The world’s foremost name in sporting apparel isn’t just dipping its toe in the waters of expression and acceptance. It’s diving in headfirst. After signing the WNBA’s Brittney Griner to a contract that has her market and wear men’s clothing as well as women’s apparel, and makes her the company’s first openly gay athlete, Nike released the second edition of its #BeTrue line of shoes and sportswear last week.
This year, Nike expanded the #BETRUE tribe by making the shoes available online. And I do mean tribe. The design of the shoes prominently features the spectrum wrapping around the heel of the shoe while a monochromatic tribal print surrounds the rest of the foot. The detail wasn’t that surprising since tribal prints are showing up a lot of places, and it makes sense when you’re designing a shoe that’s about a group of people who have something in common.
It’s a shift of focus from place to people. All the while, Nike is taking very visible steps (it’s hard to miss those shoes) onto turf where it seems few are currently willing to venture. But if they’re nervous stepping up to the plate, it isn’t apparent.
The line, which openly gay NBA player Jason Collins wore to Boston’s Pride Parade this weekend, is “in celebration of sport as a universal language,” according to Nike, and includes shoes, t-shirts, and flip-flops with rainbow prints and the line’s #BeTrue name. Like the original line Nike released last year, profits will go to the LGBT Sports Coalition, an organization that is aiming to end homophobic discrimination in sports by 2016.
The men’s shoes seen in the photograph retail for $115 and offer “breathable comfort and a barefoot-like feel,” according to Nike’s official site.
Meanwhile, sports leaders, the media and advocacy groups are currently touching down in Portland, Ore. for the second annual Nike LGBT Sports Summit in Portland, Oregon.
The event, founded by Outsports’ Cyd Zeigler, the National Center for Lesbian Rights Sports Project Director Helen Carroll and LGBT sports pioneer Pat Griffin, takes place June 12-15 and will include college and professional athletes, coaches, athletic administrators, political figures, LGBT advocates, journalists and more.