- Words Miriam Balanescu
A crew of design apprentices chosen by the tennis colossus, Serena Williams, are the makers behind a new Nike collection.
In 2019, Serena Williams and sportswear brand Nike put out a call for the next generation of designers, all from underrepresented communities. With help from Harlem’s Fashion Row and New York’s fashion schools including the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons, the emerging designers were uncovered. The selected 10 were put to work over 18 months, serving up items and garments which could be worn by the formidable tennis player herself as well as forming Nike’s next collection.
The resulting line plays within the court of Serena’s life and career: her daughter’s initials OO – also meaning love in tennis-speak – feature, while West African Kente fabric are bestowed with hidden S monograms. Her 23 Grand Slam titles are also nodded towards in tape, while her serving arm is accentuated through nifty design. A patterned jumpsuit, grassy green tennis-suit with a sky-blue shoulder and steely blue and grey sportswear are ready for matches.
Footwear is also on the ball with trainers in Nike Court Legacy, Air Max Koko, and RYZ 365 2 styles. Of the 10 designers from underrepresented communities, 7 now work at Nike full-time.
On the collection, Williams has said: “The world isn’t one colour. We come from different backgrounds and think differently. When you bring all that diversity together, can you begin to imagine the amazing things that you are able to make?”
The programme’s second round of designers is already stitching away at the next line, while applications are now open to US based designers for 2022’s cohort.