The sneaker industry grapples with diversity, not only in its designs, but also in the people behind them. Pensole Design Academy, with help from Foot Locker and New Balance, is looking to change that with a new program aimed at providing opportunities for those who are under-represented in the industry. Dubbed “Designing with Sole,” the effort is focused on those interested in the design and marketing of footwear and clothing.
Marginalized communities, especially the black community, have been so influential in the sneaker industry – but when it comes to behind-the-scenes representation, those same communities are under-represented. And as sneaker companies, including bigger names like Nike and Adidas, struggle to create a safe space for minorities, smaller communities have started to take matters into their own hands.
A chance to learn from the pros – According to the design academy, the project will create a pathway for marginalized voices in the industry and will be offered free of charge to participants. “Inspiring and empowering the culture of young people means investing in their future and raising the voices of those who have not been heard,” Dick Johnson, chief executive officer of Foot Locker, said in a statement. “As part of our $ 200 million pledge to support the black community, we are proud to work with great brands like New Balance and Pensole on creating programs like these that create opportunities and open doors. within our industry that have been shut down for too. “
Registration for the program is now open on The Pensole site and will end on June 7. A total of 160 people will be selected by Pensole and New Balance to participate in the project, with the finalists being revealed on June 21.
Once selected, participants will begin the first part of the distance program on June 28, which ends on July 23. From there, only 60 students will be selected for a 12-week learning-by-doing program in which they will team up and explore the product creation process. This second part will feature insights from New Balance design directors, designers, design recruiters, technicians, and developers.
Bringing inclusiveness to the industry – At the end of the “Designing with Sole” project, the top 10 students will take an in-person course at New Balance. Those based in North America have the opportunity to land a paid internship with Foot Locker and New Balance, hopefully inspiring more diversity and new ideas at both companies.
Noting past projects with the two brands, Pensole founder D’Wayne Edwards said in a statement, “This year we are focusing on budding designers in communities who have long supported sneaker culture but who were unfortunately not involved in the creation of its products. “Designing With Sole” will be an important step in correcting this injustice. “