The limited edition HFR x LeBron 16 made its debut last Tuesday during New York Fashion Week as the first women’s basketball shoe in LeBron James’ shoe line. The shoe was designed in collaboration with Nike and Harlem’s Fashion Row, a collective highlighting female designers of color founded by fashion industry influencer Brandice Daniel.
The shoe, designed by Harlem’s Fashion Row designers Kimberly Goldson, Fe Noel, and Undra Duncan, was inspired by James’ belief in the strength and power of the Black women in his life—namely his mother, wife, and daughter.
“I believe that African-American women are some of the strongest people on earth,” James told Vogue. “I grew up around incredibly strong women and continue to be inspired by the female strength I see around me, mainly in my mom, wife, and daughter. I thought it was important to recognize that strength through this shoe.”
The groundbreaking shoe—white, adorned with gold details—sold out in five minutes after its release on Friday morning.
“We always designed in our own little world and that’s why it was so important to us that Brandice gave us this platform for our voices to be heard. The sneaker represents that,” said Noel in an interview with Forbes. “The sneaker represents that we’re the underdogs. The reason the sneaker sold out in five minutes is that there is nothing else going on. We don’t have enough of this.”
Though each designer approaches their work from a different aesthetic, similar stylistic attributes, such as wanting women to feel luxury and opulence, created the unique shoe.
“There are so many elements with the sneaker that portrays strength. The first that we started from was gold because that’s something that runs through all three of our collections and aesthetics,” said Goldson. “We included gold because it’s a strong element and metal that can’t be broken.”
The sneaker details extend to the heel with a 3-D roaring lion emerging and to the ankle with a removable strap worn on the shoe or as an ankle bracelet.
The designers worked with closely James and took note of the four words he frequently used to describe his mom: strength, dignity, courage, and loyalty. The words serve to empower and inspire.
“Every time someone puts their foot in the shoe, that’s what they’re standing on,” Daniel says. “I think that’s just so dope.”