Zensah x Justin Holiday Interview with BBALL University
March 30, 20215 min read
Zensah had the pleasure of talking with Spencer Young, the creator of BBALL University. He is featured a Top Writer for the NBA and Sports sections on medium.com, as well as having work republished on Bleacher Report, among others. Read more about who Zensah is and insights on our new partnership with NBA player, Justin Holiday!
Let’s start from the top. What is Zensah, and what do they do?
Zensah is a premium compression apparel brand known for quality and innovation. The company was started in 2004 and was one of the first brands producing seamless sportswear at the very beginning of when the technology hit the market. The name of the company comes from the Italian word “SENZA, meaning “to be without,” and this is a foundational and fundamental belief of the company - that athletes should be without limits.
Elaborate on Zensah’s journey to becoming a prominent player in the sports compression industry. It’s no secret that the NBA’s apparel is dominated by a few major sportswear brands, so how is it that a smaller company was able to burst onto the sportswear scene of the NBA?
Zensah was really one of the pioneers, the first of only a handful of companies working in compression. And since then we’ve built relationships based on the dependability of the products that have carried us until today. Still, one of the reasons we felt Justin Holiday was a great fit as our first NBA partner in 16 years was because of his story of being undrafted and having to really earn his place in the NBA after being doubted. Zensah too feels like an underdog at times, having to fight for our place within the industry. Sometimes it can feel like a David and Goliath scenario, going up against these huge corporations. But we know that we have products that people trust and we’ve worked for over 15 years building that trust, within an organization like the NBA and to our average customers on the street. We’ve been on the scene and we’re going to continue to stay on the scene and get more recognition as a brand who is here to stay.
Performance is everything in today’s NBA: every player seeks a competitive advantage to push them over the top. What does Zensah’s compression do for athletes like Justin Holiday?
There’s no question that compression provides benefits to professional players and athletes. It’s essential. Especially since those players are expected to put in 100% every single game and recover as quickly as possible to stay in peak condition. Justin himself told us just how important recovery is for him, explaining, “Recovery is so important to professional athletes. Finding new and better ways to recover is crucial to playing successfully in every game and throughout the season.” Justin also explained to us how grueling his time in the overseas leagues was for him physically, “When I finally joined the NBA, I just got finished playing 38 minutes a game in the D league so I was exhausted. My first game, I played 6 minutes in the game, I took 6 shots and I missed all of them. But I was ultra-aggressive, because I wanted to stand out and show that I belonged.” We also appreciate Justin’s story of using his skill to fight his way to his rightful place in the NBA, and if Zensah compression was at all a part of that journey, we call ourselves lucky. Zensah’s compression products are known for their durability, but also comfort. The seamless technology and moisture-wicking fabric helps players like Justin to keep from overheating in games. Justin wears our base layer tights (made in Italy) almost exclusively and we believe the quality is why players like him choose Zensah again and again.
A common cliché in the NBA is that especially come playoff time, recovery is the king. What specific products does Zensah have to help athletes recover, and what advantages might those products bring to an athlete?
Yes, recovery is a huge focus for Zensah. And we are focusing on recovery as part of a greater campaign centered on changing the attitudes of the industry around the use of heat for recovery. The long-held method of “RICE,” (the acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) has been shown to be wholly invalidated and heat has been shown to be actually more suitable for an accelerated and more effective recovery. Zensah as a brand and a voice in the industry is looking to educate the public around the importance of heat, instead of ice, to recovery. By relying on solid science, rather than anecdotal evidence, thoughts around how to recover most effectively are changing. Just a few weeks ago we released a product that utilizes this idea, it’s called the Heat Recovery Sock. The Heat Recovery Sock uses a more subtle form of heat than the average person might typically imagine. Rather than directly applying heat, as in a heating pad, the heat in the product is delivered in the form of Far Infrared Rays. The fabric transforms the energy generated by the body into FIRs, which are emitted directly into muscle tissue. We’ve seen a huge response to this product, but also to the new and cutting-edge technology we’ve put into it.
Talk about your giveaway with Justin Holiday’s first NBA Top Shot moment. What is NBA Top Shot, and what are your thoughts on its future in the NBA world?
NBA Top Shot is, at its most basic, digital basketball trading cards. Zensah, as a company, is known for innovating, and being an early adaptor of new tech, so we jumped on Top Shot at the beginning of the crazy. But also, we could see the immense value in NFTs for the future of commerce. Gamification of commerce, creating scarcity, and owning a digital piece of sports history is all part of a greater lesson of the immense capacity that NFTs could have, not only for the NBA, but for D2C commerce in general. Creating digital pieces that people can own in the internet space could have huge implications for brands that sell physically, as well. We’re currently thinking a lot about this aspect of how it shifts our markets and how our customers could benefit from having NFTs, and specially-made pieces alongside NFTs. Also, as part of the comprehensive creative marketing we’re going to be giving away three moments from Justin Holiday’s base set. The drawings for the moments will take place at 4:30 EST every Friday for the first 3 weeks in April from those fans who have entered to win.
We’ve seen players like Allen Iverson, and more recently, Kyrie Irving, catch the eye of fans for wearing custom, branded accessories like socks and shooting sleeves. Is that something we can expect from Justin Holiday in the future?
Absolutely, yes. Justin is already a fan of a lot of our products and we’re looking to do more with him on the product level. We are already working to create some pieces that speak to his style and performance needs. We have a lot more surprises coming. Our arm sleeves are also popular across professional sports and, without giving too much away, we do have relationships with MLB and NFL teams who wear our products as well. They’ve become an iconic part of basketball style so
Elaborate on what fans might expect in the future from Zensah? More partnerships? More giveaways?
We’re lucky to have Justin as a face and a partner and we’re definitely going to make use of that and we’ve already begun working on a few custom products with him.
Also, have you heard? We are giving away THREE of Justin Holiday's Top Shot Moments. Sign up below and find more information HERE.