Behind the Design of Zion Williamson’s First Signature Shoe

Jordan Brand has unveiled Williamson’s first signature sneaker, the Zion 1.
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Jordan Brand has unveiled Pelicans superstar Zion Williamson’s first signature sneaker and apparel line. The Zion 1 marks a new era for Jordan as Williamson represents the brand’s first Gen Z signature athlete on a talented roster that includes Luka Dončić, Jayson Tatum, Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal and Caris LeVert.

“Words can’t really explain it. As a kid you just say it to put in the atmosphere like, Hey, I want my own signature shoe, but as you get older you see it is tough to get your own signature shoe,” says Williamson. “Things have to really go your way, and I just want to thank Jordan Brand for the opportunity because I don’t think it has hit me yet.”

Williamson says there were a lot of Zoom calls in the process but mentioned that he would get lost in thought about this actually happening.

“What makes my signature line unique is that you are going to find a lot of gems within the line and you are going to learn about me. I am a very out-there guy, but when you actually get to know me, I am just this super chill and down-to-earth dude.”

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Jordan Brand designers spoke highly about working with Williamson on his first signature shoe.

“We are working with one of the most humbled athletes I think we have seen with the brand. His humility and down-to-earth manner were just refreshing to see and how he approached this entire process,” says Jarrett Mann, product director of Jordan Brand Footwear. “It was an 18-month process working with a 19-year-old signature athlete and the first Gen Z signature athlete. We wanted this to be the beginning of a shoe that bridges the gap from this generation but also have that Jordan DNA.”

He also created a project with his mother to showcase what kind of shoe he wanted.

“We worked closely with him, a lot of through Zoom. We were just trying to feel each other. His family was always involved in the calls as well so it was a lot discussion between all of us,” says Jordan Brand senior color designer Kelsey Amy. “But one of the moments where he came to life, he worked with his mom to put together a mood board with cut-out images of Jordans he loves and quotes that have inspired him. It was really cool to see this little project for us. Like, what athlete is willing to do that? He took the time to put that together and that moment, at least for myself, where we saw a little bit of a shift and we took so many nuggets from the mood board that 90% of what he presented we were able to present in his footwear."

The Zion 1 consists of four colorways

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Gen Zion: Black and white.

ZNA: Cosmic design represents crossover of being out of this world but also down-to-earth. 

Noah: A colorway dedicated to Zion’s little brother.

Marion: Channels Zion’s home in South Carolina and his middle school—places that shaped him into the athlete he is today.

“We really wanted to make sure these first four colorways were an embodiment of who he is as a person. Super humble family guy and super quiet,“ says Amy. “Those are things the consumer just doesn’t know about him so we kind of wanted to tell those stories. As we talked to Zion earlier on, if he had his way, every shoe would probably be black and white. The kid is simple and just loves the basics. Throughout the design process every time we made tweaks to the design he always wanted to see it in black and white before anything else. I think it gave him a look at how the shoe would ultimately look like.”

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Williamson says the Noah colorway will always be a must-have colorway with every shoe he creates.

“The story behind the Noah colorway begins when I was searching for which shoe company I wanted to sign with. When I visited the Nike campus, they gave Noah a pair of these low-cut AJ1s all white and they gave him some crayons and they told him he could design whatever he wanted. Noah, being five at that time, just took a bunch of colors and just made some scribbles on it, and as you seen with the Jordan 34—it was white with a bunch of different colors and a bunch of scribbles. This is a colorway I am always going to have no matter what. I am always going to have a Noah colorway."

Williamson reportedly signed a record deal with Jordan Brand in 2019 after leaving Duke to become the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA draft. He will debut the Zion 1 tonight against the Nets.

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