Upon researching existing shoe brands and show supply companies, I created a few design styles that reflected an original icon/identity that fits the core demographic, and lends enough information about the product/model, while still satisfying the client's affinity for an already-licensed (and nationally-known) University athletic brand. The logo was created in a way that would lead way towards marketing within the apparel industry - something the client mentioned in our meeting.
The initial (above) concept was rejected, as the client wanted more implication of an actual shoe for the second concept. This created a difficult challenge, as the core build was heavily focused on the University of Louisville Cardinal concept.
My solutions were to abandon all "cardinal" illustration styles to avoid any and all legality/confusion, and pivot to a more-recognizable shoe shape/illustration, which was another huge talking point in our initial meeting.
Another important factor was to create some high-quality digital renderings, and show the new concept in a mockup. This seemed to please the client, as the subsequent, newly-designed concept was modeled in full-color, with a custom full-page layout design look-book for the client's awareness and full-scale effect: