In FN’s February magazine, Jordan Brand president Craig Williams joined retailer James Whitner, designer Aleali May and WNBA champ Aerial Powers for an exclusive discussion about their efforts to celebrate Black culture and improve conditions for the Black community.
During FN’s cover shoot last month, a charismatic Aerial Powers easily gets her Jordan Brand family laughing in between camera snaps.
But behind her smile and bright personality is a woman focused on a deeper purpose: the fight for gender equality. And at Jordan Brand, which Powers joined as an ambassador in June 2021, the 28-year-old Minnesota Lynx player has a dedicated partner in that cause.
In recent years, the athletic company has invested more time and resources to catering to women with dedicated product releases. Those efforts are matched by its marketing team, which has signed more female athletes and given them space in the spotlight, as illustrated in last year’s ad featuring Michael Jordan and nine of the brand’s sponsored WNBA stars, including Powers.
And Jordan Brand confirmed with FN when the next WNBA season tips off, it plans to launch programs that will help make its athletes household names.
Powers said much of the brand’s push is due to Jasmine Jordan, MJ’s daughter and Jordan Brand’s basketball field rep for women’s sport marketing.
“The first time we were in talks with Jordan Brand, Jasmine was on the calls, and you could tell the passion she has for women athletes. She was just as excited about having us on board,” Powers said. “Her passion made me feel there was somebody fighting for us on the other side.”
What’s more, not only is Jordan Brand signing WNBA stars, they’ve committed to providing equal treatment.
Jasmine Jordan told FN because the brand is most established in men’s sports, there are differences between the businesses. “But once we started to expand the roster, [we were] having the conversations of, ‘We say we’re Jordan Family, we’re offering white-glove service to tier 1 athletes. Let’s make sure that is felt when we bring these ladies on board too,’” she said.
For her part, Powers believes that being part of the Jordan Brand could have long-reaching impacts on sports and sneaker culture.
“They’re promoting us in a way where younger girls are going to see us in Jordan Brand stuff,” she said. “When I was growing up, I would watch the WNBA players and what they wore, and it does make a difference.”
That mission mirrors what Powers is trying to accomplish in the gaming world, a space rampant with bullying of women.
In 2019, the first women, Chiquita Evans, was drafted in the NBA2K esports league, but the following year no female gamers were named. Frustrated with the lack of opportunities, Powers launched her own all-women’s event in October 2020 called Powerz Up NBA 2K20 Tournament, which provided a safe space for women to play.
Those efforts helped Powers land the diversity ambassador role at Team Liquid in January 2021 — which was quickly followed by the invitation from Jordan Brand. (Michael Jordan is an investor in Team Liquid’s parent company, aXiomatic.)
“Everything I was doing with Team Liquid in DEI, it matched Jordan Brand because they have this passion for creating equal opportunity for women as well,” Powers said. “It’s a big deal for me because I’m right there in the forefront of everything they want to do to empower women.”