BrandBlack is new to the scene but the people behind the brand aren’t. The owner of the company has worked for some of the largest sneaker companies in the U.S. – during the height of those brands’ existence no less. Responsible for the FILA Grant Hill – now known as the FILA ’96 – and with an extensive stay at adidas Basketball; the brand may be new to you, but building high performing sneakers is in their blood.
The brand itself focuses on putting out the best performance product they possibly can while maintaining a high fashion sense of style. Not a new idea but it’s probably never been executed this smoothly.
Cushion – BrandBlack uses what they call Jetlon. Their description of the foam cushion is as follows; Ultra-light energy recovery polymer. Engineered & tested for the extreme forces generated by elite basketball players.
It’s definitely light and has a higher rebound rate than standard foam such as Phylon and EVA. It’ll also last longer without bottoming out. I think it has a higher rubber content as there is a slight bounce you receive once the foam is broken-in. You’ll receive adequate impact protection without sacrificing court feel or stability, perfect for any player that wishes to be light on their feet but still protected. I won’t go so far as to say I prefer it over Micro G or Lunarlon but I did enjoy it quite a bit… especially after going from Air based cushions back to the Raptor Low. That was the night I thought, “damn, these are legit”.
Materials – I loved the materials. Reminded me of the Rose 3, with the premium synthetic leather uppers. If you want a shoe that plays and breaks in like leather but retains is shape the way a Fuse or TPU based upper would then you’ll want to try these out. If you prefer leathers over premium synthetics then you can get that as well with the Phantom. One drawback from using premium materials – even if they are synthetics – is that they will show wear and tear. However, these still look good thanks to the little rubber nodules placed along the side panels. The rubber is scuffed but its not super noticeable and its protected the upper from abrasion nicely. Its not something I’d say ‘needs’ to be there but they’ve opted for the high fashion with function approach and it worked. The rubber side panels are only featured on the Raptor and not the J. Crossover version so keep that in mind if you’re trying to decide between the two.
Fit – They fit true to size, slightly snug but a comfortable and contained type of snug. The best way I can describe the fit is by comparing it to the Nike Zoom Kobe 5. For those that don’t know, the Kobe 5, in my opinion, is one of the best fitting sneakers of all time. Yes, the Air Jordan 19 is one as well but that’s because of all the straps, these and Kobe’s just utilize a great last that allows the shoe to wrap around your foot so nicely that its like wearing a second skin. Lockdown was also great, zero complaints and I was rocking with the lows. If you want something higher for whatever reason then the higher cut models will take care of you for sure.
Ventilation – There isn’t any… at all. I would’ve removed the little rubber nodules from the toe box and used perforations instead. Even though they use a moisture wicking liner, the amount of moisture buildup you’ll have makes it nearly pointless. But, the liner and footbed are no-slip liners so luckily the great fit in addition to this feature allowed me to play for hours comfortably… without blisters.
Support – Their support is definitely adequate. Basic features are used, TPU shank being one of them, which works well. I love when shoes are flat on the bottom so you don’t feel unstable at all. That’s probably my one complaint whenever I wear something with pods on the base of the shoe… since you have to get used to the feeling before being 100% comfortable with the setup. With these, you’ll being able to lace them up and get to work.
Overall – I listed them as my #3 shoe of the year – so far – which should show you how much I enjoy playing in them. I’ve been dying to play in the silver J. Crossover pair that I have sitting in their box but I’ve been determined to leave my other two pairs in DS (brand new) condition as I plan on giving them away to local players so they can experience the same awesomeness that I was able to.
If you wanted to try them out for yourself and see what BrandBlack has to offer the basketball world then I do recommend trying them out – you can grab a pair at BrandBlack.com. I do wish the Raptor was priced slightly lower than the J. Crossover PE branded pairs but that’s not a knock on the shoe’s performance… just a random thought that pops into my head when I begin to over analyze things. If you end up trying them out yourself, be sure to come back and leave your thoughts on the shoe in the comment section; things you liked or maybe disliked.
Thanks for watching and reading… until next time…