The reigning WNBA final MVP Breanna Stewart has signed a multi-year shoe deal with Puma that guarantees the Seattle Storm star the creation and release of her own signature sneaker.
“Every time you hear a signature, I think it’s mind-boggling and eye-opening, especially on the women’s side,” Stewart told ESPN. “There weren’t many. … So that Puma can put the signature element out there, [and] Respect me enough if they think I deserve a signature shoe is something that is super exciting. “
While 18 NBA players have their own signature shoe this season, only nine WNBA players in the league’s 25-year history have had their own signature shoe. At the beginning, pioneering icons like Sheryl Swoopes, Dawn Staley, Lisa Leslie and Cynthia Cooper with Nike, Rebecca Lobo with Reebok and Nikki McCray with Fila were on the list.
The game’s most exciting youngsters soon followed around the turn of the 2000s, including Nike signature shoes for Chamique Holdsclaw and Diana Taurasi. But a decade has passed since the last woman, Candace Parker, laced up her Adidas sneaker of the same name.
Puma said it is just beginning to develop Stewart’s signature shoe, a process that typically involves a 12 to 18 month design and development schedule.
“Of course I was honored that they would offer that, and now I’m just excited about what’s to come,” added Stewart. “Hopefully we can make a really good shoe that a lot of people will like – male, female, young, old, basketball, non-basketball.”
Puma hopes its endorsement deal with Stewart will set the bar for modern branding deals for women. Landing a player of Stewart’s caliber and honored resume while she is only 26 years old helps further establish the Puma Hoops category Relaunch in 2018, after almost two decades away from the sport.
After winning the 2018 WNBA MVP and Finals MVP awards, Stewart missed the 2019 WNBA season with a broken Achilles. Her bounce-back season last summer restored her dominance when she led Seattle to its second title in three seasons, losing 28.3 PPG and 7.7 RPG during the Storm’s 2020 WNBA final. She later won both the EuroLeague Final Four MVP and the Russian Premier League MVP during her overseas season at UMMC Ekaterinburg.
“Best female basketball player in the world,” said a Puma brand manager.
While the “Stewie 1s” – officially still TBD – may not be released for at least one more WNBA season, Stewart is already pondering ideas and early concepts.
“”[It is] In any case, it will be a low-top, “she outlined.” I will have pillows for the Achilles and everyone in the Achilles family. Then I thought, “Oh, maybe I can do it environmentally friendly.” … It will be exciting. I think cool colors will definitely come. Something where you can rock it on and off the pitch. “
Stewart has worn Nike throughout her career, including at UConn and throughout her professional career in the WNBA and overseas. Nike Inc. has been the official WNBA uniform supplier since 2017 and is worn by around 80% of the league. Before Stewart signed, Puma’s WNBA athletes only included Skylar Diggins-Smith, Jackie Young and Katie Lou Samuelson.
“You had the utmost respect for me. If you could roll out a red carpet on a Zoom, I would have a feeling you did,” Stewart said of Puma’s detailed virtual pitch meeting. “I’m very, very comfortable and realize that they want to take the next step. They know where they are as a brand and how they can keep getting better.
“Having myself on their team was a huge priority for me, and for me to be part of the family, I’m just very excited. I’m looking forward to getting the respect that women’s basketball deserves, for you to bring others level and ball game. “
The WNBA’s 25th Anniversary season ends Friday, and when the Storm opens their season against the Las Vegas Aces in a WNBA Finals rematch on Saturday (3:00 p.m. ET, ABC), Stewart will become either the RS Dreamer or the Court riders wear two of them Puma’s newest statement-level team shoes.
Released last summer and designed in collaboration with rapper J. Cole, the Dreamer was inspired by his dream of playing professional basketball. This week he’s in Rwanda where he is is expected to play in the first basketball Africa League.
“The J. Cole Album is When I get out I might have to wear the Dreamers for opening day, “Stewart teased the rapper who dubbed his start date for” The Off-Season “on May 14th.
In addition to the current colors of the Dreamer, Stewart will continue to wear custom sneakers this season. Last year the trend picked up in the WNBA when players a Canvas to display messages of social justice and highlight causes.
“Customs are kind of a way of developing the game, what we wear on the pitch,” said Stewart. “The main focus this summer is on raising awareness about the COVID vaccine and ensuring that people in the healthcare sector are represented equally. Just fight for equality and continue to support the message that Black Lives Matter, Breonna Taylor and continues To honor all the other lives lost to police brutality. “
For the next year, Stewart will go behind the scenes from developing individual concepts for Puma team shoes to developing her own signature shoe from the ground up. Perhaps the industry will follow suit with even more WNBA signature shoes.
“It’s crazy it’s been a decade but I hope I can make up for lost time,” said Stewart. “I hope it gets a bit competitive and then turns into a domino effect.”