The newest in L&D's growing line of colabs, is the “Mutumbo Flow" laced adidas Streetball '08 which is not a retro or bring back shoe, but a sneaker designed and inspired by the original adidas Streetball with L&D's vintage inspired feel. We spoke with not only the guys at Lemar and Dauley for some exclusive insight into the new shoe, but the heads at adidas Remix Line also chipped in to give Sneaker Freaker some extra privileged information.
Lets jump straight into it! How long ago did adidas approach you to do collaboration?
Adidas approached us first. They hit us up and flew us to Portland to discuss their plans and check out some models and fabrics.
Adidas : The convos with L and D started in December of 2006. Kareem, Brian, and Manhattan came out to Portland in the middle of January '07 and that's where the process began.
Why the Remix Basketball brand? How does the Remix collection reflect the interests of Lemar and Dauley?
The Remix brand was actually perfect for L&D because it allowed us to apply our ideas to their models in our preferred method. There were no rules or restrictions. We didnt have to worry about adidas or any pro league's corporate regulations. It was like a blank canvas. Thats cliche, but thats what it was. We had a blank shoe. Then we decided how to apply the color. Plus, our brand has basketball in its DNA, so selecting a basketball shoe was exactly what we were interested in doing. It was perfect timing.
Adidas : From the adidas standpoint, L and D fit our brand and what we are doing in Remix because a lot of the collections are sport inspired, especially hoops. I was a fan of their brand. I bought a couple of their tees from Shoe Gallery in Miami and after the success we had with Undr-Crwn, I wanted to follow it up with someone and I couldn't think of a better fit than their crew. The guys have a great understanding of the market. It's like they see the world through a different set of glasses. My goal for the partnerships that we do with L and D or other brands, people, athletes, or even media is to make it a win-win situation for both of us. I work for adidas, I have a responsibility to them to make the coolest product possible. When I shake the hands with the person or brand that we are collaborating with I know at that time it becomes a partnership and that I have to incorporate the goals of those individuals in to the ones I have from adidas. Some brands want to grow, some want more recognition, and some just want their own shoe to tell their friends that they're cool. Whatever it is, I do my best to make that happen by introducing them to a buyer at an account they would like to sell the brand in, utilizing our opportunities with our PR team, athletes, celebrity connections, and so on.
What do you think adidas saw in Lemar and Dauley as far as your brand making a knock-out shoe?
Well, I know they were familiar with the brand, so I believe they saw that we could accomplish for them what we have done prior for brands like Kidrobot and DC Shoes. I believe they saw that we could tap into another brand's culture and create an attractive product that never conflicts or distracts from the brand's initial message. I dont know if they knew we would make a great shoe, but I think they knew if you are going to attempt to make a shoe that will make an impact, call L&D. Thats what they did, and it worked out dope.
Adidas : Style and Creativity.
How did you approach this collaboration in terms of where do you start in creating the one shoe that is going to represent your brand?
Well, the first thing that worked in our favor was the fact that we didn't get much time to mock it up. This actually helped us, because it eliminated all the crazy anxiety you have when you're trying to figure out what to do that's "hot" but not "try hard". We didn't have time to draft up 20-30 sketches. So, we decided to stick with what we know. My partner, Manhattan, had developed this kente print called "Mutumbo Flow", so we was like that shit would be crazy on the sockliner and tongue and what not. Actually at the time, we were developing two footwear models, which had a sockliner, but it got canceled because I believe adidas dropped the shoe from delivery. The one thing we knew since our flight from Portland back to NYC, was that we wanted to create a shoe which was exciting but easy to wear, thus the solid color palette.
Is there a story to the shoe, or is it more a reflection on Lemar and Dauley's love of bold colours and textures, bringing back a nostalgic vintage feel of the late '80s and early '90s?
Actually, we didn't intend on creating a "nostalgic" shoe. What we wanted to do was create a shoe which was "pretty", believe it or not. We actually wanted to create a shoe that was beautiful in color, but not necessarily bright. At the time, alot of shoes were coming out really bright, so we wanted a more subdued color, but at the same time catch the eye of the females when sitting on the train. The train ride in NY is the perfect time to talk to women, so footwear and personal attire have to be clean and attractive. If you can get their attention, your good. We was trying to assist all the young athletes and L&D heads on they're daily commute.
The color teal is an L&D trademark. We have used this color repeatedly in past collections. The tongue is a trademark as well when we design shoes. We always want to put the attention on the most underated sections of the shoe. The "tongue" is just that. Nobody ever addresses the tongue. But the mid-sole and tongue are things footwear companies used to think about in there earlier years, so I guess it was an unconscious design idea, in regards to creating a "nostalgic" shoe. But once we saw the physical sample, I definitely saw the "Spike Lee" era attached. I actually liked them more afterwards. Im a huge Spike Lee fan.
Who was involved in the process and how did you correlate all the ideas smoothly? Is there a massive crew of peeps within your own brand now, as it has blitzed the street wear scene, especially in the US?
Nah, we have grown alot since then, but there are only a total of 4 and our distributor. We actually let go of a few people in between for not working hard enough. We have a great team now. Everybody handles there task. But at the time, back around early 07, it was just Manhattan and I that handled the design alongside the adidas's team.
How many prototypes of the shoe did you work on before coming to a conclusion on the finished product?
Truthfully, only 2. We knew what we wanted to see from the jump, so it was just a matter of getting the right fabrics. We knew we wanted an all suede, especially for the teal version. I mean teal suede...nobody is doing buttersoft teal suede.lol. The front consist of a soft grade suede, while the back panels have a coarse suede fabric. We wanted the shoe to be sexy and clean, but have accents that remind you that it is a streetball shoe.
Adidas : Two. it took a while though to get there. The first had the traditional hounds tooth pattern on it that L and D is so known for. It kept peeling off the webbing and laces where we screened it, so that's what lead to the checker board patterned webbing and the 5 sets of laces.
What are some of the highlights on the adidas Streetball '08 that will stand out and break necks on the streets?
Aaawww man, the midsole is definitely the neck breaker part for guys and the teal colorway is what keeps the girls checking, because
they always want to know if the shoe comes in their size. I think for me, its the tongue. I love the embroidery on the tongue of the shoe.I think its classic. Plus, you overlook it at first, but the fuchsia chrome arch braces on the black colorway is like jewelry. Its the
"bracelet" to the shoe.
Explain to us what you mean about Lemar and Dauley's desire to become streetwear's first "impact" brand? Do you think you are succeeding?
Yeah, I know we are succeeding. We actually might be becoming to "impactful". We have created our own competitors. With success means you get alot of duplicates. But that's apart of business and it just means we have to continue to be leaders. 2008 is definitely a step towards separating ourselves from being labeled "streetwear" and establishing ourselves as a "brand" period. In streetwear, we are used to alot of parody and social commentary, and thats cool, but its trendy. We are establishing ourselves as a staple. The goal is to be the brand that inspires the future of this DIY movement as brands like Ralph Lauren were unknowingly influential to the success of L&D and streetwear as a hold. We're just one of the few companies that admits it. This brand serves as a mentor to us, so its only right that one day L&D would graduate from student and be a brand that will have impact not only in fashion, but visual arts as well as the modern music scene developing in NYC.
Your brand has taken on a slightly new direction with more sophisticated bold prints, rather than the basketball heyday images you were so known for when your brand first dropped. Where do you see Lemar and Dauley going?
Its a pleasure to see that people do take notice. Thanks. Well, Manhattan and myself are both formally trained artist, so I guess it is
a natural instinct that is beginning to implement itself into the line. In the past it was just a shirt or two, but it has definitely evolved as we begin to segment the line into a brand that can be better translated. We realize that globally, our upbringing isn't as global as we expect. We are beginning to learn that we were blessed to be apart of an era birthed in NYC, so now we are exploring every aspect of
this history and telling a story that is almost a documentary of the last 25 years, but more contemporary. We understand that people want to know this heritage, but not necessarily want to dress like their from 1988. Its a learning process that we are excited to go through. But to sum it up, expect a few collab projects with accomplished artist, who are very prestigious in the art circle. Its actually amazing to find out who wears L&D. Also, look out for a big time collaborative capsule collection we will unveil at Comic Con this summer and additional co-branded apparel and footwear in 09. The most exciting is www.asidebsidemedia.com. Its a music blog, which we are spinning off into a 500 seat concert this summer in Canada. Its an artist series we have developed to represent the parallel between street and sport culture and its soundtrack. The line up is crazy. It is so diverse. I cant wait to attend.
For more information on the shoe, check our New Release section here