The line between professional athlete and professional gamer continues to blur: today shoe company K-Swiss announced a deal with e-sports group The Immortals to design a pair of custom sneakers for the club. The deal is believed to be the first of its kind. The Immortals is one of North America’s best-known e-sports groups, operating teams in games like Dota 2 and Clash Royale, as well as the Overwatch League’s Los Angeles Valiant.
Of course, professional gamers don’t need specially-designed shoes in the same way that an NBA star does, and so the deal is more about style than performance. K-Swiss describes the new kicks as a “lifestyle shoe.” Apparel is becoming an increasingly intense area of interest for e-sports teams looking for new revenue streams. League of Legends squad 100 Thieves, for instance, doubles as a streetwear brand, with jerseys that sell out nearly instantly. “E-sports is the new frontier of sports and entertainment, and this is another way for K-Swiss to contribute to culture in a progressive and modern way,” K-Swiss brand president Barney Waters said in a statement.
That said, the shoe company also says that it will be shadowing Immortals players at the team’s LA training facility in order to custom-design the new shoes for e-sports athletes. “K-Swiss designers will consider a professional gamer’s technical performance needs, such as the rising temperature in a shoe and movement of feet during a match,” the company explains. The process will be documented in an upcoming video series.
The final product will be available in December for $110.