John Elliott was watching Game 3 of the NBA Finals when he noticed LeBron James' black, unreleased Nike sneakers. "I texted my main contact at Nike Basketball and was like, 'Yo! What are those?'" he recalls. "The shoes hadn't dropped yet, and there was no press around them. I was like, 'Wow. I would love to try to get them into my Spring/Summer 2017 'Watching Water' runway show.'" Little did Elliott know, this would lead to a collaboration with Nike on the LeBron Soldier Xs—the same shoe the basketball player wore that night.
On Nov. 11, Elliott and Nike will release the LeBron Soldier X by John Elliott ($200) exclusively at the Nike SoHo brick and mortar. The sneaker features a glow in the dark sole, sublimation print on the straps and upper of the shoe, 3M tabs, and orange accents on the toes. "I decided to put the orange on the toe as an ode to the emotion I felt when I saw LeBron wearing these directional shoes for the first time," Elliott explained. "They were so striking to me, but I thought if I was going to strip it down, there has to be some thought process for a bit of a pop."
"I have so much respect for LeBron and what he was able to accomplish in these Soldiers," he added. "I decided to start with these because of the momentum he had and what he accomplished and how he shifted the culture in these sneakers. I think they're borderline iconic." (The Cleveland Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors during the Finals.)
Born in San Francisco, Elliott grew up playing basketball. It makes perfect sense then, he says, that he used Nike basketball sneakers in his runway shows. "I try to think about what's authentic to me," he said. As a kid, he also submitted sneaker designs to Nike when he was eight years old. Still, he says he couldn't have envisioned collaborating with the giant sportswear brand today. "Sometimes I think back, and I'm like, 'Damn. I accomplished that,'" he said. "I feel lucky to be able to work on these shoes. Any time you have a chance to work with the most important athlete in the world, you jump at that chance."