I was one of ten people lucky enough to be asked to customize a pair of Lebron Xs for Lebron James' visit to Manila. The brief was to take inspiration from the current Nike campaign for Lebron called #WITNESSHISTORY. We were asked to create a design that should be derived from any insight related to LeBron James (i.e. career achievements, off-the-court fashion icon, King James, Lion, etc.), and reflect his greatness as an athlete.
I chose to create a piece I call Manila Inferno, loosely based on his current team the Miami Heat. I also created a lacelock of a lion based on the Philippine flag sun. Then added the patches "Manila Inferno" on each shoe tongue.
Now before embarking on this gargantuan task, I asked my son Gabe if I could practice painting on his pair of Lebron Xs. They were 6 months old and were pretty much falling apart. I was only able to convince him after telling him I'd buy him a new pair! Thankfully he said yes. But I do owe him a pair of sneakers.
My first idea was to paint a pattern of palm leaves on each shoe, because that was something common between Manila and Miami. But that didn't really work out so I had to continue experimenting. In the process, I came up with the idea of doing shoes "on fire". This was the fist result. It was really a mess and didn't really look like flames. And they looked so bad my son wouldn't dare wear them again.
So after basically messing up Gabe's old pair, I felt I was ready to tackle the actual pair of Lebron Xs. The thing with sneaker customs normally is the need to prep the base before painting. But after an exhaustive research on customizing Lebron Xs, I couldn't find out the proper way of prepping each pair. So pressed for time, I just went straight up and created the base of the flames with orange acrylic paint.
The next step was to create a few more layers of orange paint to create a bit more depth. I then added the light orange and bright yellow layers to create a more realistic look.
When I was content with the paint job, I wanted to add a lacelock and some custom patches on the tongues.
So there it is! Tha pair is now on exhibit at Nike Park Bonifacio High Street. Photos courtesy of Sole Movement. Thanks Martin!
Hopefully Lebron likes the pair enough to wear it!