It’s been nearly five years since the WNBA star Skylar Diggins Smith He became the first basketball player to sign with Puma in nearly two decades. At the time, her decision was called out fearlessly, considering the brand didn’t even have basketball shoes to play with yet.
“I was listening to see and took a leap of faith coming from other brands,” said Diggins Smith, the all-star guard at Phoenix Mercury, after starting her career with Nike and wearing adidas in college.
After putting up a handful of basketball silhouettes coined by the famous brand Clyde shoes – The first signature sneaker made for an NBA player, named after the 1970s New York Knicks guard Walt “Clyde” Frazier – Puma’s vision for athletics began to take shape a year ago.
The brand has added fashion designer and designer John Ambrose as Creative Director of Puma Women’s Basketball with the launch of Supreme Court group late 2021. It served as a springboard for the brand highlighting the mix of diverse silhouettes that can work on or off the court.
Along the way, Diggins-Smith was making her own capsule series—sneakers, jersey dress, shorts and a T-shirt—dubbed the “Desert Sky” collection.
When Diggins-Smith started creating the series with a team of Puma designers, she looked at the nature of the city she currently calls home.
“It’s a representation of duality to me,” she said. “When I came out here and saw that there were mountains and how beautiful they were, there was something about the sunrise and sunset, and the color caught my attention. When I think of the sunrise, I think of the opportunities and the new seasons. When I think of the sunset, I think of the reflection and that contrast.”
While the colors are inspired by the landscapes of Phoenix, the shades of orange and purple also relate directly to her team’s colors. During the time when the WNBA and NBA no longer had any sneaker color rules, this became a bit rare for groups of athletes.
Posing by the pool with sneakers, or styling in a modern mansion in a long jersey dress, even the way campaign photos were shot took on a new feel for Diggins-Smith and Puma.
“I loved it and the versatility of not just standing in the gym and bouncing the ball,” she said.
When she debuted pieces from the set, the Mercury star took advantage of paparazzi waiting for her arrival for another photoshoot to enter the home game tunnel. She hurriedly wore her #4 jersey dress, snakeskin pants, and boots, and carried the TRC Blaze Court “Desert Sky” sneakers.
“You see more and more players who are very much looking forward to what they are doing nowadays,” she said. “I love that people care about it, because there is a lot of storytelling that goes with these outfits that we put together. Details that tell us a lot about someone’s personal style.”
For example, the jersey dress in the collection represents the late ’90s and early 2000s for Diggins-Smith.
“It was so nostalgic when I first started loving basketball and started jumping, that kind of vibrant color at the time,” she said.
The set also includes a graphic T-shirt related to the Diggins-Smith family, their journey in the sport, and their starting point with Puma.
On the T-shirt there is a boisterous Puma cat on the front side, and the words “You Do You” written below. It’s a reference to the letter of encouragement her mother Renee, who knows American Sign Language, gave her before her youth basketball games.
“She always sat upstairs, so she could be in her zone,” Diggins-Smith recalls. “What she did, she would sign me, ‘You do you.’ Like, you do your own thing. No matter what, just be yourself and don’t be like everyone else.”
Along the tongue of the sneaker and the left sleeve of the shirt are a series of sign language cues that spell out the phrase.
“Even when I was playing in front of thousands and thousands of people, I would still see her in the crowd and she would say the same thing to me when she comes to the games now. That was the symbolism there.” My mom always encouraged me to be myself, and that’s the message I want to feel It has everyone. In this day and age, where everyone is trying to imitate someone or imitate someone, just do it.”
When she appeared at her sixth WNBA All-Star Game last month in Chicago, Diggins-Smith donned her “Desert Sky” sneakers, revealing additional phrases on both heel straps. On the left side he wrote the word “Beauty”, opposite the word “Beast”.
“It’s really about that duality,” she said. “When you meet me off the court or out of that element, I’m different. When I’m in that fight-or-flight moment and the competitive juices are running, it’s like I never know what I’m going to do in the next minute.”
Since signing Diggins-Smith in 2017, the women’s Puma Hoops lineup has added former WNBA number one Brenna Stewart, Jackie Young, and bowler Katie Lou Samuelson and most recently in May, NaLyssa Smith picked No. 2.
Diggins-Smith, Stewart and Young appeared in this year’s All-Star Game.
“We are well represented there for our brand, considering that 60% of our products [Puma] List,” I joked.
With the debut of Stewart’s signature “Stewie 1” shoe – the first WNBA signature shoe in a decade – and Diggins-Smith’s upcoming “Desert Sky” range, Puma plans to continue highlighting the five WNBA titles.
“It’s such a psychedelic that the brand continues to set standards for brands with what we do,” said Diggins-Smith. “Showing that they invest in the athletes, it goes beyond the field and increases the game.”