Former Nike Executive, Eli Kumekpor, To Take Over As CEO Of Mitchell & Ness
Eli Kumekpor is leaving his role at sportswear giant Nike to take over the reins of the popular lifestyle brand, Mitchell & Ness. Hoping to reinvent itself as more than just the go-to shop for vintage jersey and sports merchandise, the company and its new ownership –which includes Jay-Z, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Kevin Hart – has a whole new game plan.
Kumekpor sees Mitchell & Ness as existing at the intersection of sports, culture, lifestyle, and fashion; something his previous perches at Nike and the Jordan Brand executed seamlessly.
“There’s an opportunity served through the lens of vintage and the retired player base, but I think as we look at our partnerships, how do we now expand the footprint of that?” he said. “We want to serve that entire continuum from nostalgia and beyond, and that includes looking at opportunities with active rosters and active players.”
Mitchell & Ness’ acquisition by Fan Gear store, Fanatics, helped the company notch a valuation of $300 million and annual growth of 30% in 2022, according to CNBC. New licensing deals with both the NHL and the MLB further expanded their domination as the one-stop shop of sports fans looking to hold close the classic memories made by their favorite teams and players. Hhowever, Kumekpor knows that hedging all of a brand’s bets on the power of “the good ole days” is a slippery slope.
“How do you take the old and make it new and fresh again,” he said, in reference to the work the Jordan Brand has done in harnessing the power of their beloved, iconic sneakers. “Nostalgia means a lot of different things to different consumer groups, so we want to make sure we’re keeping the brand premium.”
Along with overseeing the reported $6.59 billion in sales that the Jordan Brand brought in over the last five years as global vice president and general manager of men’s products, Eli Kumekpor was also co-chair of the Nike Black Employee Network.