The world’s largest athletic footwear retailer, Foot Locker, has just announced they have invested $2 Million into footwear design school Pensole.
Pensole was started by former Jordan footwear designer D’Wayne Edwards in 2010 to provide opportunities to designers to receive formal study in the sneaker design business. Based in Portland, OR the school has quickly become to top developer of footwear design talent for the industry with over 400 graduates working for major footwear brands that include Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour.
Though officially called a “strategic investment” on the part of Foot Locker, the deal couldn’t be a more natural and organic fit.
“My relationship with Foot Locker goes back over 30 years. I used to go a Foot Locker store at the mall every weekend when I lived in Inglewood,” said Edwards. “For the past 29 years, Foot Locker has sold a shoe that I designed and Foot Locker has been a fantastic partner sponsoring a number of our classes.”
From consumer, to designer, to educator, and now partner.
“It has always been our joint mission to foster the next generation of emerging footwear and apparel design talent, and I am confident that our collaboration will contribute to the continued growth of the academy, success of our students, and accelerated innovation in the footwear industry.”
While Edwards is understandably ecstatic about the investment, the folks at Foot Locker couldn’t be more excited to help foster the future of footwear.
“Through this investment, we are excited to extend our partnership with PENSOLE, an organization that shares our deep commitment to fostering education and driving design innovation and excellence in the industry,” said Richard Johnson, Foot Locker’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “PENSOLE’s position as a leading footwear design academy will enable Foot Locker, Inc. to deepen our relationships with our vendor partners and leverage the next generation of talent across our brand partners for exclusive consumer-facing concepts. We look forward to working closely with D’Wayne and PENSOLE’s talented students and world-class faculty, as together we design and produce the footwear of tomorrow.”
For Edwards, the partnership proves perfect in regards to the scale sneakers are truly on.
“Foot Locker has a global footprint,” explains Edwards. “Sneakers aren’t just North America and Foot Locker is a global company. It’s a natural fit.”
The global reach of sneakers has Edwards excited about the opportunity to include more people from around the world in the sneaker design process.
“Not everyone can ball and not everyone can rock the mic,” reflects the Pensole founder. “But if you can grab a pencil you can have a world of opportunities in footwear.”
Congrats to D’Wayne, Pensole and Foot Locker. Keep it locked to Nice Kicks as the partnership continues to grow.