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For Kobe Bryant, looking back on his legendary career can ignite a multitude of different feelings. Reminiscing about his early days has caused Kobe to consider his influences, as well as the athletes who helped him mould his game and relentless work ethic. The opportunity to reminisce sparked Bryant's memories of playing with legends like Charles Barkley, Gary Payton and Penny Hardaway.
Recognised by Bryant as the players who helped mould his game, Penny, Charles and Payton's footwear also left a lasting impression. Still vivid in his mind, the memory of Penny's Air Up, GP's 'The Glove' and Chuck's CB34 Max sparked a unique idea that came to life when crafting his latest sneaker.
With the idea established and direction straight from Kobe, Petrenka and his fellow designers began to investigate how to combine three iconic silhouettes in a sophisticated, lifestyle-driven aesthetic, all set atop the tooling of the Zoom Kobe VI.
"Rather than doing it in bits and pieces", says Petrenka, "we wanted to tell the story through layering. So, the shoe first reads as The Glove because it's shrouded. Then, if you look closer at the Jacquard pattern on the gold edition, you can see some of the aggressive lines from the Air Up. When you peel back The Glove, you can see the eyestay from the CB34 Max."
Storytelling on the Zoom Kobe Icon extends beyond the physical design. Along with the legends that inspired Bryant, some of Kobe's biggest career moments are celebrated through a unique set of hieroglyphics. "Graphically we wanted to take a system that used a combination of true, existing hieroglyphics and some newly created hieroglyphics crafted by us to really tell that Kobe story according to specifics in his life", reveals colour and graphic designer Devon McKinney.
Looking at the shoe, there are two different sets of storytelling hieroglyphics. According to McKinney, "each set of icons on the inner tongue represents one of the three athletes who inspired the shoe. You have Penny with the Lil Penny hieroglyph and then his two initials, AP. Next you have a hand representing 'The Glove', nickname for Gary Payton. And then the last one, Barkley, is represented with a hieroglyph depicting a dragon. Moving on to the collar lining, you'll find special hieroglyphics celebrating iconic moments in Bryant's career, such as his 81-point game and his five championship rings."
Ultimately, Petrenka describes the silhouette laced with iconic DNA the best. "It wasn't just the fact that these three shoes were some of his favourite shoes while he was crafting his game and growing up in basketball, it was these three players who influenced his style of play, and they're important to how he became the legendary player he is today."
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