Brittney Griner, the former First Team All-American center for Baylor and now the 1st overall draft pick for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, is having a great year. And it’s definitely getting better as it has been confirmed that she has signed a deal with Nike, making her the first openly gay athlete to sign with the company. What also makes her new business venture all the more unique is that her contract will actually allow her to wear and model men’s apparel for the sports brand. It all makes sense considering it has been a long time since anybody, including Griner herself, has seen the star athlete in women’s apparel. As the Houston Chronicle put it: “The contract reflects Griner’s personal style and her discomfort with traditional women’s fashion.”
In the ESPN cover story on Griner’s life, the partnership was confirmed by Nike spokesman Brian Strong, and the writer, Kate Fagan discussed androgyny and the need for the Nikes, Reeboks, Adidas and other big sports apparel companies to step up and start appealing to the “gender fluid” crowd:
“No sports apparel company has taken it a step further and expressly targeted the gender-fluid crowd — and whether Nike is willing to ride the edge with Griner remains to be seen. ‘We can’t get into specifics,” says Nike spokesman Brian Strong, “but it’s safe to say we jumped at the opportunity to work with her because she breaks the mold.’”
In that same cover story, Griner discussed her affinity for men’s clothes:
“When Griner goes shopping, she often looks for clothes in the men’s section. People will say, “Hey, you’re in the wrong place.” But as she explains, “It’s what I feel comfortable in. It’s my dress identity.” She tells a story from when she was younger: “I remember my mom doing my laundry, and my dad being like, ‘Whose boxers are these?’ And I said, ‘They’re mine’ [raises hand slowly]. I’ve always been totally out there — just on a limb.”
Despite what apparel she puts on for the brand, it’s definitely a great move for her and she’ll be representing for people like her who need to see a confident lesbian woman comfortable with herself and ready to do things her way at all times: “I am 100-percent happy. When I was at Baylor, I wasn’t fully happy because I couldn’t be all the way out. It feels so good saying it: I am a strong, black lesbian woman. Every single time I say it, I feel so much better.” Kudos to you, boo.