Nineties mixed with the present, mixed with the future. That is how the inaugural Serena Williams Design Crew collection is best described.
In 2019, the tennis star and her apparel sponsor partnered to establish the SWDC apprenticeship with the goal of helping designers from underrepresented backgrounds to launch their careers while at the same time infusing diversity into designs. Ten apprentices from New York were involved in this newly-launched collection spanning clothes, shoes and accessories inspired by Serena.
When it comes to the palette, black, olive and orange are dominant colors. The overall vibe is very similar to Naomi Osaka’s Nike collection, probably because similar colors are used.
A zigzag pattern that’s inspired by Kente cloth dominates the Serena Williams Design Crew collection. Originating in West Africa, Kente cloth is a vibrant handwoven textile that’s steeped in the cultural traditions of the Ashanti people, among others. When you look at the print closely, you can see that it spells out an “S” that stands for Serena.
According to Vogue, the tennis icon’s favorite piece is the Serena Williams Design Crew Jumpsuit, a functional item that brings back the 90s. Who would’ve thought that sporty, loose-fitting jumpsuits would ever come back?
Basketball-inspired Serena Williams Design Crew Jersey Dress features the embroidered “Williams 00” on the back as a tribute to her daughter Olympia Ohanian. The number zero also refers to “love” in tennis.
A long-sleeved turtleneck colorblocked Serena Williams Design Crew Bodysuit features asymmetrical cutouts at chest and upper back and on the smooth tape down each side immortalizes every year the WTA ace won a Grand Slam.
The collection also offers one-shoulder sports bras, printed shorts, crew t-shirts, pants, two versions of a crop top, a hoodie with mesh overlay, as well as accessories such as a luxe tote with multiple zippered pockets, socks, and a black bucket hat.
Shoe styles perfectly complement the retro/futuristic vibe of the clothes: Nike Court Legacy, Air Max Koko, and RYZ 365 2 sneaker designs.
Jonathan Johnsongriffin, Nike VP, Global Creative Director explained just how involved Serena was in the design process:
Serena has been so committed to the program. She wants to meet each apprentice. She wants to see their portfolios. She wants to be a part of the briefing of the product. She wants to be a part of the design reviews.
Tania Flynn, Nike VP, Women’s Apparel Product Design added:
When you talk about her being involved in every part of the process — even her design vocabulary is sharp. She’s like, “We don’t have enough silhouette differentiation. Can we go back and think about something else?” That shows where her head is at, how invested she is in the success of the team and the line.