Black-Owned Shoe Company ‘SIA Collective’ Is Changing The Sneaker Game, Gaining The Attention Of Kyrie Irving

Devlin Carter started his company, SIA Collective, in 2019, and it has grown into a multimillion-dollar brand. Years earlier, after realizing he could use social media to sell his product, the decision to start the company was a no-brainer, according to an interview Carter did with NBC News.

SIA Collective (which stands for Somewhere In America) received massive publicity after the saga and suspension of former Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving. While embroiled in a controversy that started when the New Jersey-bred basketball player tweeted a link to Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America! There was an outcry about the controversial film, deemed anti-Semitic. Nike decided to cut ties with Irving because of everything surrounding the suspension that arose from Irving’s initial refusal to apologize for tweeting the documentary.

After the sportswear company announced it had terminated the endorsement contract with Irving, there was talk of Irving meeting with Carter to discuss a partnership to produce a signature sneaker.

At the time, Carter said that a potential deal between Irving and a Black-owned company like SIA Collective could change “how young Black athletes look at endorsement deals moving forward. It would show they don’t have to be locked into a deal and not feel like they are property. They can take ownership of their off-the-court game.”

But many years before that, Carter had the chance to make his own footwear since his mother was a seamstress. However, because society didn’t see a man using a sewing machine as a masculine trait, Carter allowed that thought to prevent him from utilizing the sewing machine at a younger age.

However, instead of allowing that form of thinking to direct his trajectory, he chose to tap Augusto Cerrone (born in Italy before making his way to America in his younger years), who owns American Shoe Repair in Queens, New York, to mentor him in using the sewing machine.

“I learned a lot from him,” Carter said. “He gave me access, taught me. It was what I needed.”

Being stationed (as a member of the US Coast Guard) in New York in 2011, Carter grew his social media following as he worked daily at producing new shoe concepts.

“The way to stand out was to produce more than anyone else,” he said about competing with other independent brands seeking to break through. “So, when my competition was doing one shoe a month or every week, I was creating new shoes every day, sewing materials on shoes, something no one else was doing.”

After leaving the Coast Guard in 2014, he went to the Fashion Institute for Design and Merchandising in San Francisco to hone his skills. After he recreated the Curry 6 shoe (after Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry), Under Armour offered him a sneaker designer job. He became a consultant while running a retail store in Oakland.

After receiving an email from another Black man who also attended the Fashion Institute for Design and Merchandising, they decided to work together, and SIA Collective was born.

Presently, the company brings in at least $25 million annually, and Carter states there is no money spent on advertising. The company receives sales through social media and word of mouth.