A year and a half after Natasha Cloud unveiled a shoe deal with Converse that emphasized her commitment to social justice, Megan Rapinoe has forged a partnership with Nike for a curated footwear and apparel collection that highlights the causes she values.
Rapinoe’s partnership with Nike is dubbed “Victory Redefined” and, according to a press release, it focuses on “[reimagining] the signature athlete partnership model into something more meaningful” and “[having] the potential to be a lightning rod for change in sport.”
You can certainly understand how such a concept would appeal to Sports Illustrated’s 2019 Sportsperson of the Year.
The unveiling features some of what you’d expect from an announcement like this, with photos of Rapinoe amongst an assortment of fleeces, shoes, jackets and all manner of Swoosh-branded bric-a-brac. But it’s what Rapinoe had to say about the partnership that gave a hint about something deeper than just selling sportswear.
“When I spoke to Nike about the next chapter in our relationship, what excited us most was building something new,” she revealed, “Not a new product. Not a new campaign. But a new model for athlete partnerships.”
As to what that entails, Rapinoe hinted that it involves using the mega-corporation’s platform to uplift voices from marginalized populations.
“This is not about me and Nike,” Rapinoe said, “it’s about what Nike and I can do together…to redefine what victory means for all communities and all people.”
In other words, Rapinoe does not want to use her influence with Nike as a simple endorsement deal. She sees it as an opportunity to reach out to people who might not otherwise be heard.
To symbolize the partnership and accompany the unveiling, Nike revealed a new Victory Redefined logo, which the release outlined as representing “community, forward movement, and a push for progress.”
Victory Redefined appears to be the latest step in making an athlete’s social-justice advocacy an integral part of their corporate partnerships. It also suggests that Converse’s deal with Cloud was not a one-off aberration during a summer of heightened social awareness.
Now we wait and see how Rapinoe uses her partnership to amplify the communities she believes in. It fits in with what she’s been doing for her entire career.