KICKZ was among the very first online shops in Germany. We had a very successful mailorder business before, which we translated smoothly into the online world when the internet came along.
You have a history of choosing great partnerships, such as K1X at Foot Locker back in the 90s or collaborations with the likes of Patrick Mohr.
The first basketball shoe K1X ever came up with, “the Chiefgilder”, made it straight onto the feet of the NBA star Ron Artest. Along came a placement at Foot Locker stores all over the world, and we enjoyed solid success. We have been partnering with Foot Locker ever since.
The K1XPM shoe is a phenomenon all on its own. We supply it to the best sneaker stores on the planet and they sell out within minutes. We’ve had great collaborations with Patta, Luisa Via Roma, Sneakersnstuff, Solebox, FourTwoFour on Fairfax, Selfridges and Colette, which we’re sorry to see close its doors later this year.
Christian Grosse, KICKZ founder
"Zalando’s team spirit, speed, friendliness, pure talent and boldness – combined with a healthy “icke bins” Berlin attitude – is their (and our) winning formula."
What does the partnership with Zalando mean to you?
It’s been great so far. I am utmost impressed by the people driving it and working there. I have looked inside many big corporations, and I must say Zalando’s team spirit, speed, friendliness, pure talent and boldness – combined with a healthy “icke bins” Berlin attitude – is their (and our) winning formula.