According to the outlet, the sneakers were unveiled at Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR) style awards and fashion show, an annual event that celebrates people of color in fashion and empowers minority designers with a platform to showcase their collections during New York Fashion Week. This year, the event was sponsored by Nike.
“I believe that African American women are the most powerful in the world,” said James at the gala while accepting Harlem’s Fashion Row’s “Icon 360 Award” for his style and philanthropy. “Why I believe they are the most powerful women in the world is because I had the example of my mother every single day.”
The Los Angeles Laker credits his wife, mother and daughter as a source of inspiration behind his 16th sneaker, the HFR x LeBron 16, titled “The Strongest.”
“Being the son, husband, and father of strong African American women, I felt like this was something I wanted to do for them and for all the strong women out there who are succeeding despite what might be stacked against them,” he said in a statement.
HFR founder Brandice Daniels, who created the New York City-based fashion collective in 2007, recruited three black designers for the project: Kimberly Goldson, Felisha Noel, and Undra Celeste Duncan. Together, Daniels and the trio of designers learned how to design a performance shoe at Nike World HQ, according to Nike News. They also worked closely with Nike global basketball footwear designer Meline Khatachourian and James’ longtime footwear designer Jason Petrie throughout the design process.
“The partnership with Nike came about because a great girlfriend, who I had met years ago, introduced me to [Nike’s team,]” Daniels told Black Enterprise. “Relationships are everything.”
James closed his acceptance speech by noting that he “stands with Nike” after the company faced backlash from their latest Just Do It ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick.
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