LaToya Kamara Manley is the global footwear product director for Jordan Women’s at Nike. In her role, she seeks out consumer insights to create a line that is dedicated to building Jordan Women’s brand footprint for women. She works to ensure that products are relevant, fit the look that the consumer is trying to create, and vibe with what the consumer wants to present to the public.
Where did your love for sneakers come from?
I’m from Portland, Oregon, born and raised, and if you’re familiar with Portland it’s the birthplace of Nike. I was raised essentially in Nike town, so I’ve always had a love of sneakers. That was expounded by having a love of fashion, music, and Black culture, and wanting to be a part of the community that exists within sneaker culture.
I grew up in this industry, and it’s always been a part of who I am. I’ve always been very passionate about women in particular in the sneaker culture, because I’m old enough where you used to Google women and sneakers, and you will find one woman wearing Air Force Ones in a bikini, and that representation wasn’t meaningful enough for me, so I knew that I wanted to be a part of this industry and to make change in this industry.
What does your role at Jordan Women’s involve?
I’m in the lifestyle space, so we’re looking at our wide range of consumers which consists of girls going to work, girls being fly at the club, and girls who need to shoes for the daytime. We’re not necessarily thinking about one particular athlete or asset, we really try to look at serving millions of consumers ideally.
We do have ways that we pinpoint where we know this is a sharp place where we can get after and it’ll maybe influence the broader scheme of the marketplace, but we spend a lot of time doing a lot of research and meeting with a lot of people to gather as much as we can, and then bring it into more of a narrow scope.
How have women in the sneaker culture evolved over the years?
It has changed the game. There used to be a time when women were wearing a lot of sneakers on Saturday or Sunday, and she’d say “It’s my shoe that I run errands in or I go to the gym in.” Now it’s just a part of her daily wear. It’s a part of her attire where it’s acceptable, and it’s fashionable to wear sneakers with whatever you want to wear them with. It doesn’t have to just be pants and sweats, it can be anything.
I think it took a while for women to develop their own style around how to wear sneakers. Now I see so many women wearing them with suits dresses and at more fancy events.