Sabrina Ionescu reflects on releasing her signature shoe
The GIST: NY Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu (pronounced yo-NESS-coo) published a personal essay on Wednesday about her experience releasing the Sabrina 1s, her first Nike shoe and only the 12th signature shoe in WNBA history. Ionescu’s story encapsulates several pivotal trends within basketball, as well as a strategic shift in marketing women athletes. Count it.
The shoe: Aside from their distinct design elements, like Romanian-inspired patterns and Ionescu’s interwoven initials, the Sabrina 1s were set apart by their extensive rollout at Nike’s NYC Soho store. On the court, they allow for quick cuts, hence their rising status as a hardwood staple, with NFL and MLB players also rocking the shoe.
- NBA players like Jrue Holiday and Mikal Bridges aren’t just driving the 1s’ game — they’re being fashion-forward by introducing new colorways, cementing the kicks’ place in sneaker culture and brand strategy. Everybody gets a car shoe!
The approach: Ionescu said the environment Nike created for the 1s was something she’d never seen before, and that’s because Ionescu’s collection is redefining what it means to be a signature athlete. She’s the first Nike women’s basketball athlete to debut a unisex signature collection, which relied on input from athletes of all genders.
The success: Once again, Nike put on a clinic on how to expertly create and market a basketball shoe for all. The 1s are universally coveted — in her piece, Ionescu shares stories of boys and girls excited to buy her signature shoe. Together, Nike and Ionescu have changed the game at virtually every level: universities are now buying customized 1s for all their players.