Premium Craftsmanship Is Key Focus of Soccer Upstart UnoZero.
What’s in a name? For Miami-based UnoZero, it’s all about the rich history of soccer and the game’s greats who have donned the number 10 over the seasons — ranging from Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona to Italy’s Roberto Baggio, England’s Wayne Rooney to the great Pelè himself.
Sam Garzón, a Venezuelan native with a professional background in engineering and entrepreneurship, has had a lifelong relationship with the game from an early age when he played competitively and received offers to play for the youth squads of some of his country’s professional soccer teams.
“I continue to play today,” he reports. “Soccer for me is more than just a sport. It’s a lifestyle on and off the pitch,” adds Garzón, who founded the UnoZero brand, he says, to fill a market void in the soccer boot category dominated by the likes of Adidas, Puma and Nike.
As a child, he always looked forward to his soccer cleat purchase and the brand he chose to don for the season ahead until he started seeing his four-year old cousin and grandmother wearing the same brands on their pajamas and slippers.
“At that point, I realized there weren’t true soccer brands. They all felt very diluted,” Garzón remembers, “Here at UnoZero, these are referred to as ‘everything to everyone’ brands.” Two decades later as a 20-something, Garzón’s soccer-buying experience –where the local specialty shop only offered synthetic styles in either lime green or red—made him realize “that players like me weren’t being catered to and there was an opportunity.”
Enter UnoZero. The brand has launched with a single soccer cleat (aka soccer boot) style that may eventually expand to other products used in the game. For now, however, the singular focus is a handcrafted in Italy boot of kangaroo leather built on a modern last with a modern sole plate. It retails for $295 and is sold largely through the company’s website but also at specialty U.S. soccer shops in Florida, Michigan, New York/New Jersey, Arizona and Texas with further expansion on the horizon. With their purchase, players receive a soccer bag and a leather crème to help retain the upper’s suppleness.
“We focus on the craftsmanship and quality of product, not ‘speed’ like other brands,” proclaims Garzón. “We promise to give you, the player, an honest boot that lets you play at your unique level with no gimmicks, no compromise.”
The still soccer-playing UnoZero founder is blunt with his overall assessment of the game he so loves and the footwear its players wear on the pitch. “A soccer cleat is not going to make you a better player,” Garzón says after suggesting the soccer industry has changed more in the last five years than in the previous 50, in part through more frequent style introductions and regular color-ups.
“This is a very exciting industry to be a part of that is yearning for new players to come in and disrupt and break the molds established by the big brands.”