D’Wayne Edwards, a former Air Jordan designer, is spearheading diversity in the sneaker industry through his design school and a mission to support more Black people in footwear.
D'Wayne Edwards was one of a handful of Black designers in the sneaker industry when he got his start in 1989.
With a career that spans three decades, Edwards spent 10 years as Nike's footwear design director between 2001 and 2011, where he designed for the Air Jordan brand. To date, Edwards has created over 500 styles for athletes like Derek Jeter, Carmelo Anthony, and Michael Jordan.
As Edwards’ career progressed, he began to notice a lack of Black representation in the industry. In 2010, Edwards started Pensole, a design academy that encourages the next wave of young footwear designers on their path into the industry.
"I realized there was just a greater purpose for my existence in this industry than just to design shoes for athletes,” he says. Since its founding, Pensole has placed more than 475 graduates in brands such as Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas.
Edwards is also a driving force behind the African American Footwear Forum (AAFF), an organization that works to address and solve diversity issues in the footwear industry. In 2016, Edwards was awarded the President Volunteer of Service Award in 2016 by President Barack Obama.