December 6, 2012 BY Brendan Dunne
Dwyane Wade is making some major moves with Li-Ning, showing the public that he intends to be involved with his WADE Brand under the Chinese footwear giant at every level. His first design team hire as Chief Brand Officer is Alejandro Ingelmo, an award winning fashion designer who will be filling the role of Creative Consultant for Special Projects. Hot on the heels of this announcement, Sneaker News got a chance to sit down with Ingelmo to discuss the new partnership and give you guys the inside scoop on this new WADE Brand development. Click through to check out the interview and let us know if you’re excited to see what comes from this D-Wade executive decision. Also, look for Alejandro Ingelmo’s first WADE Brand design to hit in Spring 2013 after debuting at his February Fashion Week show in NYC.
Sneaker News: Prior to you signing on with Li-Ning, did you have a relationship with Dwyane already and how did this partnership come to be?
Alejandro Ingelmo: You know, he’s been a fan of my shoes for a while and his stylist approached me about making a special order because I didn’t make his size, so that’s kinda how the relationship started. And he asked me if I would help out with his line and I thought it was a great opportunity. He understands my design aesthetic and he likes it. I also think his sense of style is very unique and few other basketball players have that so I thought it would be a great opportunity.
SN: For our readers who aren’t familiar, can you give us a little background on your design work and approach and what makes you a good fit for Li-Ning and the Wade line?
AI: Four generations of shoemakers in my family. I started my first store about two years ago. I’m based out of New York, originally out of Miami, Cuban background. What I do design-wise, it’s very modern, but there’s also a lot of attention to detail, well crafted. And those are things that are very important to me in terms of using beautiful materials and letting the design speak for itself.
SN: Have you and Dwyane worked collaboratively during the design process and if so, what kind of insights did he have?
AI: He’s played an important part in the design and I felt like it was important to understand his philosophies and just really looking at the way he dresses. So with designing this shoe, it was really important for it to have that off court appeal to it, but yet it was still something that you can play basketball in. So what’s out there in the market now, you can wear it off the court, but very casually. You probably wouldn’t wear it if you were wearing a jacket or going somewhere a little more dressed up, so that was kinda the idea. How can you take it a little bit further and I wanted to use really good quality materials and take the “sometimes less means more” approach to things. Making sure it’s the right stitching and things like that. More about design, less about branding, you know?
SN: You touched on this a minute ago. Dwyane is known for some bold style choices in what he wears off the court. How far will you guys push the boundaries on some of the Li-Ning stuff that we see on the court?
AI: I really like this whole idea of gentleman assassin, and that’s kinda like his thing. More of a dapper way of dressing and kinda mixing it with different aesthetics, so there’s definitely a classical aspect to the designs and what we’re gonna be doing. So I kinda feel like that’s the approach we’ll be taking with this. And sometimes let the materials be the innovative part. I don’t wanna say wild, but the more unexpected details.
SN: How far along in the process did you come on board and were you involved with any of the early Way of Wade colorways that we’ve seen already?
AI: I was brought on a couple months ago and in terms of what you’ve seen already, there were some designs that they asked me on, but what we’re gonna do in the future and what we’re doing now is more of a marriage that that was.
SN: So the designs that you’ve been more heavily involved with, we won’t be seeing until a little further down the road?
SN: What are you most excited about with this project and moving forward to some of the upcoming stuff that we’ll be seeing from Li-Ning and the Wade line?
AI: I’m excited about working with Wade and this is just kind of a new area for me. It’s gonna be interesting to see what I can bring and what I can do, so I’m excited about that. I feel like it’s important to really put something out there that’s beautifully made and having the consumer understand that.