On Friday, LeBron James will release his 16th sneaker with Nike, but this one is a little different. For the first time ever, James’ sneaker was designed exclusively by women. After the Los Angeles Laker mentioned in a speech how inspired he was by Black women, Nike reached out to Brandice Daniel, the founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row, an organization that aims to elevate multicultural designers. Daniel presented three Black female designers to the athletic brand — Kimberly Goldson, Undra Duncan, and Fe Noel — who worked with one of Nike global basketball footwear designers, Meline Khachatourian, to create the shoe.
“The collaboration between James and Harlem Fashion Row was natural: Take two voices devoted to empowering others and combine them to create a shoe that honors the strength of African American women everywhere,” Nike News reported. “The result is the HFR x LeBron 16, the first LeBron signature shoe to be reimagined by female designers.” Khachatourian said the collaboration was based on "dignity, loyalty, courage, and strength" (sentiments that also stitched inside the tongue of the sneaker).
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HFR x Lebron 16 Built by us made for us @kingjames @fenoel @love_ucny @kimberlygoldson @brandicedaniel @harlemsfashionrow #strongest #blackgirlmagic #wcw . . . . . The limited edition will be available September 7th on the Nike SNKRS App and nike.com Photo by @Nike . . . . . . #nyfw #KGSisters #KimberlyGoldson #lebron16 #nikewomen
The shoe is an evolution of the flyknit sneaker and features elegant gold hardware and lace tips. The gold was the one element all four women agreed on. “We all have different aesthetics,” Goldson tells Refinery29. “We were all over the place and ended up at a very different place than where we began. Aundra and I love bright colors, Fe lives in muted color palettes, but the comment thread for all of us was that we love gold. We’ve always loved gold. That had to be a prominent part of the shoe. Once we figured that out, it just evolved from there.”
We think a major selling point is the bracelet that wraps around the ankle of the sneaker. It can extend up the leg to be worn gladiator-style, or can be taken off and worn as a bracelet or a choker. “Even if you aren’t wearing the sneaker, it’s something you can wear everyday,” Noel says. “The shoe is the perfect melting pot of what we asked Nike for. It transcends sport and style.”
The sneakers retail for $200 and will be available on the SNKRS app on September 7.