The debut Serena Williams Design Crew (SWDC) collection is releasing in fall 2021. The capsule, which includes apparel, footwear and accessories, was designed by the inaugural SWDC apprenticeship cohort, represented by 10 designers from diverse backgrounds. Below, Serena shares some of the values that guide the program, describes the qualities she sees in the apprentices, and emphasizes why diversity matters – not only for the future of design, but for the future. Period.
Sport might be one of the most diverse communities we have in this world. And the best version of sport is always the one that’s open to everyone. Sport inspires me, and I hope to inspire others through it too.
That’s where I saw the Serena Williams Design Crew making an impact. With Nike, I’m bringing my love for sport and design together, working to build more inclusive, equitable communities in both while inspiring new generations to fall in love with sport and pursue their dreams.
I’ve always surrounded myself with people from different backgrounds, cultures and walks of life. I know the value of diversity in making us better. When you have diversity, you discover new perspectives, which leads to new ideas and ultimately toward better results.
In sport and in design, I always want the best result possible. And it’s the same for Nike. That’s why I’m so proud of our partnership on the Serena Williams Design Crew program and the opportunity for change we’re creating together.
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Representation is important. I believe exposure — just seeing what’s possible — is one of the biggest drivers in creating change. The idea for the Serena Williams Design Crew came from conversations I had with Nike about how we could work together to increase diversity in design as a whole. I wanted everyone to be seen, and Nike worked with me to make it happen.
How would I explain the program we created? This program is an opportunity for people who otherwise may have never gotten a chance to design for the biggest sport company in the world. I hope this propels these designers in their careers and their lives. And I hope their experience will inspire others to see themselves in design too.
When I go into a design studio, I want to see everyone at the table and involved: someone who looks like me, my dad, my husband. I want the designers working with me to know their experiences are valuable, their skills real, their voices heard and respected. That’s also the future I want for my daughter.
The apprentices have so many qualities I see in myself. They have passion. They’re perfectionists. In design reviews, they’d ask over and over, “Is it good enough?” They go above and beyond.
Now, our first collection is releasing to the world. It’s a little surreal.
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Valuing diversity doesn’t just mean changing the way things currently are. It’s about changing the future. We say in our manifesto: We want to inspire and engage the most inclusive and accepting generation the world has ever seen. And we can only be what we can see.