LOS ANGELES — On Saturday, Dwyane Wade and Li-Ning hosted a special event at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, which included Wade conducting a shootaround and Li-Ning unveiling a preview of their Spring 2018 collection, which of course includes the Way of Wade line of sneakers and apparel.
Wade turned a lot of heads back in 2012 when he left the Jordan brand to sign an exclusive shoe deal with the Chinese company. Since that time, Li-Ning has scooped up other NBA stars, but the brand is just now beginning to gain some traction and visibility in the United States.
After unveiling a portion of the 2018 Way of Wade line and giving away ultra-limited-edition pairs of the Way of Wade Six to some raffle winners, Wade sat down for a media roundtable Q and A session. He talked about Li-Ning and Way of Wade focusing on the Chinese market in order to gain momentum for a push into the U.S., and he also spoke to his hands-on approach with the design of Way of Wade, and the difficulties in trying to build a brand from the ground up.
“Early on in the process, we didn’t have a big team when I came into Li-Ning, just a few of us, trying to build a brand,” Wade remembers. “We didn’t have apparel, we didn’t have lifestyle shoes. We just had a basketball shoe. So we definitely have grown. And to be successful, I think everyone knows, you have to have great people around you that can take your vision even beyond what you think it could be, or thought it could be.”
He turned one of the limited edition pairs over in his hand as he contemplated the design process. “So with Li-Ning brand, what we’ve done is we’ve put great people around [me], man. From the basketball side, we’ve got multiple people who design my shoes and give me options. We sit down, I talk about what I want to see, and also what they want to see. I don’t want it all to be, ‘D-Wade designed this.’ It’s a collaboration, and a brand. Not only do I walk the life and see what’s out there and what I like, but also the designers. They are creative, and you want them to be creative. We sit down and kind of collab on what it is we want to see. And that’s on the apparel side, as well.”