With baggy shorts and sporting the first of many eventual tattoos, Allen Iverson hit the basketball court in iconoclast style 20 years ago as a Philadelphia 76er.
The baller’s influence is honored with the ME x Reebok Classics’ new Question Mid 20th anniversary sneaker — a collaboration with designer-retailer Melody Ehsani that nods to his rebellious spirit.
“He didn’t change himself to fit into the system, so I thought of how I can carry that into the feminine,” Ehsani told Footwear News of the tribute shoe for women.
“Everyone has tattoos now, but back then it was unheard of [in the NBA],” Ehsani added. “He brought this authentic thing to the game and his attitude was unapologetic.”
The 2001 NBA Most Valuable Player’s influence is obvious in the details, such as the interior lining emblazoned with a graphic of his cornrows (his signature hairstyle by the late 1990s); three interchangeable Velcro patches featuring his different tattoos that attach to the back panel; and tongues embossed with his tattooed mantra, “Hold My Own.”
“His braids were iconic to me so you can see them on the interior,” Ehsani said. “The sockliner has bandana print, which is iconic to him. Allen is someone I looked up to and admired; I played basketball when I was young.”
The upper incorporates natural vegetable tanned leather, suede and a black patent leather cap toe. The soles are ice blue — a nod to the shoe’s premiere two decades ago.
Reebok’s campaign features Iverson’s wife, Tawanna Turner, and their three daughters.
“It was special to shoot them for the campaign,” Ehsani added. “He’s been married to the same woman — they’ve been together since 16 and they went to prom together. His children are the most well-behaved that I’ve seen: Each one is so special, which to me is a real testament. It’s so cool because [the shoes] are taking all those things about Iverson and carrying it forward to the feminine and what that means now.”
Ehsani launched her eponymous female lifestyle brand eight years ago and opened up a shop in L.A.’s sneakerhead epicenter on Fairfax Avenue. The store is across the street from Supreme and a few doors down the block from Pink Dolphin.
She’s one of the few retailers that specialize in women’s streetwear. Like Iverson, she’s changing the culture that surrounds her by being unapologetically herself: “I always wanted to bring more of a girl presence because I never felt like there was a place for us or that represented us, so I deiced to disrupt the boys’ party that was going on.”
Click through the gallery below to see more images from the campaign.