In honor of Black History Month, the fashion company Playa Society, which has a longstanding relationship with the world of women’s basketball, has released a specialized sweatshirt celebrating the contributions of Black women in the WNBA and society at large.
After its release was announced with a tweet on Feb. 3, the 100 percent cotton and gender-neutral sweatshirt, which is embroidered in the WNBA colors of orange and black, is in limited edition and has already generated buzz on social media with various luminaries in women’s basketball already saying that they will make a purchase. Among them include WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes, media personality Brittney Elena, and WNBA analyst Terrika Foster-Brasby of ESPN.
The founder of Playa Society is Esther Wallace, a former college and pro basketball player turned fashion designer. A graduate of Dickinson University in New Jersey who played and coached overseas in Durham, England, Wallace has her finger on the pulse of what the women’s game is looking for in terms of making a statement with its attire. Thus, she had no issue in finding inspiration for this particular sweatshirt.
“I think the inspiration speaks for itself,” she said. “The players are the inspiration behind everything I do. I wanted to do something to celebrate the league.”
In a league where over 80 percent of the players are Black women and where racial and social justice has been a longstanding priority, this sweatshirt, no pun intended, fits perfectly.
Wallace says that she has been seeing a lot of orders coming in and players reaching out. She is anticipating more donning their sweatshirts and tagging Playa Society on social media. She also expects more gear coming in later this year.
For her, this is a labor of love and an expression of all that the sport has meant to her as a player and now as a designer.
“Having an understanding of being a woman in basketball, my perspective covers all the bases,” she said. “I became the basketball-obsessed athlete and then I got into coaching and played overseas. Now I am an advocate and a fan, understanding the players and their needs and creating the hype these women deserve.”
She is also doing her part to give back to Black women with 80 percent of the profits generated from the sweatshirt being donated to Black Girl Ventures, a social enterprise company aimed at empowering black women entrepreneurs and eradicating the racial and gender gaps in access to capital.
At a crucial time in society when Black history is under assault from different angles and the history itself is being significantly watered down, Wallace looks upon this month as a time of celebration, representation, and pride. She is unapologetic in the work that she does and will continue to lean on those who came prior.
“Black history is about representation, who we are, where we come from,” she said. “It is about celebrating everything that is happening in our culture and being proud of our culture and all the amazing things that Black people have contributed to society. “