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Sabrina Ionescu’s Second Nike Signature Shoe Is Here 

Last Updated: June 24, 2024
After the sweeping success of the Sabrina 1, Boardroom breaks down the New York Liberty star’s upcoming second shoe release with the Swoosh.

The Sabrina 1 is a historic shoe for many reasons. Just the 12th signature shoe in WNBA history — and Nike’s first women’s signature collection of footwear and apparel in more than 15 years — brought with it an elevated set of expectations. 

And yet, the shoe saw adoption at all levels of the game — WNBA, NBA, college, high school, etc. — and truly spoke to the “Anyone. Anywhere.” mantra that Sabrina Ionescu and the Nike team set out to achieve from the onset. 

So, it only makes sense that the Sabrina 2 is now an evolution of everything that worked so well on the Sabrina 1.

“I didn’t want to change too much,” said Ionescu, “because I really did love the 1s.”

Ionescu debuts the Sabrina 2 at Barclays Center.

The reality of the product timeline process is the New York Liberty star was working on the 2s with her team at Nike, just as she began wearing the 1s. All along, she knew there was a strong foundation in place for the series.

“You obviously have that option going into the 2s — if you want to start over from scratch and just create a completely new design,” she said. “Or, if you want to just evolve from the 1 to the 2. I wanted to go more in that route and continue to fine-tune and elevate the 2.”

Ionescu celebrates in her newest signature shoe. (Evan Yu / NBAE via Getty Images)

The elements that worked over the last year — the low-cut silhouette, forefoot Zoom Air unit, grippy traction, and ability to show up in a variety of colorways and color blockings — are largely all retained for round 2. 

After designing the Sabrina 1 mostly over Zoom meetings during a post-pandemic virtual climate, the group had the ability to meet in person more often this time around. They also became more familiar with each other along the way and felt comfortable sharing their honest feedback as each sample round arrived. 

“Just having that knowledge really helped going into the conversation with the 2s, just knowing what it is we’re looking for and what worked,” Ionescu continued. “I really took a lot of feedback from what I heard from my teammates, a lot of basketball players, and general consumers on what they liked and didn’t like. I wanted to just elevate that into the 2s, and I think we were really able to do that.”

With more in-person meetings on the calendar and the benefit of real-time feedback after Sabrina laced up her namesake Sabrina 1 sneakers all last season, the team was able to move swiftly and more sharply while designing the Sabrina 2. 

“From a design process, it got a little easier to design a shoe with Sabrina this time around,” said designer Ben Nethongkome. “We got quicker at finding solutions that work for her. Sabrina was also feeling a lot more comfortable to provide honest feedback, so we could improve the product.”

The second colorway of the Sabrina 2, a clean “Conductor” theme.

It’s never the consumer-facing part of the process, but samples did arrive a little too heavy at times — a little thicker in parts, or the logo placement wasn’t exactly there yet. The heel paneling also evolved, as did the texture or detailing in parts that the team knew they could eventually get to.

Again, that’s all part of the process of looking to create something great. Something that could not only live up to the first edition, but exceed it.

“Every process designing footwear, there’s going to be a lot of ups. And sometimes, there’s going to be some downs. In this case, there was more ups than downs,” Nethongkome said with a laugh. “It’s part of the design process. The fun part was us coming to a decision together. There were moments where I wanted something, or she wanted something, and we would land on something we were both proud of.”

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One of the key focuses throughout the design process was delivering on the signature details and personal touches that the Sabrina 1 brought to life in its own way. A Romanian-inspired stitching pattern adorned the toe. A lower case i dotted the heel of the shoe and extended around the middle of the outsole. The tilted Swoosh alluded to aspiring upwards and breaking through a glass ceiling.

Ionescu’s signature can be found along the side of the Sabrina 2s.

For the Sabrina 2, a new set of signature details can be found layered throughout. More literally, Ionescu wanted her actual signature to be more prominently featured, as it can be found along the lateral outrigger, embedded along the rubber.

A repeating embroidered ‘S’ pattern serves as a graphic along the collar, while a different “S” initial borders the entire outsole of the shoe. The eye stay panel, seen in a lighter shade on this chocolate brown pair at left, more subtly takes its shape from a capital “S” as well.

In all, the details serve to elevate the product beyond yet another basketball shoe, and make for a truly signature imprint on the silhouette.

With a mesh-based upper package and sleek stance that was refined during the sample timeline, a late addition that helped the visual and fit was the addition of two midfoot support panels that connect to the lacing system to hold in the foot. 

“We designed it to match the style of anyone who wants to emulate Sabrina’s game,” described Nethongkome. “The type of players that accelerate and make quick cuts on the court.”

The low-top Hyperdunk model worn by Ionescu throughout her Oregon career. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

That detail leaned on some inspiration from the Hyperdunk X Low, a shoe originally from the 2017-18 season that Ionescu continually laced up again and again during her record-breaking run during college. 

“Hyperdunks were what I always wore when I started playing and understood what I liked. I really tried every shoe. I think going to the University of Oregon really helped that,” Ionescu laughed. 

As the design started to take shape late in 2023 and samples soon arrived that had the team beaming, just as was the case for Sabrina 1, there was an added responsibility with the Sabrina 2 for the shoe to inspire players of all levels and ages. 

The Sabrina 2 will be available in both a full range of Unisex sizes and, for the first time, in youth sizes that will better accommodate young boys and girls to get the sneakers. If the Sabrina 1 served as a North Star shoe to show what was possible for young girls ahead, to Ionescu, the 2s can be equally aspirational for athletes of all ages and backgrounds.

Sabrina high-fives a young fan at a Liberty game. (Evan Yu / NBAE via Getty Images)

“That’s been something that we’ve been able to see happen, from NBA players to college players and now young boys, they’ll be able to put these shoes on and feel like they can go out and accomplish anything,” she said. 

A key design detail that helps to drive the story of inspiration and purpose home further is the mirrored logo found on the Sabrina 2, with its perimeter “S” print and bonded execution. 

“My favorite detail is the Swoosh and being able to see your own reflection,” said Ionescu. “I want everyone to see themselves, what it is that they want to create and what it is that they want to dream — to be able to go out and do that in my shoe. Hopefully, they’re inspired to go out and accomplish anything it is that they set out to do. I hope that rings true for everybody.”

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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.