Footaction, the national retailer of lifestyle apparel, footwear and accessories, launches No 1 Way, a creative platform which champions youth culture's constantly evolving self-expressive style, celebrates individuality, and proves there is No 1 Way to pursue one's passion.
The No 1 Way Design Program is an open call for recent graduates of, or current students at, the 85+ Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the country. The competition-based initiative will be launched in partnership with Foot Locker, Inc.'s Portland-based strategic partner, PENSOLE Academy.
Footaction's long-term commitment to HBCU students is a manifestation of the brand's promise to amplify and celebrate the next wave of creative visionaries who continue to push the culture forward. The experience and visibility provided by the No 1 Way competition will foster diversity of talent and champion the idea of creative individuality.
"Footaction's No 1 Way Design Program will create opportunity and bring talents from untapped communities to the forefront," said Richard McLeod, Vice President of Marketing for Footaction. "We are thrilled to be working with PENSOLE Academy as we work to create opportunities for students at HBCUs, share their stories and cultivate their entrepreneurship. This program represents our long-term commitment to nurturing the next generation of talent, while offering them opportunities in design."
PENSOLE founder D'Wayne Edwards and his accomplished roster of academy instructors will lead the competition, providing mentorship and guidance to the students throughout the process. Five finalists will be selected for a three-week PENSOLE Master Class that will support these rising stars and help bring their creative ideas to life as market-ready, apparel-focused capsule collections.
"The No 1 Way Design Program underscores the need to grow and foster diversity and creativity in our industry," said Edwards. "We have chosen to work with HBCU students in order to celebrate the creative energy of this community and develop a platform to foster and express their individuality."
The Master Class will have the chance to showcase its designs during New York Fashion Week in February, with cash prizes going to the top three finalists. A final winner will be selected by a panel of esteemed judges and the winning No 1 Way collection will be produced and sold in Footaction stores nationwide. For more information or to apply to the Master Class, please visit https://pensole.com/competition/no1way/.
Through the No 1 Way platform, Footaction will create an open stage for all creators to share their stories and style through their unique lens. Beyond the design competition – and launching in the coming months – Footaction will also introduce retail and pop-up activations, creative workshops, digital and social content programs, and branded collaborations, which will all speak to the creative and style-conscious community Footaction serves.
Footaction is part of Foot Locker, Inc. (NYSE: FL), a leading global retailer of athletically inspired shoes and apparel. Headquartered in New York City, the company operates approximately 3,175 athletic retail stores in 27 countries, as well as websites and mobile apps, under the brand names Foot Locker, Champs Sports, Eastbay, Kids Foot Locker, Footaction, Lady Foot Locker, Runners Point and Sidestep. With its various marketing channels and experiences across North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, the company's purpose is to inspire and empower youth culture around the world, by fueling a shared passion for self-expression and creating unrivaled experiences at the heart of the sport and sneaker communities.
D'Wayne Edwards, a celebrated member of the global footwear community for the last 30 years, founded PENSOLE in 2010 to give talented young design students—regardless of socioeconomic background—an opportunity to learn from the industry's best, without financial barriers, and to provide the industry with a farm system for the next generation of footwear designers.
PENSOLE's "learn by doing" curriculum teaches students the entire footwear design process: inspiration, concept development, design process, problem-solving, materials, business, networking, marketing, and branding. PENSOLE features the most sought-after faculty in footwear, comprising both young professional designers and established footwear design leaders from the top brands, with more than 100 years combined experience to help its students with professional development. Suzette Henry created MLab at PENSOLE in 2014 as a dedicated resource, providing color technology and material innovation in customized educational programs. And in 2017, Angela Medlin joined PENSOLE as founder and director of the educational product creation resource The Functional Apparel and Accessories Studio (FAAS) at PENSOLE, where students are instructed in "true to industry" processes and sustainable practices.
Since the first PENSOLE class in 2010, more than 475 Academy graduates have been placed professionally, full-time or as interns, for footwear companies worldwide, including Columbia Sportswear, Timberland, Converse, AND1, New Balance, Wolverine, Cole Haan, Under Armour, Keen, Ariat, Stride Rite, adidas, JORDAN, Kenneth Cole, Reebok and Nike.