In 2019 Nike partnered with beloved tennis player Serena Williams to create the Serena Williams Design Crew. The SWDC is an apprenticeship program for young designers to work with Nike in efforts to establish a new generation of diverse designers. This September, the first collection will be released from the first cohort of SWDC.
Each year Nike plans to attract talent from a major U.S. city and the surrounding areas to recruit for the SWDC program. The first year was focused on talent from New York and the second cohort has been set, which will focus on Chicago. In January 2020, the first group of apprentices started their journeys at Nike’s World Headquarters in Portland, Oregon, where they spent a total of six months to produce the inaugural collection from the SWDC, which is now ready to be released. The collection consists of footwear, accessories, lifestyle apparel and performance apparel.
Through the apprenticeship program, Nike exposes each cohort to their resources and design knowledge around apparel, footwear, accessories, color, materials and 3D techniques. They also curate experiences for the talent and pair them with mentors to genuinely develop a new generation of talent. Following the completion of the first cohort’s program, Nike was able to convert seven out of 10 apprentices into full-time employees. Nike’s hope is to continue to invest into each apprentice’s career by landing them a design role within the company or with another entity.
Aside from Serena herself being a personal muse to the apprentices, SWDC’s first cohort was inspired by ‘90s style and West African Kente cloth for the prints. The collection includes bright hues of orange, functional jumpsuits, stylish activewear and innovative footwear.
The collection will be available on nike.com for purchase beginning September 1.