Payless ShoeSource Announces Availability of Iconic Above The Rim(R) Performance Basketball Shoes for Men and Kids

20-Year-Old Authentic Brand is Re-launched with Focus of Helping Players Rise Both On and Off the Court; Martell Webster of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Will Bynum of the Detroit Pistons Endorse Brand; Payless is Exclusive Mass Channel Retailer

Mar 01, 2011, 11:39 ET from Payless ShoeSource

TOPEKA, Kan., March 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- With the recent re-launch of the Above The Rim (ATR) brand late last year targeting young, passionate players with a compelling new brand message: Elevate Your Game. Elevate Your Team. Elevate Yourself, Payless ShoeSource announced today the availability of ATR branded basketball shoes at all Payless stores nationwide and Payless.com.

(Logo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20060627/CGTU040LOGO-b)

"The fresh position of the ATR brand with its new focus on supporting young, passionate basketball players to rise on and off the court is meaningful and relevant for today's youth," said LuAnn Via, CEO of Payless ShoeSource.  "ATR is more than a basketball brand -- its driving a new culture in basketball and in our communities -- and we at Payless are thrilled to be a part of that.  The fresh styling and technology of the Payless ATR collection combined with the credibility and heritage of this iconic basketball brand, its NBA player support, community outreach, and the affordable Payless price point, make this new footwear collection very exciting for shoppers."

Available now in men's and kids' starting at $40 (men's) and $35 (kids') a pair, all ATR shoes feature performance footwear technology including a compression-molded EVA mid-sole for superior cushioning and support, a high-grip outsole important for basketball's quick lateral moves and high-top support, as well as the latest colors and styling.  An expanded line is planned for this year's back-to-school season and each season Payless expects to refresh the ATR collection with new designs and colorations.

As part of the re-launch of the ATR brand, which is managed by Collective Licensing International, ATR has committed to supporting a roster of rising NBA players who demonstrate relentless commitment to their game, their teams and their communities. ATR has announced two players so far: Martell Webster of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Will Bynum of the Detroit Pistons.  Both players support the brand in community-based programs, as well as in product development, Payless in-store signage and in ATR's social media programs.  ATR expects to announce additional players to its roster during the upcoming season.  

The brand has also launched a youth leadership and development grant program, A.T.R. (Assisting The Rise) Project, where it will identify and support a growing group of community leaders from across the U.S. who are dedicated to mentoring and assisting the rise of young players in their communities.  These ambassadors help the players channel the passion that they have for the game of basketball into other important areas of their lives including education and community service. Selected ATR ambassadors -- such as coaches, after school program leaders or community leaders -- will be given funding from ATR to supply tools, as well as ATR performance basketball shoes provided by Payless, and additional resources to assist the youth they serve, encouraging them to rise to challenges on the court, in the classroom and in their communities.

The 2011 ATR ambassadors include: Bernard Bowen, New York City, with the group, Beyond Basketball; Tavio Hobson, Seattle, with the organization A Plus; and Charles "Chuck" Torres, out of Los Angeles, with the association he leads, Better Through Basketball.

Above The Rim History

Originally launched in 1989 by a former Division I college basketball player in San Diego, CA, Above The Rim took the basketball apparel market by storm with a fresh, unique look characterized by baggier shorts and tops designed to make taking jump shots easier. The brand became hugely popular with all levels of players including NBA, college, high school and street ball players, eventually selling to a major athletic footwear company in 1992. The brand launched its first footwear collection the same year and eventually aligned with major NBA talent, catapulting the brand's popularity. Today, Above The Rim is re-launching with a fresh identity and product direction, robust cause and athlete platforms and the support of an integrated marketing campaign including newly launched web site, social media channels and advertising campaign.

About Payless ShoeSource

Payless ShoeSource, Inc., a unit of Collective Brands, Inc., is the largest specialty family footwear retailer in the Western Hemisphere and is dedicated to democratizing fashion and design in footwear and accessories and inspiring fun, fashion possibilities for the family at a great value. As of the end of the third quarter 2010, the company operated nearly 4,500 stores.  In addition, customers can buy shoes over the Internet through Payless.com® at www.payless.com.

About Collective Licensing International, LLC

Collective Licensing International, LLC, a subsidiary of Collective Brands, Inc. (NYSE: PSS), was formed in January 2004 and is the owner and/or license operator of Airwalk(R), Above The Rim(R), Vision Street Wear(R), Clinch Gear(TM), STRIKEFORCE(TM), Sims(R), Lamar(R) and LTD(R), World Snowboarding Championships(TM) and Hind(R). Collective Licensing International is based in Englewood, Colorado. www.collectiveintl.com

SOURCE Payless ShoeSource



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