When Mimi Plange was first tapped by Nike to design the new LeBron 18 lows, the Ghanaian-born fashion designer went back to some of LeBron James‘ first utterances after being named Most Valuable Player by the NBA in 2013. “I’m LeBron James from Akron, Ohio. From the inner-city. I’m not even supposed to be here,” James told a reporter.
Plange and her team used those simple yet powerful words as inspiration for the redesign, which is slated for release today. “The design was already amazing. Their designer Jason Petrie had already created the shoe itself. The collaboration was really just to kind of get a different spin on the shoe,” Plange tells EBONY. “I didn’t want to just do something where I just was changing the color.”
To offer a meaningful and unique spin on the sneakers, Plange thought deeply about James and his personal values—including his commitment to education. Then, she looked for an intersection that bridged James’ story to her own. “I just thought about who LeBron is and what he embodies in terms of education and the school that he [founded] and his own personal style,” says Plange. “My style is sort of casual. I wear a lot of varsity jackets and things like that so I wanted to kind of bring us together and find something that would tell the story of both of us. “
From that intersection came the LeBron 18 Low x Mimi Plange “Higher Learning” design.
“I just thought that Higher Learning was a way to bring the whole idea of education and the varsity jacket, which I love,” Plange says. “We started with this quote where he said, ‘I’m not even supposed to be here.’ I thought about that quote a lot and what that means. It’s just like me, too. Being this little girl that was born in Accra and grew up in California and just the whole idea of like ‘not supposed to be here,’ but we are supposed to be here. So I just wanted to touch upon all those ideas and wrap them into something that somebody felt was special and they could like have as a keepsake with all these little signature elements on it that kind of defined the message that we’re trying to put out in the world.”
To complement the 18 Lows, Plange also designed varsity jackets, which bear the name “Akron” in honor of James’ hometown.
The Lebron 18 Low x Mimi Plange “Higher Learning” sneakers can be purchased by draw from www.mimiplange.com or www.nike.com. You may also enter a draw for the matching varsity jackets on Mimi’s website.