Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, is launching a clothing brand, Mambacita, in honor of her late daughter, Gigi. The brand name is in the representation of the nickname given to Gigi by father Kobe, whose nickname on the court was Black Mamba.
Bryant released the clothing line on May 1st in honor of what would have been Gigi’s 15th birthday. The Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe’s former team, tweeted out the launch of the brand on the late teen’s birthday.
Each item sold out within seconds of the launch, forcing the website selling the line to crash and post an “internal error.”
This news of the clothing launch comes after it was announced that the Bryant estate did not renew its contract with Nike, discontinuing Kobe Bryant’s sneaker collection with the sportswear juggernaut. This was the first of many athletes parting ways with Nike, as Simone Biles announced she was pairing up with the female-led Athleta brand after six years with Nike.
Josh Gerben, a trademark attorney, told NBC that Vanessa Bryant has filed multiple trademarking applications in an effort to build a brand around Kobe and Gigi’s name since May 2020. The Mambacita brand includes three trademarks: the name Mambacita, the unique M logo, and the number 2 inside of a heart logo.
Despite Bryant’s contract with Nike reaching expiration, the Swoosh company is still permitted to sell Kobe Bryant shoes that were in production prior to the termination date. There is set to be a new Kobe shoe launching this month centered about #24’s induction into the Hall of Fame.
The Bryant estate is looking to move forward with Kobe’s original plans to launch his own footwear line, Mamba. The line would be completely owned by NBA and WNBA players.
In a Twitter thread in late December, Shervin Pishevar, co-founder of Virgin Hyperloop, said that he met with Kobe weeks before he passed about his future business plans. He said he was planning on parting ways with Nike due to the dissatisfaction with the product rollout of his line of footwear.
There are skeptics more critical of the Bryant estate following through with the Mamba footwear brand in regards to creating and promoting a new brand without an athlete to be the face of it. And without a brand with loyal consumers like Nike backing the break-off brand, it will be interesting to see how Mamba can make a name for itself – without the iconic swoosh paired with it.
Vanessa Bryant posted an Instagram story after the news of the expiring Nike contract, saying that she is committed to allowing fans to wear Kobe’s brand for years to come. She added, “Kobe’s products sell out in seconds. That says everything.”
All proceeds from the Mambacita line will go directly to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, which helps fund sports programs in underserved communities.
Vanessa said that donating 100% of the proceeds is something Gigi would have been passionate about, as she was “especially motivated” to improve the way women in sports are perceived. “This capsule represents her values,” the Bryant widow wrote to Instagram.
The gesture of taking one brand and completely transforming it into a brand that Vanessa and Kobe once dreamt up together is an innovative approach to keep her late husband and daughter’s name in the spotlight, while also keeping the brand and legacy alive.
We will always remember Kobe and Gigi.