Serena Williams and Nike have unveiled a collection of women’s athleisure footwear, apparel, and accessories in a bid to bring people of color into the world of fashion design. The collections were designed by a group of 10 designers known as the Serena Williams Design Crew (SWDC).
In 2019, Williams and Nike partnered to create an apprenticeship program devised to champion diversity in the realm of design called SWDC. Ten designers were selected from New York and tasked to come up with a women’s lifestyle and performance collection that entailed footwear, apparel, and accessories inspired by Williams and the “1990s nostalgia.”
Williams said she collaborated with Nike in order to promote diversity in the fashion industry. Data from a 2021 Zippia industry analysis shows that only 6.3% of U.S. apparel makers are Blacks while nearly 60% are White. Latino and Asian Americans make up 15% and 13% of the U.S. fashion industry respectively.
“I want people from all walks of life to have the opportunity to be in the room,” Williams told CNN. “There’s so much incredible talent out there. I hope the next generation sees this program and is inspired to get involved.”
The footwear includes two offerings of the Nike Court Legacy, a red and navy pair designed with abstract patterns on its sides while the second option has a simple black and white theme. What is unique about each pair is that they feature four gilded eyelets to honor Williams’ gold medals and jeweled embellishments on the Swooshes.
Also, the apparel section has a variety of products, including mesh jerseys and shorts, performance bras and shorts, patterned overalls, sweatpants, quarter zips, and track jackets.
According to CNN, the clothes will be available on Nike’s website and in stores beginning September 1. Prices range from $20 for a pair of socks to $230 for a tennis tote bag. “Every design decision, down to the smallest details, was made with Serena in mind,” CNN cited Nike as saying.
Nike has in recent days come under fire by a host of athletes over its pregnancy policy. Writing in the New York Times, Olympian Allyson Felix said she quit the brand because she was told to ‘know her place’ when she spoke up and pushed back hard against the company to put a system in place to ensure that female Nike athletes wouldn’t be punished for pregnancy.
She has been a Nike athlete for years and has appeared in promotions and seen wearing their logo on her racing tops and shorts. In 2018, she spoke out about life-threatening childbirth that nearly claimed her life and that of her daughter, Camryn. Felix had to undergo an emergency C-section to have her child.