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Nike Taps NYC ‘Creative Community’ to Build Next Serena Williams Capsule

Nike and Serena Williams are aiming for a grand slam with their latest collab.

The sportswear giant and tennis champ are teaming up and “taking a new approach” to Williams’ next apparel and footwear capsule, enlisting the help of New York City’s best local designers to bring diverse points of view to clothing and shoes unveiled throughout 2020.

A design competition that began Oct. 18 at Nike’s New York City headquarters will select the winners, who hail from “schools, institutions and collectives” including local organizations like Harlem’s Fashion Row.

The team for the capsule will be determined through a kind of design competition being held at Nike’s NYC headquarters, which started earlier in the month on Oct. 18. For a time, designers from “schools, institutions and collectives” including local organizations like Harlem’s Fashion Row, will get a day at the HQ to workshop possible designs and ideas.

After executing a series of “design prompts” conceived by Nike’s design experts, the pool of prospects will be whittled down to the 10 lucky finalists who will commence a seven-month design apprenticeship at the company’s Oregon headquarters that will produce the Serena Williams capsule collection.

“I’m excited for these designers to hone their craft, expand their creativity and ultimately dream big as they build on Nike’s design legacy in creating for one of the greatest athletes of all time,” John Hoke, chief design officer at Nike, said. “We know their impact will be widely felt and look forward to having them as part of our creative community.”

Nike added that this project is essentially a continuation of its work to bring “diverse perspectives” to its design process, such as through a similar six-month apprenticeship it operates called “Nike x Design” to recruit promising product designers in Los Angeles.

This isn’t the first time Williams has stepped outside the box to execute a clothing capsule. In 2018, she released her own line of tops, hoodies, dresses and denim made with vegan-friendly materials in the United States.

Other athletic brands have also sought to bring in a more diverse collection of designers by tapping into the creativity of local communities. Adidas recently announced the next step of its “MakerLab” project, a program designed to bring the ideas of small-time designers to mainstream exposure by offering a select few the chance to sell their sneakers on StockX.

Earlier in October, Adidas invited three designers from Japanese brand Recouture to participate in a documentary to show off Makerlab’s potential.