PENSOLE – Fueling the Future of Athletic Design Culture!

Yesterday, it has been announced that Foot Locker, Inc. has made a $2 million strategic investment in PENSOLE Inc., which operates – the PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy (“PENSOLE”). PENSOLE was founded by former Jordan Design Director and inspirational educator D’Wayne Edwards.

This investment by Foot Locker, Inc. deepens Foot Locker’s longstanding partnership with PENSOLE and extends the companies’ relationship across all aspects of the design process.

“Through this investment, we are excited to extend our partnership with PENSOLE, an organization that shares our deep commitment to fostering education and driving design innovation and excellence in the industry,” 

Richard Johnson, Foot Locker’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

PENSOLE’s success speaks for itself, with 400 graduates currently working in the sneaker industry since its first class in 2010.

The partnership is no surprise as Foot Locker Inc. has been an active supporter of Edwards and PENSOLE since 2015 with its annual Master Class design competition.  Thirty of those students are currently working in the industry. Foot Locker has also sold three styles created from the class globally.

 “It has always been our joint mission to foster the next generation of emerging footwear and apparel design talent, and I am confident that our collaboration will contribute to the continued growth of the academy, success of our students, and accelerated innovation in the footwear industry.”

D’Wayne Edwards, Founder of PENSOLE Footwer Design Academy

Together, Foot Locker, Inc., its vendor partners, and PENSOLE, will collaborate on new educational programs and the design and manufacturing of exclusive products for the Foot Locker, Inc. family of brands.

Last-Report would like to congratulate the PENSOLE  Footwear Design Academy and its staff on the continued successful development of designers of the future – we will continue to update this story as the developments grow.

About D’Wayne Edwards

A celebrated member of the global sneaker community for three decades, Edwards’ mission at PENSOLE is to create a pipeline of new designers for the entire footwear industry. He does this by offering free tuition and a learn-by-doing curriculum that teaches students the entire footwear and apparel design process, from product inspiration and concept development, to manufacturing and branding.

Feb 11 update. Q&A with D’Wayne Edwards


1 – This partnership is on the heels of the Stadium Goods and Farfetch deal, where a luxury retailer is securing a foothold in the sneaker culture following. In this case Foot Looker Inc., in a way, is securing a fully functional design house – which is a phenomenal idea. Was this part of the plan? DE: Yes! PENSOLE is an unconventional educational academy and we want to empower our students to design their future, and what better way than to combine their talents with a retailer like Foot Locker to distribute it? During my career, I have never been afraid to try something new and I am sure after we establish this new model other schools will follow us. 


2 – What are some of the PENSOLE programs you will implement first – Are there any new programs that you having been waiting to put out? 

DE: We will create a program targeted exclusively to identify, develop and place African Americans in our industry. We represent about 1% of all designers in my industry and I NEED to change that. Other programs will be focused on high school students and a global online program to increase our international reach. I do not have a complacent personality so I am always trying to grow and get better.


3 – This partnership will more than likely result in the increase of brand awareness for PENSOLE – is expansion of the current facility, to accommodate an influx of students, part of the strategy? 

DE: Yes, we will first increase our staff so we can be in a better position for growth. With that employee growth, we will need more space. So, yes, we will be growing A LOT over the next two years. I see us easily doubling our staff and square footage.


4 – One can already imagine the impact Foot Locker will have on PENSOLE. But there are two parties involved that share common interest. What impact do you think PENSOLE will have on Foot Locker, Inc. with this partnership? 

DE: Good point. I believe we allow Foot Locker to speak to their consumers in a new way, which will naturally lead to increased brand loyalty and sales. We also allow Foot Locker to have a solid foundation of how they can give back and encourage the next generation to make an impact on our industry and eventually their company as well. Foot Locker already does some great things, but we just help them create a closer consumer connection.


5 – Design is no laughing matter and PENSOLE has always meant serious business to the industry and those 400 plus graduates – what is your future vision for PENSOLE? 

DE: To redefine education! Yes, that is a big goal but that is what drives me. Education in its current form is broken, and it needs to change, and I would rather lead by example than complain.


5½ – What book have you read recently? 

DE: I have read this book about 50 times and it never gets old: Rules of the Red Rubber Ball, by Kevin Carroll.

Tanita Gray

Editor-In-Chief, Publisher and Founder of, and CEO of Shoes Waste. Gray is a footwear, accessory and apparel designer/developer by day - writer and content architect by night. With over 17 years of experience in the fashion industry, you can find her teaching sustainability classes, drawing thumbnails, writing in her journal, giving her husband & children enormous hugs, or eating french fries.

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