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A’ja Wilson’s Nike Signature Shoe Is On The Way

Last Updated: May 12, 2024
“What is delayed isn’t denied,” Wilson told Boardroom. Nike is scheduled to drop the signature shoe in 2025.

Yes, Las Vegas Aces star and reigning WNBA Finals MVP A’ja Wilson has a Nike signature shoe on the way. 

In fact, the design process and planning has been in the works for over a year, with the expected launch of the Nike A’ONE set to arrive during Spring 2025. There will be an accompanying A’ja Wilson signature apparel collection, along with footwear available in both adult and youth sizes that includes her signature shoe and signature slides. 

“It’s been incredible working with Nike toward a dream of having my collection, and it really is an honor to take this next step and become a Nike signature athlete,” said Wilson. “From my logo to the look of the shoe and the pieces throughout the collection, we’ve worked to make sure every detail is perfectly tuned to my game and style.”

The signature shoe is just one component of a multi-year shoe deal extension that Wilson signed with Nike earlier this year. The expansive deal was negotiated by agent Jade-Li English, Head of Women’s Basketball at Klutch Sports Group, and will continue to position the decorated Aces star as the face of the WNBA and a featured Swoosh athlete across the globe. 

Wilson announced her signature shoe upon arriving to the Aces preseason game held at South Carolina.

Wilson confirmed the signature shoe announcement as she arrived into the tunnel of Colonial Life Arena earlier today, ahead of the Aces’ preseason match up against Puerto Rico.

Her hoodie said it all:

“Of Course I Have A Shoe Dot Com”

Of course, it was in that very arena that the South Carolina Gamecocks call home where Wilson’s standout collegiate career took place. 

In her four years at SC, the Columbia native saw game attendance double, all while leading the school to its first National Championship in 2017. When she played in her last home game on campus in 2018, the Mayor officially declared February 22nd as “A’ja Wilson Day.” 

In 2021, the University unveiled a statue of Wilson to celebrate her contributions of laying the foundation of one of college basketball’s powerhouse programs. 

Today, she is back on campus again, announcing her future signature shoe with Nike.

“A lot of emotions for me, because it’s a full-circle moment,” Wilson said earlier this week of her homecoming. “And a lot of people in that arena, it’s going to be people that literally watched me from pre-school to now.”

“It’s where her basketball journey began, where all of her loved ones live and her family is from,” Jade-Li English told Boardroom. “That was the only way to do it.”

While at South Carolina, Wilson was reminded of a valuable lesson often from Head Coach Dawn Staley: 

“What is delayed, is not denied.” 

The mantra speaks to the power of patience, but also, of keeping the faith and working towards your pursuit.

It was by no coincidence that Wilson tweeted out the maxim after a news leak revealed that this year’s WNBA #1 Draft pick Caitlin Clark would be getting her own signature shoe with Nike as part of her new rookie shoe deal. 

Some caught the subtlety and meaning behind Wilson’s tweet.

While the release date is still a year away, the Aces star revealed in Boardroom’s exclusive A’ja Wilson Cover Story conversation with Vinciane Ngomsi launching this Tuesday, that she has been hands-on at every step of the signature design process. 

“Just know that it was me. I did this,” Wilson told Ngomsi. “Y’all are getting my project. You’re getting something that I took very, very seriously — that I don’t take lightly.”

“You’re getting an A’ja Wilson project, through and through.”


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The Reveal

While the chatter online around an A’ja Wilson signature shoe has been rightfully non-stop, the reality is this process was set into motion long ago. 

“After the Aces won their first championship in 2022, Nike hopped into place to secure building her a signature shoe business,” revealed English. 

The following spring in early 2023, Wilson was on location at a local High School in Miami, where she’d be taking part in a photoshoot to promote the newest Cosmic Unity sneaker that she headlined. 

A large contingency of Nike execs and reps from Oregon had all flown in for the shoot, which initially didn’t seem out of the norm. 

“A’ja — we’d like to play a video for you,” someone said. 

Moments later, Dawn Staley appeared on screen. 

During her Hall of Fame playing career in the late 1990s, Staley boasted one of the greatest signature shoe designs in WNBA history with her Nike Zoom S5 sneaker. She is no stranger to the sneaker game or the brand, and of course, one of Wilson’s closest confidants and mentors.

It was in that moment that Staley revealed to Wilson that one of the last remaining achievements of her young career could finally be checked off the list: 

The A’ja Wilson signature shoe is happening. 

Nike execs on hand presented Wilson with a black shoe box, detailed with a play on words inspired by her frequent social media captions and constant quest of being “top tier” and “A1.” 

The box read “A’ONE” — the official name of her future first signature shoe. 

It was empty inside, as if to say, “Let’s get to work.” 

A’ja Wilson and Nike designer Ben Nethongkome. (image via Nike)

The Design Process 

When the next set of meetings took place in 2023 at Nike’s massive new office in Los Angeles and on the Nike campus in Oregon later that fall, it was time to establish the big picture ideas for what Wilson wanted her shoe to represent, and what she wanted the shoe to look like. 

“The design process with Nike was really gratifying, and I didn’t realize how much goes into designing a shoe,” says Wilson. “My biggest asks were that the shoe was light and comfortable for all the hours I spend on the court, and that it also looks really good.”

The Swoosh logo should be placed on the sleek silhouette in a unique way, the thinking went, to make sure the A’ONE is recognizable on a store wall, on a street, or on TV when rapidly rising audiences are tuning in to Aces games to watch Wilson.

“The experience working with A’ja on her collection reflects who she is on the court and in the locker room,” said Ben Nethongkome, Wilson’s lead footwear designer at the Swoosh. “She’s a natural leader.”

Mood boards were worked up, to try and land on a design language and feel that would set the foundation for Wilson’s first model, but also future models to come. 

There was a gravity and excitement within the room as well, with everyone grasping that this wasn’t just about creating a new basketball shoe — but rather crafting a tangible depiction of Wilson’s aspirational journey that would inspire a future generation. 

“The shoe is for everybody,” described English. “But it’s also for the young girls coming up that look like her, and are a big part of her why.”

“If you can see her, you can be her,” Wilson framed to Boardroom’s Vinciane Ngomsi, of the shoe’s eventual impact and the importance of representation.

The eventual launch is also much more than just one shoe, as the A’ja Wilson signature collection will include the basketball shoe, along with a full apparel collection and slides. 

“I want approvals on everything,” Wilson relayed to the Nike team early on. 

As the brainstorm sessions continued, Wilson’s measured input and distinct ideas flowed throughout. 

“She makes everyone feel comfortable to be who they are,” said Nethongkome. “And that, I feel like, was the secret sauce in working together on this collection.” 

Wilson selects material swatches during a brainstorm session. (image via Nike)

The author of the best-selling book Dear Black Girls: How To Be True To You went into the design process with consideration and thought through specific details and insights that an end consumer will appreciate. 

“Let’s put silk in the hoodies, so they don’t need to wear their bonnets in the airport,” Wilson instructed her team of Nike designers. 

The inspiration and storytelling continued to pour out. Wilson thought back to when she was just ten years-old, and her dear grandmother Hattie Rakes gave her a pearl necklace. 

“A pretty girl always wears her pearls,” Rakes had told her. 

That moment has stuck with her ever since. Wilson would wear her necklace often throughout her childhood, with the pearls taking on even more added meaning after Rakes passed away in late 2016 at the age of 95. Her shoe will feature pearlized elements and detailing as a tribute to her grandmother. 

“It’s versatile, and I hope people will wear it when they’re hooping, but also just when they’re walking around every day,” said Wilson. “It’s so exciting to be sharing my signature, a piece of me, with the world.”

(Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images)

Earlier this year in February, Wilson went again to Nike’s World Headquarters in Beaverton. Nike was planning to show her the latest looks of the A’ONE samples, as the group shifted between the LeBron James Innovation Center and Serena Williams Building during a packed schedule of meetings. 

Also, Wilson would be signing her new multi-year signature shoe deal extension with the company, confirming a runway of future signature shoes to follow the A’ONE. 

CEO John Donahoe made sure to be there, along with iconic Nike shoe designer Tinker Hatfield, who penned a dozen Air Jordans during Michael’s Bulls career, along with some of the brand’s most revered running shoes. 

“Happy tears” were aplenty, as the moment celebrating the new shoe deal extension turned into a makeshift party for Wilson. 

“It is a deal worthy of A’ja,” beamed English. 

A’ja Wilson celebrates the 2023 WNBA Championship with her Finals MVP trophy. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

Of Course A’ja Has A Shoe 

With the conversation online in recent years so ever-present, Nike and Wilson are embracing the admittedly long-awaited announcement that’s finally here, by launching a dedicated micro-site at OfCourseIHaveAShoe.com.

The brand gets right into it.

“You thought we’d sleep on an SEC champion, national champion, #1 draft pick, five-time All-Star, U.S. Olympic gold winner, WNBA Finals MVP, a statue-having, New York Times Best Seller, TIME 100 Most Influential People in 2024, two-time WNBA champion, two-time Defensive Player of the Year, two-time WNBA MVP, and pettiest hooper on the internet?

You thought.”

The accolade laden 27 year-old’s Wikipedia page boasts an extensive 28 bullet points under the standard “Career highlights and awards” section. Wilson has racked up literally every possible award to be had on the hardwood — she’s won 12 of the awards listed at least twice. 

“A’ja could possibly go down as the most decorated and best basketball player ever in the WNBA,” added English. “She’s already done so much at the age of 27.

“If anyone deserves a signature shoe, it’s A’ja.”

In the footwear industry, the calendar for signature shoes is a drawn out one. Designers have often joked that one of the most important skills needed for this industry is patience. 

The start-to-finish timeline is often 18-24 months, allowing for a series of 2-3 month check-point windows that includes everything such as design, revisions, performance testing, colorway creation, marketing plans, retail buying, campaign photoshoots, factory production and shipping from overseas — all leading up to an eventual launch date. 

With the Spring 2023 starting point in Miami kicking things in motion, the team identified the Spring / Summer 2025 season early on for the eventual A’ONE release. 

“A’ja did not want to rush it,” said English. “She wanted to get it right.” 

While quietly working behind the scenes throughout that timeline, Nike often opts for a pact of secrecy with their signature athletes, that is seemingly and understandably near-impossible to “keep tight,” as the brand’s internal slogan goes. 

Nike’s most recent WNBA signature athlete, Sabrina Ionescu, joked about how she “had to keep a secret” for an entire year — and couldn’t even tell her family. You can only imagine how hard it was for Wilson to hold off on saying anything official for the last year, as the never-ending conversation about WNBA signature shoes often started with, “Where’s A’ja’s shoe?”

“We’ve been sitting back and watching,” said English. “There’s been moments where she had to jump off of social media, because her DMs and mentions were blowing up, because everyone was mad that she didn’t have a shoe.”

Along with the microsite launch, there are plans to sustain the momentum over the next year through a myriad of pillar events and activations. 

Wilson’s signature logo reveal will be its own grand moment, while the brand will also look to grow her presence overseas with a potential tour throughout Asia. She will begin to debut pieces from her signature apparel collection at a later date, along with her signature slides. 

With the announcement now finally out, revealed from her hometown and the starting point of her basketball journey, the Aces star is already looking ahead to the impact her upcoming signature shoe will have. 

“I hope when girls wear this shoe, they believe in themselves,” says Wilson. “I want them to hopefully lace them up, feel powerful and understand that nobody can stop them from their dreams. Set those goals high. Go get them — that’s the biggest thing.”

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Nick DePaula

Nick DePaula covers the footwear industry and endorsement deals surrounding the sporting landscape, with an emphasis on athlete and executive interviews. The Sacramento, California, native has been based in Portland, Oregon, for the last decade, a main hub of sneaker company headquarters. He’ll often argue that How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days is actually an underrated movie, largely because it’s the only time his Sacramento Kings have made the NBA Finals.

About The Author
Nick DePaula
Nick DePaula
Nick DePaula covers the footwear industry and endorsement deals surrounding the sporting landscape, with an emphasis on athlete and executive interviews. The Sacramento, California, native has been based in Portland, Oregon, for the last decade, a main hub of sneaker company headquarters. He’ll often argue that How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days is actually an underrated movie, largely because it’s the only time his Sacramento Kings have made the NBA Finals.