Brandblack – A Conversation with David Raysse and #ADifferentWayToFly

Historically, Black has been the color of “premium” and “power”. When a man wears a black suit, it gives off an air of sophistication and authority. Brandblack is cementing it’s place in the world of performance footwear by creating a premium, aesthetically pleasing product, that is still functional at the highest level of competition.

Brandblack debuted in November of 2013, and has proven itself a worthy competitor in the performance basketball category, reaching the top five performance basketball shoes on well-known YouTuber Nightwing2303’s list for 2014. Brandblack is poised for another year of growth, as they get set to announce the official release date of the JCrossover 2, along with the Force Vector basketball and running performance sneakers, and the addition of the Rocket, alongside the apparel of the Future Legends collection.

Several weeks ago, I put out an article about the up-and-coming sneaker company and the latest signature basketball model for Jamal Crawford. This past week, I was able to speak with David Raysse, founder and owner of Brandblack, about some of their upcoming products, including the JCrossover 2, and got a sense of who Brandblack is, their vision, and what inspires the footwear Brandblack creates.



Pictured here: The JCrossover 1


Pictured here: the JCrossover 2

Brandblack released the Jamal Crawford sneaker, the JCrossover, back when they debuted in 2013. The shoe was fantastic, and is totally unique to what you are accustomed to seeing now. When considering the flaws of the first Jamal Crawford signature, the biggest blemish was the poor ventilation. In fact, they received a zero out of ten on Nightwing2303’s performance rating for ventilation. In looking for ways to provide better ventilation on the second signature shoe, David and his design team decided to incorporate a knit upper. The knitted material allows for better ventilation and does not sacrifice any support, using threads coated in thermoplastic urethane throughout the knit portion to aid in the fit and support of the sneaker. This knit upper also allows for little-to-no break-in time, which is important, since Jamal Crawford is known for wearing one pair of shoes over an entire season.

The incorporation of the heel piece in the JCrossover 2, as I found out, was not because an all knit upper would be less rigid and supportive. In fact, David pointed out that they were fully capable of doing a complete knit upper for a basketball shoe that could be supportive. However, with David’s focus on overall design aesthetic, the ankle collar and overall armor-esque feel of the back portion of the upper was the perfect place for structure on the shoe. The parametric patterning finishes off the shoe in a minimalistic way. David draws a lot of inspiration from architecture, and one of his favorite architects incorporates a similar style of patterning to the outside of buildings for an added dimension and perspective. David wanted the shoe to inspire awe from every angle without taking away from the overall look of the shoe, and this patterning does just that.


Pictured here: The Force Vector basketball model


Pictured here: The Force Vector Runner courtesy of drewruiz

The Force Vector is a model that comes both in the form of a running shoe and a performance basketball shoe. Aside from the technical leather uppers and parametric patterning seen on the JCrossover 2 and previous Brandblack models, the main feature of the Force Vector models is the retooled midsole and outsole. The concept of limited-slip differentials can be found in automobiles. To put it simply, a limited-slip differential is the idea of redistrbuting torque when a tire, or tires, are losing grip on a surface (i.e. when one tire is stuck in mud, on ice, or even when a car makes a turn). This inspired a reworking of the torsional support in athletic footwear, taking the TPU shank, essentially splitting it in two, and creating “wings” on the sides of the sneaker. This allows Brandblack to create a softer midsole while keeping the rigidity and torsional support you get from a traditional shank plate. All this should have a huge impact on traction on all playing surfaces, just like the technology that inspired it.


Pictured here: The Jet


Pictured here: The Rocket

David voiced some frustration over the limited availability of a simple casual shoe that was devoid of “noise”. He pointed specifically to a Common Projects  sneaker, saying that was the kind of sneaker he had clamored for and always wanted. In came the Jet and it’s mid-cut brother, the Rocket. With the premium materials that you see on high fashion designer sneakers, the simple silhouettes complete any look, and take on the “minimalistic” side of Brandblack’s vision to an extreme. However, the technology is still evident. Even though these shoes are Brandblack’s least technical shoe, they decided to incorporate a full-length, nitrogen filled air unit. In addition, the fit and feel of the Jet and Rocket will make you believe that the shoes were meant for the hardwood (although, David highly advises that you don’t). The Rocket continues Brandblack’s model of excellence in any and all footwear they do.


Photo from Future Legends lookbook

Not only is Brandblack pushing the technical limits of sneakers, but they are also releasing a line of apparel that will incorporate the “future forward” approach. The name of the collection is not an arrogant cry of the brands arrival, but rather a mantra the designers have taken that  Future Legends is Brandblack’s first collection of apparel and footwear, inspired by this David Bowie track from his album “Diamond Dogs”. With the help of Senior Apparel Designer Scott Nelson, who is well-known for his work with Mike23, the collection is set to complete the look of the Brandblack basketballer of the future. Moisture-wicking t-shirts, along with a four-way stretch nylon windbreaker and heather grey sweatshirts with spacer mesh is just a small sample of what Brandblack will have to offer in this 15-piece collection. Spacer mesh used as the body of an apparel piece is something David and his creative director Billy Dill had seen in Tokyo, and was something they wanted to incorporate into their pieces for the Future Legends collection. Its this type of experimentation that allows Brandblack to break down traditional thinking and encourage us to see “A Different Way to Fly” with footwear and apparel. A small part of the collection will be available for purchase when the JCrossover 2 releases later this year, with the full collection available in early 2015.

Check out Brandblack’s website for more information about their current models, and also check out their blog for all the latest information. They do have an online store, where you can purchase previously released footwear and apparel. Brandblack is also available for purchase at select retailers (click here to see where), although David hinted at a wider retail release in the near future as well. We are also anticipating a release date for the JCrossover 2’s to come this week, so keep a tab open in your browser for, and stayed tuned for more from Brandblack.


Sources: drewruiz/ via Common Projects