LeBron James Discusses His New Nike Sneaker Inspired By African-American Women

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LeBron James was so inspired by the women who raised him that he created a sneaker for Nike in their honor, Vogue reports. He revealed the HFR x LeBron 16, his first-ever women’s basketball shoe, in collaboration with Nike and Harlem’s Fashion Row. The former is a brand you may have heard of once or twice, and the latter is an organization dedicated to promoting the work of multicultural artists.

LeBron James seems to be on an appreciation tour of late, what with starting his amazing I Promise school to give back to his hometown, and of course his generous decision to join the Lakers. He worked with a team that included Meline Khachatourian from Nike and Kimberly Goldston, Fe Noel, and Undra Duncan from Harlem’s Fashion Row.

The plan was to create a sneaker that showcases James’ love and respect for African-American women, particularly those who were most important in his own life — his mother, his wife, and his daughter.

Khachatourian explained the intent behind some of the design elements. “We wanted to make this shoe a luxurious twist on the basketball sneaker, with hints of regal gold hardware and a powerful 3-D lion motif on the heel.” She adds, “On the inside sole, there are four words that you will see visualized: strength, courage, loyalty, and dignity. Every time you reach down to put the shoe on, these words will serve as a reminder of encouragement and empowerment.”

All four designers’ signatures appear on the tongue of the sneaker, which also features a leather strap that transforms into a choker or a bracelet. LeBron apparently loved that feature when they showed it to him during the design process.

James said all the designers were hardworking women who had overcome obstacles in their career. He wanted to honor their talent and felt they would bring a special perspective to the project.

LeBron also wanted to use his platform to do some good in bringing attention to the obstacles and struggles that impact African-American women, and all women, every day. He said it was particularly important now, when many women’s rights are being threatened.

“I thought it was important to lend that platform to a group of people that I believe are undervalued,” he says. “I want women to know that they are recognized, that there are people who appreciate them and know that they are facing odds that others are not having to face.”