PUMA is working with local Black creatives to debut Charlotte Hornets star LaMelo Ball’s new clothing and shoe releases.
The brand unveiled the LaFrancé Collection, a collaboration between LaMelo Ball’s official lifestyle brand of the same name, Wednesday at the Charlotte Art League. The collection includes new apparel and the MB.03, LaMelo Ball’s third signature sneaker with PUMA, the shoe company announced.
The PUMA x LaFrancé collection is showcased in a one-day exhibition that includes the work of local artists Marcus Kiser, Justin Henderson, Chadwick Cartwright and Kalin Devone. Each artist created original work to reflect the abstract and floral design of Ball’s latest release.
“Melo wants his collection to be viewed as a work of art,” Dasia Hood, who managed the project with PUMA, told QCity Metro. “PUMA wanted the collection to make a connection with the local art community.”
Hood was hired by the brand’s partner marketing agency, Trill Multicultural, to get local artists involved with the collection release.
She hand-picked each artist to give the exhibition a gallery-type of experience.
“A local art gallery in Charlotte was the perfect backdrop to celebrate the official PUMA x LaFrancé launch, as the collection was inspired by art,” a PUMA spokesperson told QCity Metro. “Ahead of Melo’s upcoming season with the Charlotte Hornets, we are excited to give local Charlotte fans an exclusive opportunity to shop the collection before it officially is in stores on October 6.”
The exhibition is free and open to the public at the Charlotte Art League from 12 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Customers can purchase Ball’s shoes at the showing.
Learn more about the participating artists:
Marcus Kiser – graphic designer
Kiser was tasked with designing the exhibition layout. As an artist and graphic designer, he is known for his three-dimensional print designs, often found in studio art, books and other products.
He draws inspiration from classical art, comic books and current social and political issues.
He is best known for his traveling Afro-futuristic sci-fi art exhibit, Intergalactic Soul. Most recently, he partnered with former Hornets forward Kelly Oubre Jr. for a unique fashion collaboration.
He has also produced work with Jordan Brand and Adidas.
“Working with the team has been great. There were some tight deadlines, but Dasia made the process easy,” Kiser told QCity Metro. “Most of my work was internal concept and production design for the event, so I did a lot of the backend design.”
Henderson is an abstract and animation artist who takes character designs and fuses them into different backgrounds.
The Charlotte native had his first exhibition in 2014 through a collaboration with Dupp and Swat,
His most recent projects include designs for Art Pop Street Gallery and a collaboration with Charlotte Knights for its HBCU-themed night.
Henderson themed his painting as “royalty and finesse,” an ode to the vintage Hornets and Ball’s style of play. He took designs and bright colors from some of the apparel and sneakers to create his abstract piece.
He said this piece helped him reflect back on his start as an artist and how far he’s come.
“I’m grateful for all the opportunities because I’m used to hearing ‘no’ when it comes to opportunities,” he told QCity Metro. “But when I hear the yes, I see the fruit of my labor…it lets me know I’m right where I’m supposed to be.”
Originally from East Orange, N.J., Cartwright is a self-taught visual artist.
His work emphasizes the use of texture, line work and soft curves.
Cartwright’s most recent projects include a mural he created for the Mint Museum’s “Picasso Landscapes” and a billboard with Art Pop Street Art.
In painting for the exhibition, Cartwright took one of Ball’s favorite quotes, “Be You,” and wrote it repeatedly across the canvas to create his painting. He tiled the Puma logo across the design to add texture and stamped it with the LaFrancé logo.
The quote is a mantra he took for himself, being given full creative control over his painting.
“If you’re not being yourself, you’ve already lost,” Cartright said.
Devone is a multidisciplinary artist initially from Wilmington, N.C.
Her work mainly focuses on portraitures with abstract backgrounds.
She curated her first solo exhibition in 2019 called Perpetual. Her most recent exhibitions include Local Street in 2021 and 2022 and the Brooklyn Collective, “The Renaissance of Brooklyn,” in 2023.
In Ball’s exhibition, she painted a portrait of the Hornet’s star guard with a Puma basketball and a background collage of his new shoes with Ball’s catchphrase, “Not from here.”
The exhibition is a full circle moment for Kalin Devone, who began her career sketching celebrity portraits.
“I hope it feels like him to him,” Devone said.
Set to launch on Oct. 6, The PUMA x LaFrancé collection will retail for $40 to $125. It will be available on Puma’s website and app as well as Foot Locker, Kids’ Foot Locker and, the PUMA NYC Flagship store and LaFrancé.com.