Kristen Ledlow Hosts LeBron 13 Launch Alongside LeBron James
On September 27, 2015, in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, LeBron James introduced his latest signature shoe — the Nike LeBron 13.
At an event hosted by Kristen Ledlow at the University of Akron, James and Nike designers are providing insight behind the designs of his new sneakers and revealing a few details on what to expect moving forward.
LeBron James’ Akron roots. His love for Halloween. His favorite colors. His “Written in the Stars” destiny. Even his home state’s role in space exploration.
If you know how to read an athletic shoe, you’ll find many chapters in LeBron 13, the 13th signature shoe Nike is releasing in collaboration with the Cleveland Cavaliers star.
For starters, the bottom heel of every shoe has the words “LeBron James” and “Akronite” molded on the hexpad cushion.
The shoe was the focus of a movie premier-style event at E.J. Thomas Hall on Sunday to which 2,000 Akron area students, a handful of lucky residents and Cavs season ticket holders were invited.
But before taking the stage at 7 p.m., James and Nike project manager Kevin Dodson met with media to explain the evolution of James’ latest footwear.
The news conference mimicked a broadcast talk show, with NBA TV personality Kristen Ledlow interviewing James and Dodson.
The 18-month idea-to-market process begins with “just listening” to James’ vision, Dodson said. “What are the innovations we want to get out there? What are the stories we want to bring” to his line.
In the case of LeBron 13, the story is a familiar one to those who have followed James’ journey from a standout at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School to one of the world’s most recognized athletes.
Nike has named the deep purple color palette of the first shoe being released in the line “Written in the Stars,” a phrase that has been associated with James.
Ledlow noted James is well known for his love of Akron, and asked if he believed he was destined to bring “basketball glory” to his hometown.
“I believe you bring glory with hard work,” James answered. “I never expected to have it, but I know I put in the work so if it ever came my way I was ready for it… People say it was written in the stars and things of that nature. I think it was there, but I had to go get it.”
Other color palettes (called “colorways” in the industry) will be released in the coming weeks.
One black-based colorway coming for the holidays will be titled “Akronite.”
Another will celebrate his love of Halloween and scary movies. He mentioned this interest to designers and “they never said anything else about it till they showed up with the shoe, and it’s crazy. You guys will get it as soon as you see the shoe.”
Inspired by Ohio’s place as “Mother of Astronauts,” another palette will be reminiscent of silver space suits.
Story aside, James said his demands for the shoe — as always — were explosiveness, comfort and style.
“My shoes need to perform not only on the floor, but for people who don’t even play basketball,” he said.
Dodson said versions of LeBron 13 have been designed for feet as small as toddlers.
Meanwhile, the adult game shoe improves on previous designs, he said.
The hexpads on the soles are bigger and have more cushion, targeting the “hotspots” on athletes’ feet, James said.
He added that as he’s gotten older, lighter shoes have become more important.
He credited Nike’s “physicians, technicians and scientists” with being able to create a lightweight shoe that also “makes me be as fast and as quick as some of those smaller guys in our league as well.”
The shoes, which will be released next month, will retail for $200.
James’ Nike line has one other surprise coming.
Sunday prior to his “An Evening with LeBron” shoe extravaganza, a group of students involved with LeBron James’ Family Foundation programs were sequestered at E.J. Thomas Hall to help design a new shoe — an extension of the LeBron 13 line — to be released next summer.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever done this,” James said. “All you guys know how important my foundation is, how important my kids are… So I’m having them use their brains to create a shoe that will go into production.”