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How WNBA icon Sue Bird is empowering female sneakerheads — and why she says it’s time for more brands to encourage women in the industry


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Sue Bird might best be known for winning four WNBA championships and four Olympic gold medals as part of Team USA. But a lesser-known fact is that she also happens to be a massive sneakerhead.

A self-described Nike Dunk lover, Bird estimates her collection totals around 500 pairs, and includes coveted sneakers like the Kyrie 6 “Air Yeezy 2 – Pure Platinum” By You and the Kyrie 6 “Neon Graffitis.” The Seattle Storm guard can often be spotted wearing a pair of Nike Kyrie Irving basketball shoes while on the court.  

“Wearing sneakers and having that be a key piece in the clothes I wear and just how I present myself both on and off the court, that’s me just being authentic,” Bird, who is currently in training camp in advance of her 18th season in the WNBA, told Insider in an interview. “That’s me being comfortable. And that’s me being able to showcase what feels good to me.”

To connect with more sneakerheads, Bird partnered with eBay to give the platform an inside look into her unique collection of kicks via an exclusive photo shoot and interview. The campaign, which rolls out this week, includes details on the athlete’s sneaker investment and collection strategy.

eBay recently launched an authentication program for luxury watches and sneakers its the platform, which Bird said was a major reason in her choosing to partner with eBay to highlight her vast collection.

“Authenticity is a big player in this game of sneakers,” Bird said, explaining her passion behind partnering with eBay for the upcoming event. “You don’t want to open the box and feel that disappointment of maybe wasting or losing money. Nobody wants that.”

Bird’s interest with sneakers dates back to when she was 10-years-old. But it wasn’t until she started sharing her collection on social media that she became what she considers a true sneakerhead. She always viewed sneakers as a crucial part of her outfit selection. Plus, as a Nike athlete, Bird has accumulated a vast collection of player exclusives (PE) — pairs that were not released to the public — throughout the years.

“I started posting them on Instagram and kind of sharing with the world this collection,” she said. “And I think that’s when it all kind of came about.”

Empowering female sneakerheads

Over the years, Bird has shown a penchant for activism and equality when it comes to women. She has been vocal about the WNBA receiving the same level of media coverage and corporate sponsors as the NBA. Bird also recently teamed up with her fiancé and US women’s national team soccer star Megan Rapinoe and at least five other female athletes to launch a series of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) to highlight women in sports on May 10, Sportico reported.

The sneaker industry has historically excluded women in hyped drops and at the designer and creator level. Now, as the pendulum shifts, Bird is using her platform and voice to encourage other female sneakerheads to live their passion.

“Women are in this space, they need to be encouraged to be in this space,” Bird said. “They need to be catered to, to some degree, because there are so many of us quote unquote sneakerheads out there.”

Over the past few years, the buying power of female sneakerheads has become difficult for brands to ignore. According to eBay, the women’s sneaker category on the platform grew more than 80% over the past year, with sales of men’s sneakers bought by women doubling in that same period. On March 8, eBay launched an initiative for female sneakerheads and announced a partnership with sneaker collectors The Chicks with Kicks in an effort to win over more female sneaker enthusiasts. 

Other footwear companies are taking notice as well. In March 2021, Foot Locker announced Los Angeles-based designer Melody Ehsani as the new creative director for its women’s business. In April 2019, Beyonce signed a major deal with Adidas to create new shoes, apparel and relaunch her athleisure Ivy Park brand. Nike also launched Unlaced, a digital sneaker boutique designed exclusively for women in 2018.

“It is nice to see that people are now starting to see women in this space as having value,” Bird said. “We’re here, we exist, you can’t ignore us anymore.”

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