The Portland Trailblazers’ C.J. McCollum played in Nike sneakers his entire college and NBA career until he signed with Li-Ning in 2017. Now in his second season with the Chinese brand, McCollum has his own signature shoe, the YuShuai 12.
Previously only available overseas, the NBA star’s signature shoe and accompanying apparel line will be sold in the United States for the first time at a pop-up in Portland, Oregon. The highlight of that event — aside from an appearance by McCollum himself — is the “Rose City” YuShuai 12, which features a black and rose gold makeup, with a rose pattern on the forefoot in addition to other nods to Portland, also known as the Rose City.
The pop-up, located at Index Portland and open January 19 and 20, will carry three footwear styles, including last summer’s Black Jack-inspired “Ace of Spades” YuShuai 12 and a line of apparel. The YuShuai 12 retails for $160.
Highsnobiety caught up with McCollum ahead of the pop-up in Portland to discuss his new signature shoe, its release in the United States, and what goes into designing his kicks.
What’s it like to see your signature shoe and product line officially drop in the US for the first time?
Oh, it’s a great feeling. I’m excited, not only to have a shoe coming to the United States, but to be able to introduce the Li-Ning brand to a lot of fans who haven’t been exposed to it. Not just the shoes, but some of the gear that we have.
You’ve spoken in the past about having more input at Li-Ning, how heavily are you involved in the design process?
I am definitely heavily involved in the entire process in terms of the logo, colorways, and themes. We sit down at the end of the season and discuss some of the things that I enjoy doing, what I enjoy seeing on TV, or movies — I actually played in a Dark Knight-themed shoe the other night and will be playing in it in a few more games. It’s basically a Joker-themed shoe that one of my friends designed for me. I’m really happy to be able to really have voice in what I wear, how I wear it, and some of the designs that go into that.
What kind of changes have you seen off the court since signing for Li-Ning?
I am learning a lot more about Chinese culture. I’ve been to China three times and will continue to go there every summer for the next four or five years. You know, everybody is super swagged-out over there. It seems like they are a few steps ahead of us. I went a few summers ago, and some of the things they were doing and wearing is only now coming to the United States.
With sportswear and streetwear overlapping more and more recently, do you think that space is something you want to get into with Li-Ning?
I definitely want to be involved in the streetwear and lifestyle aspect. I think Dywane Wade’s done a great job of producing lifestyle shoes, not only his signature shoes on the court. With Li-Ning being a part of Paris Fashion Week I’m looking forward to having input and trying out some different style of shoes.
How has the NBA’s rule change with regard to the footwear allowed on court changed what you decide to wear during games?
Yeah, I think it opened the door for people and brands to show their creativity. Colorways and themed shoes don’t have to match your team’s colors. You can step outside that box and be creative and I’m really looking forward to it.
Where you do you envision your partnership with Li-Ning going?
I am definitely interested in continuing to expand and become more of a focal point and part of the brand. So, just looking forward to build, to continue to give feedback, expanding our partnership.
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