Fans of NBA star LeBron James and his beloved Nike signature sneaker franchise will have a new model to purchase starting tomorrow.
The first colorway of the Nike LeBron 15, a beige iteration dubbed “Ghost”, will arrive on Tuesday via nike.com, SNKRS and at select Nike retailers with a price of $ 185. After the fall “Ghost” is the colorway “Ashes” on October 29th.
The LeBron 15 is very different from previous models in the franchise. It features a Flyknit Battle construction on its upper (called a BattleKnit) and is executed with a fully articulated cushioning system that combines the Max Air and Zoom Air units.
Ahead of the launch, Kevin Dodson, Head of Global Nike Footwear Line, spoke with Shoe News about working with James to create a must-have style, the discoveries of the design team they met in the process, and the role consumers played by ditching basketball shoes in creating the LeBron 15.
What requests did LeBron James have for the shoe?
“From LeBron to our entire footwear team, we felt it was time to take a big leap both in terms of bringing something new, incredible innovation to the product, but also in terms of changing the shoe shape. We wanted to create something modern, distinct, daring but [also] really simple and elegant. With us, we wanted to start with innovation. We worked really hard to bring Flyknit to a new space, so we developed this Flyknit Battle and designed a structure in it, gave it support. And second, we really wanted to reinvigorate the cushioning system. LeBron’s best shoes for playing, in his mind, have always been [Air] Max shoes. How to give it [Air] Max with modern performance advantages? All that snap, bounce and protection but in a more flexible package. In the end, it was time for a big leap, a big change, and we all, from LeBron to the team, think we ended up there with this shoe on.
Can you describe the design process? How involved was James?
“He’s still very involved. [Nike senior basketball designer] Jason Petrie has always worked on every LeBron design since LeBron 7, and he and LeBron have a great working relationship. Our product line manager Tim Day, Jason Petrie, and a bunch of other people on the team see him several times a year. And it’s an iterative process; we start with an intention, we show design concepts based on its ideas and those of the consumer, we get feedback, refine and keep pushing until we feel in a good position.
Did you make any discoveries during the LeBron 15 design process?
“There were several things. First, how do you provide athletes with sufficient support on the pitch with a really simple and minimal Flyknit package? We have fixed the Flyknit Battle on this product. The second thing was to try and make sure we gave the right combination of bounce and crisp feel, but with great transition and flexibility. We’ve learned that LeBron isn’t afraid to drop a little lower in terms of height and cut that top line down a bit for better range of motion and agility, which works great for most basketball players- ball. [And] there are a few things we found out that i won’t burn right now because we’re going to be saving them for future shoes.
The sneaker trend is moving away from basketball and moving more towards a more understated silhouette inspired by running. Did the design team consider aesthetics and customer satisfaction when designing the LeBron 15?
“Always. We have to do it. Basketball players don’t just want a shoe that lives on the court. That’s what makes basketball amazing; basketball goes way beyond the court. The best basketball shoes- ball of all time, people wear them off the pitch today. And that’s our goal going forward – it starts out on the pitch with incredible innovation and performance, but it has to go through this filter. style, which is simple, distinct and bold so people will want to wear them off the court with jeans or a pair of joggers or whatever, sweats. It’s critical. There is no performance without style, and this must be in the foreground in the future with our product.
Did James mention any past shoe elements that he didn’t like or wanted to include in the Nike LeBron 15?
“It’s not like ‘For that shoe, do that’ with him. LeBron always says it’s his babies, but there are definitely everyone’s favorite parts he calls out. When we started to think about this product, we knew some of the best rides and favorites not only from LeBron but the athletes and consumers, the people who bought the shoes, loved the Max Air shoes. So how do you give them that edge, give it that ride? , that amazing thing and do it in a new and modern way that actually helps him play better on the pitch? That was really the intention, and when we started pitching him ideas about it, you could seeing it in his eyes like, “You’re going in the right direction, keep pushing.”