Available now in select Nike retailers is the Nike Air Entertainer, a shoe that many believe is a response/knock-off/mockery of Kanye West’s Nike Air Yeezy line. Prior to the reveal of the Air Entertainer, Kanye dropped the diss track “Facts” that basically goes in on the swoosh and the Jumpman with Street Fighter II samples. And before that, Nike has shown that they are more than willing to drop sneakers that reference color schemes that the Yeezy made famous such as the Pure Platinum, Solar Red and the Red October. To summarize, both sides have effectively gone back to high school with this petty s**t.
But Nike may have taken things to a whole new level with none other than Kevin Hart. Last night on the Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, Hart revealed that he was coming out with his own signature Nike cross trainer called the Hustle Harts. For the past several years now, Hart has used his celebrity to promote personal fitness and with Nike’s help, he has led 5k runs all across the country alongside thousands of fans and health nuts. Whether they are a seasoned runner or a first-timer doesn’t matter to Hart; what matters is that they are there and participating in this potentially life-changing experience. Hart is inclusive and wants everybody to be involved; it’s not too hard to imagine the Nike Hustle Harts being the same and releasing in mass quantities at a reasonable price. Meanwhile, Kanye’s wares (so far) have been exclusive to the highest order. See what’s happening here?
Kevin Hart has risen through the comedy ranks by being risk-averse. That doesn’t mean his many (and there’s many) shows lack punch or good humor; it just means that he doesn’t put himself out there with super controversial statements that might alienate potential customers for his movies and stand-up tours. It’s kind of like the comedy equivalent of “Republicans buy shoes too.” He doesn’t waste time holding grudges against people, and he is so busy that the only thing he can do outside of being a successful comedian and a father is to work out. Nike must really love this guy.
Meanwhile, Kanye has spent his entire career with a chip on his shoulder. That applies to his music and his drive to be better and his status in the sneaker and fashion world where he won’t stop until he’s at “Ralph level.” Maybe Nike sees the same things that those who are not Kanye stans sees: West has huge appeal to a limited audience and once it crosses over to the mainstream, his Yeezys are nothing more than curiosities that will bomb if produced like a general release. But because Hart is all about the athletes and the people who didn’t even realize they were athletes and everyone in between, Nike might feel that his Hustle Harts with their more conventional style and ready for a workout look is a better fit and a better sell for the brand.
As of right now, it’s unclear if the Hustle Harts is actually going to drop at retail since it is still in a prototype phase according to Hart. But if it does release, I’m guessing Nike will make a few more pairs than the Yeezys. Just a hunch…