D’Wayne Edwards wants to make the footwear industry “better.”
During the 2020 FNAAs, Edwards was honored with the Icon Award for Social Impact for dedicating himself to racial equality in the footwear industry as the founder of Pensole Footwear Design Academy.
Edwards was presented with the award by basketball star Baron Davis, who shared he is a “huge fan and admirer” of Edwards.
“Being from Inglewood, Calif., right in the heart of South Central, having a dream, a dream to design footwear, not only footwear for the most iconic brand, for the most iconic sports figure, the Jordan Brand,” said Davis. “But the thing that he’s most amazing for was taking this opportunity and all the things that he learned [to build] Pensole Academy. He’s built an institution, and he’s built a school. Pensole, being a place for the kids who are just like D’Wayne, in Inglewood, all across America who have come from marginalized communities to allow them to have the opportunity to live out their dreams. I for one, am a huge fan and an admirer, so I present this award to you.”
Upon accepting the award, which he said was an “amazing honor,” Edwards admitted that he’s “never looked at myself as an activist, or what we do as activism.”
“I’ve always looked at it as what we’re supposed to do,” Edwards continued. “Our mission is to make this industry better, better than when we entered it. Our mission is to make sure this industry does more. This award really inspires us to do more for future generations to come. Our purpose is to show this industry what could happen if you invest into your consumers, and you view them and value them as more than just being consumers,” Edwards explained.
“Thank you Footwear News for this award, thank you to Jordan Brand for allowing me to fly. Thank you to the Pensole family for your loyalty and your passion and love for giving back and doing all the things you’ve done for us. I just want to say thank you to everyone else who believed in me, who believed in Pensole, believed in the work that we’re doing. This award is not just for me, it’s for all of us.”
Edwards’ Portland, Ore.-based organization provides educational opportunities to underserved youths and facilitates connections for employment and internships at major brands, where Black voices are scarce. Edwards, who held the role as design director at Jordan Brand, launched Pensole Academy in 2011. Some of his graduates have gone on to big brand such as: Adidas, Nike, Under Armour and more.
For 34 years, the annual FN Achievement Awards — often called the “Shoe Oscars” — have celebrated the style stars, best brand stories, ardent philanthropists, emerging talents and industry veterans. The first virtual FNAAs are presented in partnership with The Style Room Powered by Zappos, and sponsors FDRA, Deckers Brands, Soles4Souls and Foot Locker.