LeBron James is partnering with designer Mimi Plange for a series of colorways of the LeBron 18 Low. The collection represents the second female design collaboration for LeBron James, underscoring his commitment to raise the voices of others who are creating positive change in the community.
For Plange, the collection provides an opportunity to diversify new pockets of culture through fashion. Her personal brand, inspired by African art, rituals and architecture, looks to lead fresh perspectives around African fashion. Her four-part LeBron 18 Low collection sharpens her focus through topics that share complex, varied relationships to sport. In the first shoe, her focus is the letterman’s jacket, an element of high school culture that’s rich in social meaning as a status symbol and as a carrier for identity.
Her design ambitions reflect careful thinking of diversity as a mechanism that can, in fact, highlight relationships between groups. Plange remembers the profound cultural shift she sensed when she moved from her home country of Ghana to Southern California at five years old. Leading up to high school, she transitioned to a small school in Rancho Cucamonga. She lived through what felt like the prototypical American high-school experience.
The longer she was in school, the more clearly she saw that what felt like dichotomies could also describe a universal experience, shared by groups who participate in a set environment.
“My interests are in people,” says Plange. “I’ve had a lot of experiences with many different groups of people, so I’ve lived through contrasts, like coming from Ghana and growing up in California, like not having a lot of money growing up and yet participating in honors classes, which included a specific kind of student. I think those experiences, along with the ability to travel as an adult, were big reasons why I design the way I do, because you’re able to see that the world is a lot smaller than you think, and that people are not as segmented or opposite in thought as you might think they are.”
Plange calls the opportunity to work with LeBron a huge honor. The collection of four shoes, releasing throughout the Holiday season, allows her to examine James from different angles, exploring his lasting influence throughout sport and culture. The series gives her the chance to translate ideas over time to consider James from multiple viewpoints – as a young superstar, as a family man, as an educational advocate, and more. Consistently diverse perspectives over time, not just in a moment, is key for Plange as she considers the value in working alongside James and Nike.
“It’s amazing to shine a light where there hasn’t been enough light: bringing more voices into design. Having the space to speak a sense of self through design carries a lot of power,” she says.
The “Higher Learning” colorway of the LeBron 18 Low x Mimi Plange releases beginning June 2 on Plange’s website, on SNKRS and at select retailers.