Christian Louboutin x SportyHenri

Christian Louboutin has embarked on his first-ever shoe collaboration: The designer has teamed with friend and former athlete Henri Tai — who recently launched the web site sportyhenri.com — on a capsule collection of sneakers.

This story first appeared in the September 13, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The two teamed earlier this summer to dress athletes for Cuba’s Olympic delegation.

“The collaboration is actually a take on that [Olympic] shoe that we’ve done for his site,” Louboutin told WWD of the tie-up.

While Louboutin has previously created shoes for brands including Rodarte, the company said those styles were purely Louboutin’s designs and that this new collection marks the first time he has taken design insight from someone else.

High-top and low-top styles are on offer — available in clean white with turquoise accents, a turquoise and black motif and in a repeating print laden with the Sporty Henri insignia. Produced in a limited run of 600, the styles will retail via Sporty Henri and in select Louboutin men’s boutiques for $895 to $1,195. They will become available for sale Wednesday.

“It’s because Henri is a very inspiring sportsman,” Louboutin said of why he decided to work with Tai. “His site is quite a unique site for men’s sports. He’s been a great translator about sports for me — if I go to a match he opens my eyes [about what’s going on]. This is not a thing I would do with a lot of people — Henri is definitely a great sportsman. If ever I find someone with as much passion for something as he has for sports I would consider it, but this doesn’t happen often,” he added.

The collaboration mark’s Tai’s site’s first tie-up as well. “I’m so happy to do this with Christian. It’s really important to be different and create something new in sports, and it’s important for me to find different designs to create an identity for my web site,” he said.

Tai — a former professional handball player — launched his web site that curates men’s performancewear and sport equipment in April.

Added Louboutin of the sneaker’s importance to his men’s offering: “I think the sneaker, strangely enough, is like the high heel of men. It has something quite sexy, you can can wear it anywhere just like a good pair of high heels for women. It can be worn in formalwear or in an incredibly relaxed way — even my president, who is 70, is wearing sneakers and he looks good.” (French President François Hollande is actually age 62.)

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