The Textile Language of Prestige
Until recently, my only association with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade were the lyrics to Empire State of Mind, in which Jay-Z references the basketball players’ respective jersey numbers to connote the price he supposedly pays for a kilo of cocaine, (that’s in thousands, and before LeBron made “The Decision”, but I digress). Bottom line, I wasn’t into sports, my interests running closer to the world of art, and textiles in particular.
But times they change! Now vastly pregnant in 97 degree weather, I’ve had to make do with limited mobility and motivation, so after a day of fighting for breath under the weight of my darling tenant, I tend to watch whatever colorful shenanigans appear on my TV. That has meant watching the NBA finals. Now, I do watch the game, but with it you must also watch the ads if you can’t reach the remote. What I noticed were the spectacular new materials Nike has employed in the construction of LeBron’s sneakers, who was named NBA’s Most Valuable Player last night after winning the Finals with the Miami Heat.
Of course, in the olden days of the game, Chuck Taylor’s were good enough for the best of ‘em. But then again, Tour de France cyclists regularly lit up while competing. Of course, sports were not yet a multi-billion dollar global industry propelled by consumer demand. So more importance was placed on the athlete, and less on the gear. The shoes that Nike has put out are the opposite of that.
They are NASA-quality amalgamations of technology and intimidation. Carbon fiber and Kevlar reinforcement that’s woven into this shoe provides strength with minimal stretch- qualities fit for military gear, literally and figuratively. The shoe, made especially for LeBron (Kobe has his own), and named after him, most importantly bestows upon him special status. That LeBron may be unbeatable probably has more to do with the 250lb-athlete than with the shoe, but the innovative materials add to the feeling of power that goes with confidence. This is his royal ermine cape, his samurai armor, the superhero costume, so it should come as no surprise that the LeBron 9 PS Elite is an all-black affair with a dazzling Nike swoosh of gold, or that the Kobe VII comes with snakeskin detailing. Heroes will change, and how we dress them will too, but that we bestow our best materials on them never will. For you textile enthusiasts that means carbon fiber, flywire and Kevlar.