Mimi Plange, a Ghanaian fashion designer, has collaborated with NBA star LeBron James and sportswear brand Nike for a sneaker project which involves the creation of a series of colorways of the LeBron 18 Low.
Her first sneaker design in the collaboration with LeBron James and Nike is dubbed The Nike Lebron 18 Low x Mimi Plange “Higher Learning”, and it was officially released on May 23, 2021.
The design is inspired by LeBron James and varsity jackets that are a powerful symbol of sport and school.
“Growing up, something I always loved while going through school was varsity style,” Plange said. “The varsity jacket was this ultimate attempt to explore identity. You could tell the story of everything you did in high school because you won your letters – for basketball, for track, for performing arts, for anything.”
The Nike Lebron 18 Low x Mimi Plange “Higher Learning” features shades of mustard, burgundy, pink and crimson, trimmed with striped rib accents, along with LeBron James’ “Just a Kid from Akron” mantra stamped on the footbed and a lion mascot.
Mimi Plange’s design ambitions reflect careful thinking of diversity as a mechanism that can, in fact, highlight relationships between groups. She remembers the profound cultural shift she sensed when she moved from her home country of Ghana to Southern California at five years old.
“My interests are in people,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of experiences with many different groups of people, so I’ve lived through contrasts, like coming from Ghana and growing up in California, like not having a lot of money growing up and yet participating in honours classes, which included a specific kind of student. I think those experiences, along with the ability to travel as an adult, were big reasons why I design the way I do, because you’re able to see that the world is a lot smaller than you think, and that people are not as segmented or opposite in thought as you might think they are.”
She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley and attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in California. After her education, she moved to New York and worked for American designers, Patricia Fields and Rachel Roy.
Mimi Plange and her Paris born Senegalese business partner, Ibrahim Ndoye, created the fashion brand Boudoir D’huîtres, but she later renamed the brand after herself, Mimi Plange, in 2010.
Her designs are influenced by African heritage. Mimi Plange’s designs have been worn by many influential people including Serena Williams, Viola Davis, Rihanna, Gabrielle Union, Janelle Monae, Paris Hilton, Michelle Trachtenberg, Regina Davis, Vanessa Hudgens, Awkwafina and former U.S.A First Lady Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama invited Mimi Plange to the White House for her Celebration of Design Event in 2016.
In 2011, Mimi Plange was awarded International Emerging Designer of the Year at the Mercedes-Benz Africa Fashion Week held in South Africa. In 2012, the team at Mercedes Benz Fashion named the brand the Designer of the Year. That same year, Mimi Plange won Mayor Bloomberg’s Design Entrepreneurs Award in New York.
In 2015 she collaborated with furniture designers Roche Bobois to create Mahjong tiles and sofas dressed with her materials that were made in Burkina Faso.
Mimi Plange has also been featured in British Vogue, The New York Times, T Magazine, Vogue.com, Ebony Magazine, Vogue UK, Vogue India, WWD, Harpers Bazar, Marie Claire, Essence, Glamour Magazine, Cosmopolitan, and Nylon Magazine.
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