Since Nike made the decision to end its relationship with Kyrie Irving and discontinue his signature shoe after he shared the documentary "Hebrews To Negroes," many brands have reportedly reached out to his camp to attempt to lure him into joining them — Adidas, New Balance and PUMA to name a few.
During a postgame conference while discussing being a shoe company free agent, the lone company Irving has publicly acknowledged as a possibility was SIA Collective. In addition, he explained that he is not in a rush and wants to take his time to find the right place so he doesn’t duplicate a similar situation as the one he had with Nike, who he referred to as “that other brand.”
“Number one, I’m in no rush to make any business decisions right now…. I just want to take my time," Irving said on Dec. 28 after the Brooklyn Nets' win over the Atlanta Hawks. "In terms of SIA Collective — great brand, great brothers, great operation team behind the scenes. But again, I'm looking for a home where we can build a huge marketplace and I can have some ownership, and that takes time to build. So I’m willing to stay patient, but work with people that are willing to work with me.
“SIA Collective has been a great brand to converse with, but I don’t want to settle with one. I think I just want to keep my options open, look for ownership and enjoy the free agency for a little bit. It’s been a long time coming, and then, I think there are a lot of details that are going to come out in the future about what was actually going on. And I think once my platform is created, when I can do that, then we'll share that. But shout out to SIA Collective and everybody that's been recruiting me during the process. I’m appreciative. But I’m definitely not going to go back into a similar contract that I was in — or any type of situation or circumstance that I was in or similar to what I was at — with that other brand.”
Kyrie Irving was asked about his sneaker free agency & touched upon what went wrong with Nike— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) December 29, 2022
"There are a lot of details that are going to come out in the future about what was actually going on. I'm not going to go into a similar contract I was with at the other brand" pic.twitter.com/K8AUxOEXnh
Since then, many have been asking: Who is SIA Collective, and what are they about?
On the latest episode of the The Rematch, I had the opportunity to sit down with the founder of SIA Collective, Devlin Carter, who founded the company in 2019. SIA Collective, which stands for Somewhere in America, is an independent, Black-owned shoe and apparel company.
Almost immediately after Nike dropped the Nets star, Carter took to social media to make a public plea to Kyrie to sign with SIA Collective instead of Adidas or PUMA or New Balance or any of the other companies that have reached out following the Nike divorce. The main theme of his pitch is that he is open to offering Irving the very ownership that he expressed is his desire. In Carter's words: "When you have that nobody can drop you because they don’t agree with something you do or say.”
During our interview, Carter detailed his meeting with Kyrie’s entire team, and expressed why he feels SIA Collective would be the perfect fit for Irving.
Etan Thomas: So, you made the video initially after Nike decided to essentially drop Kyrie Irving making the plea to him to consider joining SIA Collective, and the response from the video was that a lot of people in the community started tagging Kyrie in your video to try to connect you with Kyrie, so walk us through what happened after that point.
Devlin Carter: :Sure. So after I made the video, I got a DM of Kyrie’s agent Shetellia Riley Irving saying, 'Hey, send me an e-mail at your earliest convenience.' So I sent the e-mail and they responded asking when I was available for a Zoom call. I responded, 'Whenever you guys are, I’m open. Whatever y’all want (laughing). We can do it right now if you want.'
"So we had it scheduled for Friday — not this Friday that just passed, but the prior Friday. So we had that set up, and in between that meeting, I also sent them a shoe that we’ve been working on called the EVO Bounce, which is a performance basketball shoe. So I sent them some images of it. I had my photo shop guy mock it up in a Brooklyn Nets design and put a No. 11 on it. And (Shetellia) hit me right back and asked, 'When could you get us this shoe?' So I explained to them that, right now, we were in the sole process. So we’re making the sole and adding the technology to it, but I said, 'As soon as we’re done, I’ll send you as many samples as you need.'"
Etan: So they had a quick response?
Carter: "Yes, and I can tell by how quickly they responded that they liked the design of the shoe. That’s one thing that I don’t have any issues or concerns about is my ability to design a dope looking basketball shoe for Kyrie. So then, from there, we had the meeting on the Zoom call, and it’s me, his agent Shetellia Riley Irving, Kyrie’s dad (Drederick) and another gentleman who is Kyrie’s brand manager. So we’re all on the Zoom and Shetellia is quarterbacking the call. And she tells the gentlemen to tell me about themselves, so basically, they’re pitching me. And I’m thinking, 'Wow, I think I should be pitching myself to y’all.'"
Etan: Right, right, but they’re telling you about who they are.
Carter: "Yeah. So Kyrie’s dad — super cool, super down to earth. He’s telling me how he worked in finance and is from the Bronx. And the brand manager told me how he started with Kyrie and (how) he used to work with Nike, but left Nike to work solely with Kyrie, and how he helps his sister (Asia) with her branding and whatnot. And Shetellia tells me how she worked at BET and launching Power 105.1 (in New York). And then, they asked me how I started, my whole background in fashion design. Then, they started pitching questions."