Eric Emanuel grew up in Syracuse, New York, obsessing over Allen Iverson. He owned his shoes. He wore a shooting sleeve and headband in his local CYO basketball league. He says he even would have gotten The Answer’s trademark braids if he could have back in the day. This weekend, the 29-year-old designer realizes a childhood dream when his official Answer 5 collection with Reebok launches exclusively at ComplexCon Chicago.
“Growing up, my parents would buy me one pair of shoes a year, and one pair for basketball. A couple kids on my team had gotten the Questions in our team colorway,” Emanuel says. “I remember specifically going to Finish Line in the Carousel Center mall in Syracuse and getting the last size 10 they had. I was so excited. So, my ties back to the Iverson signature line all start with the ‘All-Star’ Questions.”
That pair of “All-Star” Reebok Questions, which were infamously created for Iverson to rock in the 2000 NBA All-Star Game, but never made it out of the locker room, is what inspired Emanuel for one of his two Answer 5 designs. Like the Question, this pair sports a bright yellow upper with navy blue accents. The second pair opts for cream leather with a hot pink shroud, a look Emanuel says represents his eponymous clothing label, which has become popular for its multitude of takes on traditional mesh basketball shorts.
A highlight of each pair is Emanuel’s own personal flip of the classic “I3” logo that sees his “EE” branding replace Iverson’s jersey number “3.” It marks the first time a designer has redesigned the symbol.
“It’s surreal. They actually told me not to get my hopes up because it probably wouldn’t happen. Then, it went through, and I was jumping up and down in my living room,” Emanuel says.
Along with sneakers, the collaboration will also feature matching apparel. Basketball shorts are obviously in the mix, as well as new takes on some of Iverson’s signature accessories like du-rags and shooting sleeves.
“For the collaboration, I just wanted to capture Iverson in the way I saw him when I was growing up. There were just iconic images of that du-rag. To me, the du-rag is the most stellar part of the collection because it has never been retroed,” he says. “Then, when you go to the arm sleeve, I don’t think there was a kid my age playing basketball that didn’t want or have one.”
Attendees at ComplexCon Chicago will be able to get their hands on the Eric Emanuel x Reebok Answer 5 collection at a special carnival-themed booth designed with the help of New York Sunshine and emceed by the voice of the world famous Dyckman Pro League, Cha Ching. The pink pair is exclusive to the weekend’s festivities, while the yellow option will go on to receive a wider launch this fall. Each is priced at $150.
Besides purchasing their favorite pieces, fans will also be able to take the Supershot Challenge on a 30-foot hoop for a chance at the main prize, a chain with a massive diamond pendant of Emanuel’s special “I3” logo.
“Jewelry is a large part of who Iverson was off the court. So, I wanted it to be this huge moment for that logo,” Emanuel says. “He used to show up to the press conferences wearing an oversized Philadelphia Eagles jersey, du-rag, and chain. It looked like he walked straight out of a Fabolous video, but that’s who he was.”