Pensole & Nice Kicks Present: The Future 50

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words // Nick DePaula:

One of the greatest things about sneakers is how they can bring together people from a variety of different backgrounds. Whether there’s a shared interest in the deepest nuances of design, a love for the athletes that lead them, or just an appreciation for a classic pair — we’ve seen footwear bring together different cultures, regions and people again and again.

While some of the greatest athletes and influencers of our time have often been endlessly celebrated, there’s a collective wealth of talent throughout the industry that has gone unnoticed at times. In partnership with PENSOLE Academy founder D’Wayne Edwards, we’re proud to change that.

Read ahead as the design pioneer, longtime industry mentor and educator impacting a new generation conveys the importance of diversity and inclusion in our industry. Together, we are announcing the very first Future 50 class today at the first annual African American Footwear Forum event in Washington DC, honoring the fifty creatives that we feel will be instrumental in shaping the future of the athletic industry.

Not only will all facets and roles be highlighted, but we’re hoping that the next generation of great talents take notice, and are inspired to pursue a path towards shaping the industry ahead.

Foreward by D’Wayne Edwards:


In 1883, a black man by the name of Jan Ernst Matzeliger revolutionized the footwear industry with his patent for an automated shoe-laster. Mr. Matzeliger and his invention were ignored until 1991, when he received a stamp honoring him. Matzeliger’s absence from footwear history speaks volumes as to how underappreciated the contributions of black men and women have been within the industry.

No official records or acknowledgments have been published to establish that black women and men are responsible and represent some of the top athletic and entertainment endorsements.

They have been continuing to create some of the most iconic footwear concepts, memorable advertising, and marketing campaigns that define and drive fashion trends and retail sales globally.

136 years is far too long for our contributions to the footwear industry to go ignored. In celebration of these invisible black women and men, Nice Kicks and PENSOLE have decided to introduce hundreds of contributors, beginning with the 2019 classes of The Foundational 50 and The Future 50.

In celebration of the 1st group of 100 black women and men, who are and will be the future of the footwear and athletic industry, we will be honoring them at the 1st annual 2019 African American Footwear Forum in Washington DC at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History & Culture.



Learn more about these talented and impactful individuals right here on, as we’ll be highlighting each in the coming weeks. In the meantime, let’s celebrate The Future 50.


Dedicated to the memory of Dillon Patrick

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