Juan Martinez

Last week, ANTA invited a handful of sneaker journalists from all over the country to witness the launch of the ANTA KT1, Klay Thompson’s first (but not actual first shoe with the brand because he’s had a few prior to this) signature shoe. The event would take place in the heart of San Francisco, where Golden State Warriors fandom is at a fever pitch right now. It was an interesting 13 or so hours in the Bay Area to say the least so here’s a rundown of what went down on that day.

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The Arrival

10:17 am – How is it possible that seemingly every airport in the country looks better than LAX? SFO is another one on that list as I arrived to a display of Super Bowl memorabilia (Levi’s Stadium will host Super Bowl 50 in February) that includes my personal favorite football memory, the Niners beating the crap out of the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX.

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10:44 – It pays to have this vehicle pass in downtown San Francisco because holy crap, parking there is insane and insanely expensive.

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11:08 – We get to downtown but since I had an hour and half to kill before the bus arrived to take us to the event, I walked around the city. Good thing I layered up because it was cold in downtown that day. Thankfully it was sunny though as I got to see Union Square and a whole bunch of goodness that makes San Francisco the anti-Los Angeles (meaning it’s packed in and close whereas LA is a giant sprawl).

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11:27 – Found Snoop. What?

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12:01 PM – As a profound fan of all things Peanuts, I will need this set-up at my house next Christmas.

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12:29 – Fun fact: I don’t own any ANTA shoes, but because I didn’t want to be that guy and just rock retros like a tool, I chose to undeadstock my first pair of Diadoras just to maintain a lowkey presence.

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The Event

12:59 – Here is our bus to the event. If there’s one thing I learned from the event, it’s that San Francisco really need to fix their roads. And I live in Los Angeles so that’s saying something.

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1:25 – I can’t even remember the last time I was at the Presidio Observation area and I definitely don’t remember the view being this nice. ANTA is off to a nice start with the presentation, although you kind of got the feeling everything was being put together at the last minute.

1:48 – Our first in-person look at the ANTA KT1. We’ve got Home, Away and Christmas colorways on display. And a locker too. I hope ANTA doesn’t send us home with these lockers because that would be weird trying to check in at the airport.

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1:52 – On-feet look at the Road colorway (which according to ANTA PR was the rarer of the two they were giving to media)

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2:08 – Trying to get that Body Armor money.

2:35 – The event begins and while there are only a few US media on-hand, there is a huge throng of Chinese media that flew in as part of the festivities.

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2:52 – Klay poses with a young fan. Say what you want about Klay’s enthusiasm about all things in general it seems (he’s chill like the wind chill at that moment), but he lit up when he saw the kid in his jersey and when they snapped a pic.

2:57 – Klay shoots around with the media. Made a few in a row but of course, he caught the times that he missed for this Vine because we’re jerks with bad timing…

The Interview (Kinda…)

3:10 – With so many Chinese media on hand, we only had a brief chance to talk to Klay about the shoe. Ah well, we’ll take what we can. Yes, I was still cold from outside in this interview. I’m built for tropical weather, sue me…

The Game

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4:18 – In a move that was not unlike what we had for the Under Armour Curry launch, we shot some hoops at a local school for a few hours and got to try on the shoes in action.

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5:08 – A game broke out between US and Chinese media. I wonder if the person who wrote the “East” and “West” signs on the court knew what that it would turn into global warfare. I didn’t play because I didn’t bring a change of clothes and I didn’t want to be that guy who stunk up dinner and the subsequent plane ride home later that night.

As for impressions of the shoe itself, it’s definitely a “you get what you pay for” kind of scenario. For those who are freaked out by the fact that this is a Chinese brand, know that at least with the KT1, ANTA tried to quell those fears. With a $100 price tag, you get a shoe with a herringbone traction pattern with decent cushioning (they don’t compare to Lunars or Boosts) and a stiff upper that gets slightly better as you wear them. Do they compare favorably to other shoes of that price point? Yes, although you might find better options if you look around, especially when top of the line Nikes and adidas drop in price so quick these days. However, if you are a fan of Klay Thompson and are looking for something a little bit different to stand out from the crowd, you won’t be disappointed with the KT1. And that’s really a great first step for ANTA.

Dinner

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7:13 – Our night concludes with a trip to the bay and dinner at a fancy seafood restaurant. This is when ANTA execs let loose and have a good time as they reflect on the past few days and how it has been unlike anything they have ever done in the US. It was a good job and good effort on their part and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for the next thing, which may or may not take place in US soil.

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10:18 – And now the worst part of the trip, the ride home. This was SFO at night. There was a logjam that held us up in this area for several minutes and it took a long time for us to snake through the traffic just to get to my terminal. I made it to my plane with literally less than a minute to go before they closed the door. And if you’re wondering if I got death stares for being that guy who delayed the flight, I had to explain to the jerk who I sat next to who was pissed I came in late that I was busy interviewing Klay Thompson. That shut him up real fast. But yeah, good times…

The ANTA KT1 is already available online and several Champs Sports stores in the Bay Area are stocking them (call for availability).

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