F1: K-Swiss & McLaren Racing Partner in Groundbreaking Multiyear Deal

Formula 1 is so popular with advertisers, sponsors and manufacturers today that everyone wants to be connected to either F1 the series, an F1 team, an F1 driver, or an F1 circuit.

With over 75 million TV viewers per race globally, 50+% of which are in the important 18-49 year old age bracket, F1 delivers the reach companies want while all other racing series are aging out with an old fan base riding on grandpa’s coattails.

In an exclusive partnership, athletic brand K-Swiss and McLaren Racing have teamed up on a multiyear deal that marks a series of firsts for both companies. Best known as a heritage tennis label, K-Swiss will venture into Formula 1 racing for the first time — and for McLaren, this marks its first footwear partnership.

“For me, the biggest opportunity is reaching a new consumer by offering an exciting collaboration from two iconic brands and building a true global partnership,” K-Swiss international brand president Dave Grange told FN.

By working with McLaren — which has one of the largest fan bases in F1 with roughly 351 million, plus 5 billion social impressions per year — K-Swiss is looking to grow its audience through an elevated collection of footwear and apparel.

“We are both heritage brands with a 57- and 60-year history in performance sport, and we have a clear brand connection and synergy,” said Grange.

Grange noted, “I also feel McLaren is very aspirational and premium, both in F1 and their supercar division.” To that end, he said their first collection drop will be targeted to the high-end consumer.

(L-R): K-Swiss’ Brian Keating, Anna Amador & Dave Grange

And the shoes will come with a performance guarantee. Lindsey Eckhouse, director of licensing, e-commerce and e-sports at McLaren Racing said the team’s crew and engineers have been wear-testing the product.

“Creating a shoe for our race team is a huge cornerstone of the partnership,” she said. “It was really about incorporating our race team’s feedback so that we could create the right shoe for them, but also leaning into that [K-Swiss] heritage and lifestyle so we can offer something to our fans that we’ve never been able to offer before.”

“We’re doing a mix of performance products and also heritage products that have been stylized, materialized and colored for McLaren to align with the values of the brand,” said Brian Keating, VP of product design at K-Swiss. “A lot of people think of McLaren as expensive, super premium and exotic. So we wanted products that reflect that, too. We are also making products for McLaren that have their own unique technologies.”

Fans of the racing team can expect looks in its signature papaya orange colorway, as well as lifestyle silhouettes filled with neutrals. All styles will have recognizable K-Swiss branding such as its traditional five stripes, for instance, along with the McLaren F1 racing team logo, as well as K-Swiss’ patented Tubes technology.

Details of a K-Swiss x McLaren Racing sneaker style.

“We can bring such a strong story together through different channels with this partnership,” Eckhouse said, noting that McLaren drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris will also be wearing the shoes.

“Eventually, we would look at bringing some of their design tones into what we’re creating with K-Swiss as they’re huge assets for us in driving visibility of the partnership.”

She added, “We can take advantage of K-Swiss’ distribution network and their channel marketing and some of their retail relationships. So that if somebody doesn’t know as much about McLaren and they get excited about the product, it’s a really powerful way to come into the sport.”

“These tentpole moments are where we align,” explained K-Swiss’ VP of marketing, Anna Amador. “If everyone is involved and everyone is amplifying and rallying around a race, we can leverage that. It offers us a bigger stage to connect with consumers and to sell to consumers.”

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