The designer said he created custom shoes for Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd to give attention to women in professional sports and highlight their strengths.
A young designer recently created a custom pair of Nike basketball shoes for Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd. He wants to draw more attention to women in professional sports and highlight their athleticism.
“This is the right time for it,” said Cody Rodriguez, 22, who recently graduated from design school in Ohio.
Though it has loyal fans, the WNBA has never attracted the same level of attention as sports played by men. Many male athletes have multi-million dollar sneaker deals, but only a handful of women can hold up a pair as their own.
“I don’t think they get enough publicity. I don’t think they get enough attention,” Rodriguez said during a recent visit to Seattle.
Rodriguez knew little about the WNBA and only found Loyd by Googling the league’s top players. He was looking for something different for his final project, something with meaning.
He messaged Loyd on Instagram, asking her if he could design a shoe for her. She quickly replied.
“Pretty much right away she was like, ‘Yeah, what can I do to help?’” Rodriguez recalled.
“I was really glad that he found me,” Loyd said.
After chatting, Rodriguez visited Loyd in Seattle. They sketched out some ideas and brainstormed. She helped connect him with contacts at Nike, and within weeks he was at Pensole, a footwear design academy in Portland, pulling all-nighters, expressing his ideas in rubber and lace.
Rodriguez unboxed his shoe just in time for the start of the Storm season. The sneakers are futuristic, but not flashy. Functional, yet unexpected.
Loyd wanted a shoe that was bold and bright, yet chill. And because she doesn’t like to tie laces there’s a new lace lock system to cinch her foot in seconds.
“He’s done a great job of listening to me and executing,” Loyd said.
Rodriguez only made one pair of the shoes. They won’t be mass-produced or available for purchase. He says Loyd will likely wear other shoes for practice and games. His design was just a concept, to test out an idea and draw attention to a group of athletes he admires.
“It’s more than about just a basketball shoe,” he said. “It’s also about giving attention to women and what they can do, highlighting their strengths, highlighting their courage, and what they do for us.”
“It was really just making a shoe to inspire others to do the same,” Loyd said.
ICC student, Cody Rodriguez, presents his shoe prototype to WNBA star, Jewel l Loyd.