British Knights

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British Knights
Industry Sporting goods
Founded New York City, United States (1983)
Products Shoes
Owner(s) British Knights
Website www.britishknights.com

British Knights is a shoe company founded in 1983 by Jack Schwartz Shoes Inc, based in New York City. In the 1980s, British Knights distinguished themselves as an inner-city and music driven brand, appealing to the predominantly male youth in urban communities.[1]

History[edit]

British Knights was launched in 1983 as a casual shoe brand. In 1985 they introduced their first sneaker collection and sales exploded. In an environment where brands kept the same style in their line for years, British Knights was one of the first brands to recognize that the sneaker business was more about fashion than it was performance. By introducing a new collection three to four times a year, it became popular among 15-24 year old males in urban communities. The classic, “the shoe ain’t nothin’ without the BK button” became the brand’s mantra in reference to the diamond shaped BK logo plate which was on every shoe.[2]

Marketed as a fashion brand vs. a performance brand, British Knights was one of the first brands to utilize hip hop artists as endorsers, enlisting Kool Moe Dee for the brands introduction to TV. “How Ya Like Me Now” was broadcast on the worldwide music channel MTV.[3] The brand was also featured prominently in hip hop and dance music videos by artists such as Public Enemy, Technotronic and Beats International.[4]

In 1990 British Knights embarked on its biggest marketing push when they signed musician MC Hammer to a full endorsement deal. The biggest star in the music industry at that time, the Hammer phenomenon appealed to a broad audience. British Knights sponsored his tour, did in-store events and contests, in addition to the traditional television, print and radio media campaigns. An anti-drug campaign also featured him in a British Knights sponsored television spot. Awareness of the brand increased tremendously and the brand crossed over to a more mainstream market.[5]

Dymacel technology[edit]

British Knights introduced Dymacel, their first technology shoe in 1991. The technology consisted of diamond shaped green silicon cushioning embedded within a sole window. This was to effectively absorb shock by dispersing vertical impact energy into a horizonal plane while maximizing energy return. Dymacel maintains its memory after repeated compression.[6]

Athlete endorsements[edit]

In 1991, British Knights signed on their first professional athlete to endorse Dymacel - Derrick Coleman of the New Jersey Nets. Coleman was the number one draft pick in 1990, he won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1991 while playing for the Nets, and was chosen for the Dream Team II, which captured the gold medal at the World Championships in Toronto in 1994. He also played in the All-Star game that year. Coleman wore his BK Dymacel in all of these games, while appearing in TV, print and radio ads.[7]

In 1993 NBA player Lloyd Daniels from the San Antonio Spurs was signed to endorse the British Knights “Vengeance” – which was part of the Outdoor Dymacel Collection. Daniels, known as “Sweet Pea”, was featured in a national TV spot.

Marketing campaigns[edit]

  • 1987: “BK BK, Say What I Say"
  • 1987: “The Shoe Ain't Nothin’ Without The BK Button"
  • 1988: "How Ya Like Me Now!"
  • 1989: "Get Off On The Right Foot - Get Off In BKs"
  • 1992: "Choose Change"
  • 2014: "Artists Are The New Athletes"

Re-launch[edit]

In February 2014 British Knights re-launched with a series of collaborations. Along with its original owners Jack Schwartz Shoes Inc, the team behind this rebrand included designer and artist Darren Romanelli (“DRx”) who served as creative director and entrepreneur Scooter Braun of SB Projects, an entertainment and media company with ventures integrating music, film ,television, technology and philanthropy.[8]

British Knights took on a new slogan, "Artists are the new athletes." Tapping into the artistic minds from around the world, this new era of British Knights encompassed designs meant to inspire and motivate, while looking back on its legacy and pushing it into the future. Romanelli designed four new styles of the shoe that combined performance-level materials with streetwear aesthetics. Features included earth tone midtops with ribbed brown leather paneling and black and white hi-tops that incorporate the British flag.[9]

The first designs were unveiled on February 17, 2014 at Agenda in Las Vegas before officially going on sale March 15, 2014 at high-end retailers.[10]

US and EU distribution[edit]

In 1998, Jack Schwartz Shoes Inc. sold the British Knights trademarks in many territories to a European company that continued manufacturing British Knights footwear for Europe and South America. British Knights EU is not connected to the original American brand.[11]

In 2014, Jack Schwartz Shoes Inc. incorporated a new company, British Knights N.A (North America) and together with the help of some partners in the music and entertainment world, they revived the brand. British Knights N.A is run out of the Jack Schwartz Shoes Inc. office in New York City by the original family that launched the brand back in the 1980's.

References[edit]

External links[edit]