When I previously heard that the NBA All Star game was going to be in Kobe Bryant’s backyard (Los Angeles), I knew Nike Basketball would celebrate that event with an array of new product. But I didn’t expect Nike Basketball graphic designer, Erick Goto, to take a whimsical new approach to sneaker design and color blocking.
Paying homage to Los Angeles’ unique neighborhoods, The Zoom Kobe VI “Neighborhood Pack” represents and draws inspiration from Orange County, East LA, and Hollywood. The kicks also use a special printing process known as dye sublimation to graphically enhance the visuals of the sneakers. Many of you familiar with garment design (especially tee shirt printing) have seen this process before. We’ve experimented with sublimation ourselves over here at EC. The process involves printing a graphic out on a special printer, then heating that print to over 400 degrees. At that point, the molecules come off the page and grab onto the fabric next to it.
The next step involves pouring a transparent polyurethane layer over the sublimated fabric (seen above). That polyurethane layer takes on the shape of the typical Zoom Kobe VI that we’re used to seeing, as it still has the scaly features of the black mamba snake.
All 3 of the Zoom Kobe VI’s in the “Neighborhood Collection” take advantage of this unique sublimation graphic to push the limits on graphic design in sneakers.
The Zoom Kobe VI “Orange County” nods to the iconic sunsets in the OC. Also, a special cannon blue compliments the total orange and provides for a unique mash-up of colors on a sneaker.
The Zoom Kove VI “East LA” references the blue from East LA’s favorite team, The Dodgers, as well as hints to the Latino roots of the area. LA sky and clouds are sublimated onto the shoe’s upper as the heel cup and sock liner contain traditional lines of the tattoos that come from the area.
The Zoom Kobe VI “Hollywood” sneaker takes design into the 3rd dimension as it employs the sublimation technique to create a real working anaglyphic 3-D effect when looked at through 3D glasses. Another unique aspect of this pair is that the swooshes on one side of the shoes are blue, while they are red on the other side. So the colors will change depending on which way a player is running on court.