AND1 is celebrating 25 years of the Tai Chi, one of the most revolutionary sneakers that has stamped an iconic time in not just basketball culture but also in hip-hop and art. The company re-released the original Tai Chi at Complex Con over the weekend as well as the electric Tai Chi mixtape. The sneaker has captivated a generation of people and remains one of the top 10 basketball sneakers to ever hit the marketplace.
We got an opportunity to chat with AND1 General Manager, John Scipio to talk about the 25th Anniversary and also speak on how iconic the shoe has been over the years. You can get into our exclusive interview with him below.
You guys are celebrating the Tai Chi 25th Anniversary, what makes this shoe so iconic?
Well you know I think when you look at the brand and what the brand represents as far as street-ballers. I think there’s no other product that is our statement level product more than the Tai Chi. Not just talking about it through the lens of the 2000 slam dunk contest where being worn by Vince Carter, it’s even more than that. I think If you look at that particular product, it embodies the brand. That’s what I think makes this such a special release because as we’re making our comeback as a brand to the marketplace particularly as far as the culture concerned what better product can be the platform for that, other than the Tai Chi?
It was said that you guys got so many request to bring back the original shoe, who reached out initially that made you guys say, we’re gonna bring them back?
I think it was a collective effort by the team, the team just kind of figured how we were going to say hey let’s make sure that as we’re are looking to re-energize what we’re doing in the marketplace what product do we have to align with, that can bring that level of energy? Going back to my earlier point I don’t think there was a better product for that than the Tai Chi. So I think as a team myself and the footwear team we kind of aligned on this being the product and this being the time to do it.
In your opinion, how has this shoe influenced basketball culture altogether?
I think if you look at basketball culture. the shoe is a representation of the brand. We know the influence that it’s had around basketball culture through not just the sport but kind of the combination between art and music specifically hip-hop bringing all of them together. I think that’s what the Tai Chi represents. It’s already bringing every component of the culture together not just through one lens. Solely looking through the lens of sports but everything that consumer is engaged in and is important to them.
Where do you rank the Tai Chi among some of the best sneakers?
I think it’s one of the Top 10. If you look at it through the lens and take into consideration I’ve been around the game for a long time so prior to being at And1, I was at Nike for 25 years. So I’ve seen basketball culture and I’ve been apart of it for a while and I’ve seen products so I think if you look at it. It’s right up there with you know, you got the Jordan product, other products from Nike like the Penny and things like that are really iconic and have really made those brands. I think this is our statement level product. This is our Air Force 1.
When someone see’s the Tai Chi for the first time, what would you like their first thought to be?
I think with anything that you put into the marketplace, the first thing needs to be the aesthetics associated because something that generates in you the emotion of it, is what propels you to buy it. So I think when they first see it, I want them to look at the lines and the beauty of it. I think it’s a great looking product. Then once they put it on they will feel the comfort level created with it, I think that pretty much ties it all together. Just like falling in love sometimes it happens just at a glance and we want that to be the emotion that is generated when people see the product.
Name one basketball player that you feel is a style icon?
All of them are creating that now, just seeing them walk into the arena. That’s become more about or as much about the game itself. You got Russell Westbrook, Lebron has changed his whole deal and how he’s showing up. The shorts with the suits, they’re creating an environment where people are daring to be more creative and to show forth their personality and I think that’s another way that And1 as a brand has influenced people. I remember back in the day when the mix-tape tours were going on and you had all of these outlandish kind of people. They were like they’re ruining the game but It was just these players being able to express themselves. Now you see that same level not just on the court but off the court as well. So it’s about expression and I love the fact that you might see patterns being mixed up, different textures of fabrics, sometimes fur being worn it’s just really interesting now seeing these cats walk into the arena.
Name one song that describes the Tai Chi 25th Anniversary?
That’s a difficult one because hip-hop is so diverse and there’s so many songs. The one hip-hop song I’d probably go with, maybe because this is my own personal favorite but we’ll go with DJ Khaled – All I Do Is Win. Because I think that’s what we want to do and what I like about that song is that it brings in a number of different artist. The fact that we’re able to bring old school players and mixing them with new school like Daryl Macon out of Arkansas now playing for the Dallas Mavericks, Devon Carter with the Memphis Grizzlies so it’s bringing that combination together and making great music, art and winning. So that’s what we’re about.
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