‘we always want the overall vibe of lebron’s shoe to be aggressive, stylish, modern and classic,’ says jason petrie, the NIKE designer who has worked with basketball superstar lebron james for more than a decade. the duo have been responsible for the design of each of the athlete’s signature shoes from the 7 on, as well as contributing to the LEBRON soldier series. unveiled at the start of the 2017-18 season, the LEBRON 15 celebrates james’ 15th year in the NBA and seeks to push the boundaries of a basketball shoe further than ever.
all images courtesy of NIKE
the LEBRON 15 features a brand new upper and a powerful combination of cushioning designed to meet the demands of today’s most explosive players. ‘this new iteration of flyknit, NIKE BattleKnit, is built specifically for lebron,’ explains jason petrie. ‘he needed something more than what knit uppers, to date, could provide for him structurally and also in the way that he wanted it to come to life.’ to develop the shoe to lebron’s requirements, petrie and his team realized they had to manufacture the material in a completely different way — a move that resulted in a range of new possibilities.
the design seeks to push the boundaries of a basketball shoe further than ever
‘the main benefits we were looking for were containment and strength, but we also needed the things that are great about flyknit: fit, a dialed design and less waste,’ continues petrie. through realizing the knit as essentially one fabric part, the design team was able to engineer the shoe to exact specifications, in terms of protection, stretch, and performance. ‘it’s an all-in-one package that allows lebron to feel locked down, feel protected and also be able to move freely to dictate the action on court and to respond and react when he needs,’ adds the NIKE designer.
a fully articulated cushioning system is found underfoot
the shoe’s aggressive diamond chainmail appearance is a result of the innovative new knit, while its streamlined form was shaped directly from lebron’s input. ‘we had a couple of different iterations along the way, and he was adamant about getting lower and sculpting around the ankle, but still wanting to retain that hugging fit,’ explains petrie, who was at first wary about the form being too bulky.
jason petrie’s initial sketch for the LEBRON 15
a fully articulated cushioning system is found underfoot, a package which combines the benefits of NIKE’s max air and zoom air units. ‘the LEBRON 15 has a brand new air unit, a combination of air max and zoom, formed for incredible transition, really great impact protection and a lightweight ride,’ petrie explains. ‘it’s all the things you would expect out of zoom air with the comfort and protection of air max.’
the shoe’s aggressive diamond chainmail appearance is a direct result of the new knit
for lebron’s part, he’s clearly impressed with the result. ‘this is my favorite shoe to date,’ says james. ‘the performance benefits and sophisticated look make this shoe a force on and off the court. since jason and I started working on the LEBRON VII, we have always talked about how we not only want to have the top, top, top notch in performance, we want style, as well. we have a desire to create shoes that makes all people feel good when they put it on.’
the streamlined form was shaped from lebron james’ direct input
the LEBRON 15 is currently available in two distinct colorways: ‘ashes’, which honors the embers of james’ past; and ‘ghost’, a design that pays homage to lebron’s drive to chase the greatness of those that came before him. earlier this year designboom was in los angeles for the launch of NIKE’s partnership with the NBA. at the event, the sportswear giant revealed that its new fan jerseys will include an interactive element, designed to bring the sport’s followers closer to its biggest stars. see the full feature on designboom here.
the ‘ghost’ colorway pays homage to lebron’s drive to chase the greatness of those that came before him
‘this is my favorite shoe to date,’ says james on the LEBRON 15
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