“Imma be a star” is what a young James Harden wrote when he was just a freshman at  Artesia High School in Lakewood, California. Years later, after spending two seasons at Arizona State, he would go drafted third by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2009 NBA draft. This made him the first player to be drafted by the franchise as the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was there he would reach the 2012 NBA Finals with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but the team would fall short against the Miami Heat. Shortly after, James Harden had a chance to write a new chapter with the Houston Rockets when he was traded to in the offseason. It was there where he established himself as a truly a remarkable player.

On the feet of every remarkable player, are as equally remarkable sneakers. For James Harden, they are the adidas Harden Vol.1, and they are the first ever signature shoe for the four-time NBA All-Star and Olympic gold medal winner. This is the first sneaker that has been designed from the ground up and it’s meant to speak to Harden’s basketball prowess, as well as his appreciation for style.

According to Brian Foresta, VP of Basketball Design, the sneaker is first and foremost, basketball-centric. It features a full-length Boost cushioning that offers combination of comfort and performance. He noted that the rounded toe box was deliberately left unstitched to allow Harden to naturally shift from one movement to the next. In the same vein, the leather that makes up the toe box was not only stylistic choice but it’s also a material that has proven its durability. This idea of natural movement was also addressed with the decision to place the laces on the side, which relieves pressure at the top of the foot. The Harden Vol.1 is then finished off with a adidas’ Primeknit material, which offers more flexibility and breathability.

One notable design choice was the lack of a clear logo on the Harden Vol.1. It was actually James Harden that emphasized that he didn’t want his logo to be noticeable, as he felt they are antiquated. Instead, Harden preferred that the uniqueness of the sneaker be the focal point.

In terms of colourways, the “Pioneer” (Red/White/Black) and “Home” (White/Red) colourway of looks more like a basketball shoe. This is evident in the “Pioneer”, as it celebrates the championship game performance of a young James Harden who scored 22 points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished three assists and recorded two steals to secure a second-straight California state title in high school. You’ll spot the championship date (March 24, 2007) on  on the left sockliner, while his game stats are placed on the right sockliner. However, the more lifestyle-looking sneakers consists of the recently released “Imma Be a Star” Harden Vol.1 and the upcoming “Gila” and “Cargo” iterations.  

To further highlight James Harden’s affinity for fashion, adidas has also released an accompanying apparel collection that consists of a mix of shirting, bottoms, and outerwear. The pieces were made to be slightly oversized to allow for ample layering, and James Harden worked with adidas’ key designers to ensure functionality and style throughout.

Take a look at the imagery from the launch event in Houston and you can pick up the Harden Vol.1 “Pioneer” tomorrow, December 3rd at adidas.


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Photography by Jon Carlo Tapia.


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