Basketball player Stephen Curry’s latest collaboration with sportswear brand Under Armour took inspiration from an unlikely place: Tanzanian-born, British-raised architect David Adjaye’s Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Following a visit to the museum, which was completed in 2016, Curry was inspired to create a new colorway for his signature Curry 7 shoes and release it in time for Black History month.
The 400,000 square-foot, $540 million museum is a feat of design: With its striking bronze-colored exterior, the building is designed to amplify the story of the African-American experience told through the exhibits. The shape of the multitiered building was inspired by Yoruban Caryatids, wooden statues of female figures found in East Africa.
The “Our History” Curry 7 aims to incorporate some of these features in its design. The colors of the shoe—olive, brown, and neon green—are layered to reflect the three inverted box shapes that form the exterior of the museum. The shoe features fabric sections near the heels with patterned perforations mimicking designs on the museum walls. The building’s longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates are also printed on the heel tab, and a pattern near the heel of the shoe recalls the bronze-colored cast-aluminum lattice panels on the building exterior that reference ironwork made by enslaved workers in New Orleans and South Carolina in the 19th century.
The collaboration did not end with the shoe: Adjaye Associates also created a box to go with the limited edition sneakers, which retail for $140, though the box is not available on the market; Under Armour and Curry gave them to select friends and family members.
It’s a refreshing idea for Curry, who has not always embraced discerning design. His Curry 2 low “Chef” sneakers, released in 2016, were relentlessly mocked on the internet for looking geriatric. Twitter users piled on, coming up with alternative names including, “The Seinfeld 2s,” “Dad Force Ones,” “The Registered Nurse VIIs,” and “Metamucil 6s.”
“The Our History colorway is special,” Curry says in a statement. “It reflects on our history and those who helped build it.”
Curry is crucial to Under Armour’s business. After the athlete signed with with Under Armour, sales of the company’s basketball shoes grew by 350%, Business Insider reported in 2016. In recent years, the company has struggled with overall sales and reports of a toxic corporate culture, and market analysts see Curry as a critical piece of the company’s comeback. In 2018, when Curry almost left the brand over comments made by former CEO Kevin Plank supporting President Donald Trump, Plank agreed to build a separate business for Curry, similar to Nike’s separate Michael Jordan brand.