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Why LeBron’s latest shoe with Nike is a big moment for women in sports

“African-American women are the most powerful women in the world.”

LeBron James said as he accepted Harlem’s Fashion Row’s Icon award last night with his daughter Zhuri in hand.

Harlem Fashion Row was founded in 2007 with the purpose of championing black designers who don’t get the recognition or advantages they deserve in the mainstream fashion; a vision, being that he is more than an athlete, LeBron hopes to embolden.


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@kingjames paid homage to black women and girls during his acceptance speech at #HarlemFashionRow ✊🏾

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The black women HFR were highlighting this nigh, in particular,r were designers, Fe Noel, Undra Celeste Duncan, and Kimberly Goldson, who all had their own separate fashion shows.

The moment of the night, however, came when it was announced that they are the design team behind Lebron’s 16th signature shoe — the first LeBron James sneaker that’s designed by a complete team of women on the collaborator and Nike sides.


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In other @Nike news… This is the perfect post for #wcw. Inspired by Women. Designed by Women. Made for Women. HFR x LBJ 16 for @nikewomen ✨🙌🏾💯👟✨ Collaborative brand designers: @love_ucny @fenoel @kimberlygoldson and Harlem Fashion Row founder @brandicedaniel!! #Repost @harlemsfashionrow The inspiration behind our HFR X LEBRON 16 collaboration, 16 strong women chosen my @kingjames himself! – “I believe that African-American women are some of the strongest people on earth…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.” -LeBron James for Vogue – #strongest #nike #nikewomen #harlemfashionrow #lebronjames #fenoel #kimberlygoldson #undraduncan #brandicedaniel

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To say the move is big is an understatement. Last season, James wore 51 different sneakers as part of the #LeBronWatch campaign but also as another opportunity for a platform to get his message across.

Just last season he rocked the black and white pairs with the word “Equality” written out on the heels, gave away dozens of pairs to all the kids at his new I Promise school for underprivileged kids in Akron, Ohio. Now, with his 16th signature shoe, James is giving a group of women access to a shoe that will inevitably get a massive amount of coverage. He said at the event,

“[Zhuri] made me a better person, stronger person, just a more sensitive person and I realized I had so much more of a responsibility to women in general, so thank you, baby girl.”

The shoes come with a detachable cuff that can be worn as a bracelet or choker and has an easy tan which you can sport with pretty much anything.

Besides the opportunity that comes along with designing a flagship shoe for a tremendous cooperation such as Nike, it’s also on par with how women in the sports community have been recently vocal about.

Serena has said it in regards to women in tennis and WNBA star Skylar Diggins recently caught heat for calling out the disparency in pay by using Harrison Barnes as an example. Either way, their message is all the same: women athletes do not get equal percentages of their organizations’ revenue.

WNBA players also earn just 22% of the league’s annual revenue while NBA players earn 50%. Further, WNBA players don’t get a percentage of jersey sales and are forced to travel commercially rather than on charter flights.

LeBron bringing in three women designers to make a men’s shoe immediately makes that argument unavoidable. Goldson said at last night’s ceremony referring to the lack of black women in a still painfully white fashion industry,

“Your voice is not heard. He looked to the left and looked to the right and said I’m going to take as many people as I can with me. And that’s what’s so special to me is that people want to hear what we have to say.”


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WOWW!! 😭🙏🏾 Thank you @KingJames + @nike + @harlemsfashionrow + @essence for including me in Lebron James’ 16th shoe launch and 16 #STRONGEST women!! 😱🙌🏾❤️ SEE #LebronJames Story!!! _______________________________________________________ This shoe is designed by African American Women!!! Lebron James, @mavcarter you all are visionaries!! You all see us, and celebrate and elevate our love, passion, dedication, determination, and empowerment! I am forever grateful to be uplifted by my brethren! Thank you for making it #MorethanAGame #Nike #LebronJames #16 #strongest #dancer #choreographer #tapdancer #syncopatedladies #chloeandmaud #chloearnold #striveforgreatness #harlemfashionrow #AKidfromDC #lakers

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In addition to LeBron electing to go with these women for the design of his shoe, the compliance of Nike and their societal involvement of late is also worth mentioning.

Sponsoring events like HFR and making Colin Kaepernick the face of its new campaign is major. James said during his speech in a reference to the new ad,

“I stand for anybody who believes in change, who believes in a positive attitude, and I believe and I stand with Nike every day all day.”

Nike is even going as far as to air a commercial featuring Collin Kaepernick during the season opener of the NFL Thursday night.

Not that he ever needed to push, but ever since Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham told LeBron to “shut up and dribble”, he’s been doing so much more. Between the school, the movies, the tech companies, the camps and so much more, we should not be surprised that LeBron has the first all-women designed men’s basketball shoe.

With the NBA lifting the restrictions on which colors athletes can wear on their shoes, there’s no telling what LeBron has up his sleeve next. We’ll just have to wait and see.