Anta Sports launches in US with Kyrie Irving Kai 1s

    Anta Sports has officially launched in the US market, kicking off with the Kyrie Irving Kai 1s.
    Image: Anta Sports
      Published   in Consumer

    What happened

    Chinese sports conglomerate Anta Sports and American basketball player Kyrie Irvin launched their first pair of sneakers on March 6. The eggplant purple “Kai 1” court shoes represent the first collaboration between the Dallas Mavericks player and the Chinese sports equipment giant.

    Earlier in the year, Anta announced its plans to officially enter the US market on the same day as the Kai 1 launch. The Chinese sportswear firm expressed its confidence in successfully moving into the American market at the time, stating it would hold a series of promotional events across the country.

    The Jing Take

    Back in China, Anta and Irving’s Kai 1s have caught the attention of China’s sneakerheads and netizens. Thus far, the verdict for the shoes, which retail for around RMB 899 ($125) across Chinese e-commerce sites, has not been promising.

    The shoe’s design, which has been likened to Irving’s previous designs with Nike, as well as it’s higher price point — have been met with a tepid reception.

    “They always think that [emulating foreign brands like] Nike is good, and the high premium is justified,” wrote netizen Jayshijiujielun (Jay式纠结伦) on social media platform Xiaohongshu. “Domestic brands should sell at lower low prices. Plus, Nike is not that good now.”

    “The price has deviated from the original intention of Irving shoes, which is to be cheap so that everyone can wear them,” wrote another netizen Jerome. “Of course, he changed his mind later when he saw the money.”

    Anta’s global expansion has been underway for some time. In January 2024, Anta’s subsidiary Amer Sports, which owns Salomon and Arcteryx, submitted an IPO prospectus to US authorities, with plans to list on the New York Exchange.

    The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

    Additional research by William Zhou.

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