Late last night and early this morning, A$AP Rocky and Under Armour were the talk of the sneaker web with a leaked conference room pic that many assumed to be a collaborative release between the Harlem rapper and Baltimore brand.
In all fairness, who’s to fault anyone who did? In the past, collaborations between the likes of Kanye West and Nike have surfaced in similar fashion, with the recently revealed and soon after confirmed 2 Chainz x Versace drop hitting the internet a comparable manner.
Late last night though, Rocky went on Twitter to put all rumors to rest and confirm that the shoe in said photo with him was NOT his collaboration.
No half stepping, this is true as our own Nick DePaula has confirmed that this is not an A$AP Rocky x Under Armour shoe, but rather the latest UAS Forge model. Sporting the same sole and also geometric in styling, you can see the original UAS Forge 1 Mid below which is currently being sold at Under Armour.
So, what does this all mean for the real or eventual A$AP Rocky x Under Armour shoe? Well that might not exactly happen (though it could) as it’s not necessarily Rocky’s role with the brand. More advisor with creative input than someone stamping his name on a shoe, Rocky’s deal is different than the common collaboration. Specifically, as part of the A$AP Rocky x Under Armour partnership, the brand shows Rocky all the upcoming Under Armour Sportswear product, allowing Rocky to review it and give input.
Thus, said photo that caused a stir makes total sense. It also confirms previous reports.
When our own Nick DePaula reported the deal when it was leaked and confirmed last July, he stated that the deal would be “a non-exclusive partnership that will empower Rocky to work hand-in-hand with UAS creative director Tim Coppens and his team of designers on lifestyle footwear and apparel.” For those unfamiliar with UAS (Under Armour Sportswear), it is the higher end line from the Baltimore brand that was launched over a year ago and sole in boutiques which included statement pieces such as detailed jackets and accessories alongside understated classic items like tees, chinos and joggers.
So, what does all that mean? The term ‘non-exclusive’ confirms that Rocky can, will and has worn brands other Under Armour in the time since the deal, and will continue to do so. Essentially, UAS brought Rocky on for his taste more so than his design skills — Rocky has often stated that he is not a designer as he has great respect for those that are both by education or trade — or even as an standard endorser. In the past, Rocky has done deals with everyone from Dior to adidas that saw more modeling than straight up curating. Just the same, they all allowed him to wear everything from Gucci to Nike on his own time and his own terms. While UAS is undoubtably cutting Flacko a fat check and in this regard bringing him on more for his mind than his modeling, the artist is continuing to hold the power to wear what he wants, when he wants.
In accordance with that, Rocky has publicly stated that the partnership is more about empowerment than product. In a cover story interview with Will Welch of GQ, Rocky stated that on his end of the deal, the main draw is giving back to youth:
“People would assume, with me going into a business deal with a sports brand, that it would be all about designing or curating a line—making things more lit. But what I liked about Kevin Plank, the CEO of Under Armour, was that he had a vision. He gives, gives, gives. When you donate or you do charities, it’s not about showing people ‘Look, I’m doing this.’ I was in a shelter myself. And I know that when people be donating and shit, you ain’t get no fly shit at Christmases and all that. You don’t see no money. Pardon my French, but you don’t see no money. So I really want to make a difference. So I got with Kevin and Under Armour so we could open up real rec centers with fly shit in them. Not hand-me-down toys and technology—new stuff. And programs for kids to learn to become entrepreneurs, designers, athletes. They can screen-print their own tees and sell ’em from the store, get that commission on it. I think it’s smart. Those kids need laptops and phones today—that’s their platform. So I want to do something that’s really gonna make a difference, as opposed to fronting with the cameras like, ‘Ah, I’m doing this, doing that.’ We gonna show and prove when we go and design uniforms. We’re gonna start in New York, the tristate area, ‘cause that’s where I’m from. And then go to different junior high schools and high schools throughout the country.”
When Welch followed up in the same interview regarding whether the partnership would transfer to A$AP Rocky x Under Armour apparel or sneakers, Rocky reiterated the stance that the deal was more about charity than moving units:
“I’m talking about giving away to schools. That’s not selling, bro—you don’t make any money off of that. What are you talking about? I want to facilitate ways for kids to get better education without calling it education, ‘cause that shit sounds boring. I want to make a way for being smart to be cool. There’s nothing wrong with being a thinker. Where I’m from, being smart has a negative connotation—that means you sold out, that means you’re a geek. I’m just trying to say, ‘Fuck all that. This is the plan: You are the future, that other shit is the past, so let’s make a better way.’ And if I feel like designing some shit with Under Armour, I will.”
So, while designing isn’t in the language of the deal with UAS, with someone creative like Rocky you never know. Still, the deal appears to be more about advising and giving back than co-signing or modeling.
Interesting enough, while the upcoming UAS Forge is not a signature or collaborative shoe from Rocky, it definitely gains both esteem and interest from simply being in the same photo as Flacko. Even if he wrote the model off rather than approved it, intentionally or accidentally, the shoe gains steam from being attached to Rocky. In some ways, the shoe makes sense in its alignment based on recent wears from Rocky ranging from Dior and Prada runners that are both chunky and geometric just like the shoe in question.
The question is if UAS drops this Forge or product that passed inspection from Rocky, would you buy it? The fact that we’re talking about it and thinking about it is already a win for Under Armour, whether or not it translates to retail remains to be seen.
Never the less, 2018 appears to be a big year for Rocky with a new album on the way and a UA partnership that will see an impact much bigger than bottom line. Let us know your hope, take and interest in this partnership on social.