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The Way of Wade

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Dwyane Wade recently announced the upcoming release of his newest signature shoe, Way of Wade 6, with Chinese sneaker brand Li-Ning. The first images of the WoW 6 were posted by Wade himself, on his Instagram page.

6️⃣ #wow6

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Five years ago when Wade announced his endorsement deal with Li-Ning, the common consensus seemed to be that the then Miami superstar was crazy. After experimenting with Converse, who had given him his own signature shoe by his third season in the league, Wade had finally landed with a true sneaker giant. But after just three years with the Jordan Brand, Dwyane again decided to shake things up, and go his own way.

Ditching the biggest most recognizable shoe brand in the world for a relatively unknown Chinese sportswear company might seem like an absurd move to make, but only if you don’t know Dwyane Wade. His entire career, he has been visibly trying to forge his own path and create his own empire.

You may be familiar with Stance socks now, as they are the official outfitter for all 30 NBA teams. But the 2009 start-up didn’t start earning basketball recognition until they signed Dwyane Wade as their first sponsored athlete. Only Wade’s deal wasn’t for basketball socks, instead, he created his own line of dress socks. He was the first athlete to sign a sock deal completely separate from his shoe deal.

In addition to the socks, Wade has a fashion deal with Tie Bar. Not surprisingly, he is the only professional athlete with his own line of ties. Dwyane also has a partnership with Mission brand clothing, where he is the only sponsored NBA player but the second most recognizable athlete partner – behind tennis icon Serena Williams. Recently Wade released his own capsule collection with DSquared2, featuring a suit + shorts ensemble that fits Dwyane’s personal style to a T. And to top it off, Wade has now teamed up with Amazon Fashion, giving him yet another outlet to market his many clothing lines.

“What you’re trying to do is set up a brand that is lifelong, like Michael Jordan,” Wade says. Not many athletes have the creativity and the individuality to turn the prime of their career into a starting point of a lifelong branding mission. But that’s precisely the path Wade chose for himself. “At that moment, I started thinking differently. I started thinking about life after. I started thinking about what moves I can make, what positions can I put myself in to give myself an opportunity.”

All of these unique sponsorship deals culminate to create the Dwyane Wade brand, as it is. A brand that he has been meticulously plotting and building for the last decade. LaVar Ball has gained fame and notoriety, in part, because of his attempt to create his own brand for his family, and his basketball playing sons. But for the better part of his career, Wade has been doing the same, just a little more under the radar.
“I’m very open with my kids,” Dwyane said. “I sat down with my son … I told him I was building a brand. I’m building a Wade brand. I’m building it for you to take over. You won’t have to come into it new like the Balls’ are doing. I’ve already gone through 10 years of the bullcrap.” Much like the moves Wade has made his entire career, the foresight to begin building a family brand, at the age of 27, is truly revolutionary.

Wade’s oldest son Zaire, who is now 15, dreams of being a professional basketball player himself one day. Dwyane continued, about his Wade brand, to jokingly say, “So I let him know, I will sign you to a shoe contract…if you’re good enough”.

About Preston Dubey

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