When Brittney Griner steadily stepped up to the podium fighting back tears to accept her number 1 selection by the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA Draft, she wasn’t prim and fidgety in a borrowed outfit out of her comfort zone; she was smartly dressed in a sleek white suit designed by the Emmy-nominated Kellen Richards, a stylist for the Ellen DeGeneres Show.
She topped off the look with an orange manicure and pulled her shoulder length dreads into a low ponytail as her orange socks poked out of her low-top converse sneakers.
She looked like Brittney Griner; a look she has mastered as a professional ball player who stands at 6’8″, and looking like Brittney Griner pays. Big.
The internet was abuzz when it was revealed that Nike signed the famous female basketball player (who had a record-breaking run during her college career at Baylor before joining the Phoenix Mercury) as their first openly gay athlete to represent their brand. The twist? Baylor wouldn’t be the stereotypical model; her run with Nike is rumored to feature the baller modeling men’s clothing, a triumph that I soon learned caused an abrasive friction with people who would not be affected one bit by the decision, namely men who exclaimed “I wouldn’t be drawn to anything she is selling.”
Sorry to break it to you male Nike consumers, but this collaboration is not about you. And it is quite arguably one of the smartest business moves the athletic giant has made.
It is no secret that there are already a few out lesbian players in the WNBA, but Griner’s signing with Nike goes deeper than that, it shows that the league is working to innovate a new image, and tapping a niche market, where the money lays dormant.
It’s not unusual to see many women and men alike who dress in androgynous clothing, regardless of their sexual orientation. Andrej Pejic has made a lucrative modeling career as an androgynous model and Ellen DeGeneres still pulls millions of viewers in her sweater vests; androgynous people are out here in masses with great power, yet big name corporations have chosen to ignore the market, which not only makes Nike’s decision brave, but will also ensure it to be a lucrative venture.
I think we need to understand this: not all androgynous men and women want to transform to the opposite sex; choosing not to align with particular gender norms just happens to be their style of choice, and when it comes to Brittney Griner, hers happens to be menswear with a twist. She is still very much a woman, just a woman who decides to adorn her 6’8″ figure with men’s clothing unapologetically and somewhere behind her computer screen is a young woman who is seeking the same outlet.
I applaud both Nike and Brittney for taking strides in breaking down gender roles in the mainstream and hope that this brave statement is the first of many developmental progressions to come…and it’s quite simple, men, if you don’t like it, don’t buy it…because I am going to let you in on a little secret; It’s not always all about you anyway. You can keep the push-up bra commericals we’re supposed to enjoy as a barter.
Rachel is the Style Editor for GlobalGrind.com, proud graduate of a SUNY school, and as sarcastic as they come. Follow her on Twitter for random daily ramblings @MiissHislop and on Instagram for as many puppy photos and selfies as you can handle @AmazingRach