The Persian-bred Los Angeles native, who once wanted to become an attorney before finding her purpose in the arts, carved out a creative lane that caters to eclectic, edgy women with an affinity for giving old classics a fresh uplift. Since 2007, Ehsani has been serving the streets (and her celebrity pals) with gold midi rings, colorful necklaces and most recently, chic footwear for cozy girls.
Her latest design? A limited edition Reebok Question Mid, basketball icon Allen Iverson’s signature shoe from his days in the league. “It was the 20th anniversary of the shoe, and they knew I was a big fan, so they invited me to work on it,” she tells her sweat.
For this one-woman collab, Ehsani maintained the icy blue sole, a hat-tip to AI’s original design, and gave the sneaker ultra-feminine swag with vegetable tanned leather in three different textures and black patent toe bed. She also added AI’s “Hold My Own” tattoo on the tongue to truly bring The Answer’s sprit to the new sneak.
This isn’t her first go ’round with the Reebok Classic, though. She has created versions of the Pump Omni Lite, Betwixt Mid, Ventilator, Blacktop Pump and the classic leather.
As anyone can imagine, staying centered while ideating her next jewelry collection and debuting sneakers takes mastery. To practice, Ehsani jumpstarts with an early morning rise and “a meditation routine.” Whether she hits the gym or nah depends on her mood. “I try to do some sort of exercise usually,” she says.
Though you can no longer get your hands on the sold-out sneaks, her sweat. stole a few moments with Melody Ehsani while she travelled to get the scoop on the shoe’s design, her first OMG moment with A.I. and the advice she has for any woman trying to break into the sneaker biz.
her sweat.: The color palette is so fresh and feminine. Where did you draw your inspiration?
Melody Ehsani: I really wanted to use the vegetable tanned leather, and since this is such a masculine shoe, I thought the contrast of the material would be a nice and unexpected look.
When did you first meet Allen Iverson and his family?
I met them after his Hall of Fame induction. They’re a really beautiful family. I was particularly impressed with AI and his wife’s bond. They have that old school love, very reminiscent of high school for me, which makes sense because they’ve been together since they were 16. Their children are so well-mannered and smart. The girls were on set shooting the campaign for almost 11 hours, and I couldn’t believe how much I learned from them, and how patient and sweet they were. It’s a testament to how their parents raised them for sure.
What’s one piece of advice AI gave you that just sticks with you?
We didn’t talk enough for him to give me any type of advice personally. However, in general, I’ve always appreciated his unapologetic, “hold my own” attitude.
Are you a huge basketball fan?
“Huge” is an understatement! It’s a big part of what shaped my childhood. I have many personal memories, but when AI crossed over Jordan, that was an ultimate “damn, did you see that?” moment.
As one of the few women sneaker designers, what advice do you have for other women looking to break into the industry?
Be really authentic in your design. More and more I see girls who are trying to be like what they think people want to see, what they think will be accepted, what they think will make them cool or what they think the guys will like. It’s important to shut all those voices out and really get to your own. It takes time and discipline, but it’s the only thing that sticks and is real.
Many people don’t know that you started in shoe design before jewelry. Now that you’re back at it and your designs have been very well received, do you think you’ll create your own shoe collection?
Yeah, absolutely. This is what I do. If i do my own stuff, it will probably be more fashion-oriented. When it comes to performance shoes, there is so much research and technology involved that I would like to continue to do collaborations with companies that are well-versed in that area.
Which of your own shoe designs has been your favorite to date?
The first Pump Omni I did with reebok was my favorite. I drew the python pattern myself and put so many different secret details into the shoe. It was also the first time Reebok did a collaboration with a woman on this sneaker.
Lastly, the campaign is centered around one question: What do you stand for? So I ask, what do you stand for every day?
To challenge the status quo and remember who I really am, because it’s so easy to forget.