As a girl growing up in the ‘90s—that’s right Gen-Z, I’m a Millennial—there weren’t many women in the sneaker world that I could look up to. Instead, I resonated with the same influences that my older brother idolized and plastered my bedroom wall with his hand-me-down posters of the Dream Team and the now bygone era of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman’s Chicago Bulls reign.
But it was during my childhood that I fell in love with sneakers. From the numerous times I would creep into my brother’s room while he was at school to wear his deadstock Air Jordans around the house (and yes, I did get in trouble), to wishing I had my very own pair of Nike Air More Uptempos that Pippen famously popularized. I worshiped the sneakers they wore, had no issue with wearing boys’ shoes, and took pride in being “one of the dudes.”
Luckily, fast forward a few years and powerful women are now dominating the scene thanks to Jordan Brand for giving females, from the likes of Melody Ehsani and Aleali May, a much-needed platform to showcase their creativity and passion.
Now entering the stage is Miami-based writer and publisher Jamila Rowser, New York-based Jamaican cartoonist Robyn Smith and Chicago-native and MariSole Creative Director Jordan Dinwiddie, the female trio behind Jordan Brand’s newest family member and ambassador, Marisol Mercedes Garcia, or “Mari” for short. The fictitious 16-year-old Dominican-American from Washington Heights, New York possesses a vast knowledge of sneakers and encapsulates what many young female sneakerheads are looking for today.
Marisol’s adventures and personal experiences, from making her mark in a new school to trying to cop her latest pair of AJ1s, will all be spotlighted in Jordan Brand’s new four-part SNKRS webcomic series: MariSole. Gen-Z finally has a new icon to look up to.
Read our full interview with MariSole Co-Creator and Creative Director Jordan Dinwiddie below.
Dinwiddie on MariSole’s creative process
You’re all based in different locations, tell us how the collaboration occurred and what were some of the biggest challenges being physically apart.
JD: I think the biggest challenge is that we were all so booked and busy! Robyn was in the process of dropping DC’s Nubia, Jamila owns a publication company, plus has a day job at a tech company and I’m a full-time creative at WK on Nike + Jordan brand. So our time was super stretched.
When creating Marisol’s character, did you pull inspiration from your own lives? If not, where did you get it from?
JD: There’s a little bit of all of us in Marisol. I definitely see a lot of my teenage self in Marisol, super unsure of who I was as a person and reserved but super confident in my love of sports, streetwear, comics, and anime.
Why was it important to create a female antagonist? Did her race play a key role in the conception of her character?
JD: Showing the diversity of black women is super important to me in my work and my everyday life, and shining a light on the life of a young Afro-Dominican girl from Washington Heights was something that I hadn’t seen in comics before.
What’s one of your favorite Marisol moments in the comic series?
JD: Any moment between Marisol and her brother Julian; I have a younger sister and there’s no bond stronger than the one between two siblings.
Dinwiddie on female representation in the industry
Do you think women are currently well represented in the sneaker industry? What about the arts?
JD: I think the sneaker industry is trying to make up for lost time, but I wish more women behind the scenes got more love—the women who design sneakers, textiles, the women who work in brand communications.
How sneakers influenced her own life
How have sneakers played a role in your own life?
JD: Oh sneakers have played a major role in my life as a sports fan and in a cultural capacity. Growing up in Chicago in the 90s there was no way you couldn’t escape the power that Jordans had in the city. I pined for a pair of Js for most of my youth, but my mom was raising 2 kids on her own so all I could do was wish.
Tell us about your first pair of sneakers. Can you name your top three sneakers of all time?
JD: The first pair of sneakers that I picked out for myself, was the old faithful Air Force One Lows. My high school had a pretty strict uniform policy so I had to make them last as long as I could. I remember walking to school trying my hardest not to mess them up. But my top three sneakers really changes with my mood but today (in no particular order) my favorites are:
1. Cement 3s
2. Infrared 6s
3. ‘07 Aqua 8s
How have Nike and Jordan Brand helped you, and other creatives like you, to succeed in the industry?
JD: Working with Nike has helped me find my voice as a writer and a creative and has allowed me to bring bits of myself into work that millions of people see around the world through culture and sport. When a Nike spot drops, the world stops and people listen, and that’s crazy.
Creative advice & what’s next for Marisol
What advice can you give to those wanting to follow in your footsteps today?
JD: Stay true to yourself and your voice, but always keep growing and pushing yourself.
What’s next for Marisol? What can fans look forward to?
JD: Mari and Krissy’s budding friendships and a lot of drip.