Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Carter-Williams wasn’t all that accustomed to designing shoes with shark skin and broguing (that’s fancy talk for the perforations that stylize a pair of Oxfords or Balmorals). But he adopted the process quite quickly while working with Allen Edmonds to create a special edition MCW5 dress shoe.
“Yeah, this was my first time (designing dress shoes),” Carter-Williams tells SI.com. “I thought it was really interesting, all the different types of leathers, skins that go into the shoe.”
The collaboration started when the 2014 Rookie of the Year needed to improve his dress shoe options. After a connection with Allen Edmonds, he started wearing their shoes and liked the feel. “I got to build relationships with the people down there and they asked me if I wanted to make a shoe and I was interested,” he says. “I didn’t know what would come of it. I thought I would make something little and see where it goes and it ended up being a really nice shoe that a lot of people really like.”
Carter-Williams paired black leather with a sharkskin upper and grey stitching. Flat laces create a lower profile, a green eyelet provides a nod to his Milwaukee jersey color and an all-weather Dainite rubber sole adds an all-purpose dynamic to the shoe.
Carter-Williams says he started with a “pretty straightforward” style. “They are great at what they do,” he says about the process. “It came from something really simple.”
As Allen Edmonds sells the shoe—it retails online for $295—through the end of December, 10% of all sales will benefit Special Olympics Wisconsin. “I’ve been dealing with the Special Olympics since I was young,” Carter-Williams says. “On Sundays I used to go help monitor little soccer practices.”
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A close family friend’s son had Down syndrome, Carter-Williams says, but the two would always play basketball together. “He used to sit and watch me play and I admired how he loved the game so much,” he says. “Once I got to the NBA I wanted to continue to work with the Special Olympics and those with special needs.”
While Carter-Williams doesn’t pull out the special MCW5 shoes every night, bringing them out “every so often” and mixing in shoes from his sneaker collection—the Nike athlete wears the Kobe X highs on the court—the MCW5 design still serves as Carter-Williams’s inaugural run in the shoe design world. And the point guard hopes it won’t be his last.
“I definitely want to do another dress shoe,” he says. “And it has always been a dream of mine to have my own (sneaker) one day.”
For Carter-Williams, his signature style starts with sharkskin.
Watch Carter-Williams and the Bucks tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers (8 p.m. TNT).
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, sneakers and technology for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.