words // Nick DePaula:
The sign of a truly great signature shoe is when the model emulates the style of its namesake player. It’s what made the Air Jordan XIV so iconic in just two NBA games on Michael’s feet, or the sleek and low-cut Kobe IV such a transcendent model to usher in an era of low tops.
For Jason Petrie, designer of the LeBron James signature series since the VII, finding that masterful balance and blending together a look that embodies Bron’s physicality, explosiveness and sense of style has been a key to the direction of his designs.
After spending the summer of 2009 with LeBron in China during the “More Than A Game” world tour for the movie of the same name, Petrie distinctly recalls how traveling alongside James influenced the look of the LeBron 8.
“You could see him just head and shoulders above everyone in his crew and you could see him coming from a mile away. That led to the stance of the 8,” explains Petrie. “If you think about that Jay-Z lyric, how you can ‘walk like a ballplayer,’ he does. You see Mike from 100 yards, and you know that dude can play basketball. It’s the same thing with LeBron. It’s the confidence that he has. His physical stature is not like anything you’ve ever seen in any other human anyway, and it’s not just him being tall and him being a basketball player, but it’s just that confidence that he carries and that calm that he has and that self-assuredness. I’m sure he’s had that his whole life and it just bleeds into the way he plays ball.”
With that notion of height and undeniable presence in mind, the collar of the LeBron 8 veered even taller, taking on an imposing and powerful silhouette that’s come to define the line.
“I just really want his footwear to have that same sort of emotional feel, and we’ll call it stance,” Petrie continues. “The VII begins to do that, but we really wanted to blow that idea up, and have his shoe really stand out on the wall like LeBron stands out in a crowd.”
Check out Jason Petrie’s final rendering of the LeBron 8 below in the latest sneaker sketch of the week.