This is the Portland Trail Blazers star’s first investment in a tech startup

Kicks Crew, a Hong Kong and Los Angeles-based e-commerce platform for sneakers and apparel, has announced its partnership with NBA star Damian Lillard. The point guard of the Portland Trail Blazers is now an equity investor of the platform and its first Crew Athlete.

This is the first tech startup that Lillard has ever invested in and is a result of his shared vision with Kicks Crew to introduce sneaker culture to a wider audience.

“I invested in Kicks Crew because of the platform’s unique point of view on sneaker culture. Putting accessibility and community first, they’re building a space that allows everyone to experience sneaker culture,” said Lillard in a release to the press.

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Damian Lillard (Photo: Kicks Crew)
Above Damian Lillard (Photo: Kicks Crew)

According to Kicks Crew COO Ross Yip, a 2018 Gen.T honouree, the partnership was forged over six months. “When we first met, it was clear that Damian genuinely wanted to get to know us more and the chemistry between us was good,” he tells Gen.T. “As our conversation continued, we understood Damian’s wish to get more financially involved in the tech space, but in a way that was personal and passion-driven for him.”

Yip saw instant synergy between Damian and Kicks Crew’s brand ethos—that being having a sense of community is the cornerstone of success. 

“The more we interacted with Damian, the more we understood each other’s shared desire to make sneaker culture less alienating and more accessible,” shares Yip. 

“Damian also talked about the ability to shop for his wife and women in his family as much as he is able to find everyday and hype shoes all on Kicks Crew. This was what he felt was the difference. We believe this was also a key reason we were so in sync.”

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Kicks Crew founder and CEO Johnny Mak and COO Ross Yip
Above Kicks Crew founder and CEO Johnny Mak and COO Ross Yip

According to Kicks Crew, both parties actually decided to inked a partnership deal in early 2022. “The timing felt right for both sides,” says Yip. 

The partnership will launch with a campaign and philanthropic event in Damian’s hometown of Oakland, California. Simultaneously, there will also be a digital experience on The Crew app featuring limited edition items up to grabs. This includes signed merchandise from Lillard, hype sneakers, Kicks Crew credits to use for purchases, as well as a selection of sneakers curated by Lillard.

Yip also says that there are also a series of events in Hong Kong being planned for next year that Lillard will attend. More details to follow.

'gallery right' 'gallery right'
'gallery right' 'gallery right'
Photo 1 of 4 The partnership kicks off with a community initiative held in Damian's hometown of Oakland, California (Photo: Kicks Crew)
Photo 2 of 4 Damian Lillard (Photo: Kicks Crew)
Photo 3 of 4 Damian Lillard (Photo: Kicks Crew)
Photo 4 of 4 Kicks Crew founder Johnny Mak (left) with Damian Lillard (right) behind the scenes at the inaugural campaign shoot (Photo: Kicks Crew)

Kicks Crew was founded by CEO Johnny Mak in 2008, with Yip joining him in 2021 as co-founder and COO. The platform began as a resell business that worked with direct-to-consumer platforms such as Amazon, eBay and JD. In 2021, it pivoted to a direct-to-consumer model and now carries over 400,000 styles of footwear, from everyday footwear to rare kicks.

In March this year, the company raised US$6 million in a Series A round from Gobi Partners, Pacific Century Group and Complex China. 

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