“She was not a girly girl. She was tough and needed her shoe to be agile and responsive, so that is what we designed."- Marni Gerber
words // Zack Schlemmer
As the best women's basketball player of her era, Sheryl Swoopes earned the first women's basketball signature model ever. For years women had to settle for small men's sizes or the low quality women's models for their shoes on court. In 1996 Nike finally created a top-tier basketball shoe designed specifically for a woman's foot. But don't get it twisted, the Air Swoopes was no girly shoe. With heel and forefoot Air cushioning and a supportive midfoot strap, the Air Swoopes was "strong enough for a man, but made for a woman", as the deodorant people say.
They didn't look too bad either. The Air Swoopes was a perfect combination of function and style. Simple, yet elegant. Nike would continue after the Air Swoopes with more models in the Swoopes signature line, as well as great signatures for other top women players like Cynthia Cooper and Lisa Leslie.
Take a look at original sketches for the Air Swoopes and the special Olympics colorway made for Sheryl for the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.