Last year, Nike and LeBron James introduced Battleknit 2.0 with the unveiling of the LeBron 16, and next for the Los Angeles Lakers All-Star is the introduction of Knitposite on his latest signature shoe.
The LeBron 17 was officially debuted by Nike and set for a Sept. 27 release on SNKRS with the ‘Future Air’ colorway that takes cues from the iconic Air Max shoe box. The most noticeable difference in the newest offering from James’ line is a return to a hightop model.
The bulk of James’ signature shoes have all been such, but there was a shift to a 3/4 cut with the LeBron 16.
“We had ‘the blueprint’ in mind for the 17, and we started from the ground up on everything, whether that was the construction of the knit or the way we could protect him underfoot with Air bags,” said Jason Petrie, who designed the LeBron XVII.
“The silhouette was a way to reset the mark for LeBron, and futuristically explore how we could help his game with the best that Nike offers.”
In starting from the bottom, Nike has outfitted the LeBron 17 with the highest-volume Max Air ever present on any of James’ shoes. One unit is placed below the heel in order to provide shock absorption for his explosive play. A soft foam pod directly under the Max Air units adds cushioning.
“If you look at the evolution of LeBron’s line, you’ll see how he loves Max Air, and we felt like the volume of Air in the 17 was the next solution in providing the stabilization and support he needs,” Petrie explained.
Air Zoom (located in the forefoot) is combined with Max Air for a hybrid cushioning setup. “The lateral and medial pods under the forefoot give him that response and comfort in conjunction with the Max Air bag,” Petrie said.
“The way LeBron sees it, he wants to feel confident from the ground up. He doesn’t need help jumping. He wants to feel secure on the way down.”
As for the upper construction, Knitposite is a byproduct of combining the tooling used on James’ past two signature shoes.
“We wanted to blend the knit on the 15 and the strength of the Battleknit on the 16. The result is amazing,” Petrie said. “Once the heat is applied to the knitting process, you get this jewel-like armored exoskeleton that’s stuffed with these yarns. It’s both structural and soft in the areas it needs to be.”
As for two of James’ signature logos — the lion crest and silhouette of his slam dunk — they have been moved to the tongue and combined with various phrases and symbols such as, “I’m King,” “LJ” and “23.”
“LeBron wanted a more overt tongue for the shoe, which opens up the opportunity for personal storytelling,” Petrie said.
“There are other micro details, too. Making the topline jagged was our way of stepping into the crown of the king. Also, there’s a woven label on the medial side that has the inspiration for the colorway. It’s almost like a key to the shoe.”
It’s believed the black upper with hints of purple and yellow mixed in — making for a Lakers-specific version — will release at some point in October.