Nike outlines its investment in women at the Future 50 for its event
“When I came out of college, women had black, white, gray, navy, light blue,” said Lisa Leslie, who was referring to women’s limited options in the clothing category. sport. “And I was like, ‘You don’t have anything pink?'”
A lot has changed since Leslie joined the Nike team and became one of the main players in the new WNBA in 1996. Nike has always worked with female athletes – Olympic gold medalist Mary Decker became its first sponsored athlete in 1978, and in 1979 Nike signed Joan Benoit Sameulson to its athlete roster, but the company is doubling down on its investment in women with a more 360-degree approach, which it described at its event Future 50 for Her which took place last week in Los Angeles.
Professional female athletes remain important to Nike. The company announced earlier this year that it would invest in the WNBA and recently signed its first high school athletes, footballers and sisters Alyssa and Gisele Thompson. The Thompson sisters along with Chloe Kim, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Brandi Chastain, Leslie, Benoit and Tunde Oyeneyin, who hosted the evening, all attended a dinner that took place at Nike headquarters in Los Angeles.
But Nike also tries to meet every woman wherever she is on her journey – “If you’ve got a body, you’re an athlete”, a quote from Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman has come up frequently throughout the company. event. Nike has partnered with choreographers like Parris Goebel, musicians like Megan Thee Stallion, Billie Eilish and Rosalía, and Nike yoga coach Rebeckah Price, who led a meditation Tuesday morning at Nike’s Blue Ribbon Sports Community Center, the company’s first outlet in Santa Monica. , California. And he makes sure that this diversity carries over to his product.
“Some women want a little movement with their leggings,” said Tania Flynn, vice president of womenswear product design at Nike. “I learned from Megan that when she’s on stage she wants to feel like she can move in her leggings.” Flynn was speaking during a panel that detailed how Nike is dedicating science and research to understanding the female body, resulting in a broader offering of sports bras and leggings.
And while leggings have become a staple in many women’s daily routines, Nike also caters to women on the lifestyle and fashion front. He showcased his collection with French label Jacquemus, which uses innovative, lightweight fabrics constructed in fashion-forward silhouettes, as well as his upcoming launches with Yoon of Ambush and Martine Rose.
And Nike supports women at the retail level. Beth Birkett, who is co-owner of Union and runs Bephies Beauty Supply, spoke at a panel dedicated to women traders which included Sally Aguirre from Sally’s Shoes, Abby Albino from Makeway, Jennifer Ford from Premium Goods and Julie Hogg from Wish Atlanta.
Union has a long-standing relationship with Nike, but Birkett is beginning to work with the team through her brand, Bephies Beauty Supply, which she launched during the pandemic in 2020.
“I’ve always wanted to start something. Being part of Union for as long as I have, I have always believed that there should be a strong female perspective. But I had so much to do that I never really got to do it,” Birkett said. “But the pandemic gave us time, so I launched the brand as a diverse market and had my partnership with Jordan. And I really hope to inspire women, especially black and brown women, to enter the creative world and start designing, whether it’s shoes or clothes. Women help to push the culture forward.
Birkett revealed that the Union x Nike Cortez sneaker was inspired by the Ethiopian hats that Gibbs loved, and weaving is incorporated into the sneaker, which will come in four different colorways and release this year.
“It’s a very different take on a Cortez. And it’s a very important silhouette for the Latinx community and the black community. So it was really different to race with the Ethiopian benchmark,” Birkett said.
Birkett also added that she has a collaboration with Jordan Brand under Bephies Beauty Supply. It will be a Jordan 7 that will feature the Bephies Beauty Supply logo and the collection will also include apparel.
“I’m saying this right now, but I don’t really think about [the challenges I’ve faced as a woman of color] more be challenges,” Birkett said when Karie Conner, Vice President/General Manager of Nike North America Kids’ Business, was asked about the barriers she faces in the industry. “All the things that I went through working in this industry and trying to be seen, I think they all became my superpowers that made me who I am. I mean you have to work harder hard and it’s definitely not easy. And then you also have to express yourself. And so I learned all these things about myself and about not being afraid. You’re going to have bullies and boys who will say to you: ‘Why are you in there?’ But you just have to learn to fight for yourself and prove them wrong.