Gay icons Megan Rapinoe, John Waters among New Faces of Nike

(Photo courtesy of Nike)

(WB) Two highly regarded gay celebrities, soccer star Megan Rapinoe and filmmaker and writer John Waters, have been chosen to represent Nike in its latest promotional campaign.

Rapinoe and Waters are two of the three personalities who are featured in a marketing campaign for both Nordstrom department stores and Nike, the largest sportswear company in the world.

Called “No Cover,” the campaign highlights a collection of five classic Nike shoes that are being reintroduced with new colors and prints, along with more than a dozen new clothing and accessory pieces. Launching Oct. 31, it’s the first collection designed for Nike by Nordstrom’s vice president of creative projects, Olivia Kim. 

To represent the collection, Nike and Nordstrom brought in Rapinoe, co-captain of the 2019 World Cup champion U.S. Women’s soccer team; Waters, the filmmaker behind “Pink Flamingos” and “Hairspray,” and 23-year-old supermodel Binx Walton.

“The collection, in a sense, very much matches the personalities of these people who inspire me,” Kim says on Nike’s website. “It’s amazing to have Megan Rapinoe, John Waters and Binx Walton as faces of the campaign.”

Kim said Rapinoe was chosen for the campaign because she “is talking about some really important things.”

As for Waters, “I’ve always been inspired by John, because he’s always pushed the boundaries in his work,” she said. “He tells simple stories in a humorous, thoughtful and provocative way.”

Walton, who is biracial and was raised largely in Tennessee, is one of today’s busiest models, known for her upbeat attitude as well as her looks. Her brothers gave her the nickname Binx after the Star Wars character, Jar Jar Binks. “Binx is beautiful, and a strong influence to young people,” Kim said.  

The collection will debut in Nordstrom stores in the U.S. and Canada that have Nike x Nordstrom boutiques, and on the Nordstrom.com/xnike website. Nordstrom x Nike shops are in New York City, Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, Vancouver and Toronto. Sales will expand to other Nordstrom locations on Nov. 8.  

No Cover is one of the first Nike campaigns since the company’s 2018 promotion that featured Colin Kaepernick, the former pro football quarterback known for kneeling during the National Anthem to protest oppression and police brutality.

Like Kaepernick, Rapinoe and Waters are known as people who don’t hesitate to speak up for a cause or concept they believe in.

Rapinoe, a professional soccer player and activist who had worked with Nike previously, was on the U. S. women’s soccer team that won a Gold Medal at the 2012 Olympics in London and has been on two World Cup-winning women’s soccer teams, in 2015 and 2019.

Born in Redding, Calif., Rapinoe is an advocate for LGBTQ organizations such as Athlete Ally, a group that works to end homophobia and transphobia in sports. She drew attention in 2016 when she kneeled during the National Anthem at an international soccer match, later admitting that her action was a nod to Kaepernick. This year, she and other soccer players sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender discrimination, as part of an effort to get equal pay for women.

Now 34, Rapinoe lives in the Seattle area with her partner, Seattle Storm basketball star Sue Bird. Last year they became the first same-sex couple to appear on the cover of ESPN’s Body Issue. This year, Rapinoe became the first openly gay woman to be featured in the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.   

In his books, movies and visual art, Waters 73, has always shown a spotlight on the “others” in society, those who don’t conform to “mainstream” standards. Born and still based in Baltimore, and known as the Pope of Trash and the Prince of Puke for early movies such as “Multiple Maniacs” and “Female Trouble,” he uses humor to win people over to his point of view.

Besides “Hairspray,” Waters’s more recent movies include “Polyester,” “Cry-Baby” and “Serial Mom,” and his books include “Shock Value,” “Role Models,” “Carsick” and “Make Trouble.” A popular guest on late night talk shows, he recently released his ninth book, “Mr. Know It All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder,” and he just returned from a speaking tour in Australia. This campaign marks the first time he has represented Nike.

In their own ways, Rapinoe and Waters each lend a sense of edginess and elan to promoting the No Cover collection, which Nike says is meant to evoke “90s New York street fashion” by drawing on the “rave and hip-hop styles” that defined New York at that time.

The collection has four T-shirts: a Striped Tee, a Swoosh Tee, an Air Max 98 Tee and a Peace Sign Tee. Other clothing items include a sports bra, tennis dress, fleece hoodie, puffer coat, beanie and fanny pack. Colors include blue, orange, red and “glitter pink.”

The main part of the collection consists of Kim’s redesigns of Nike’s Air Force 1, Air Mowabb, Air Footscape, Air Max 98 and Air Jordan IV. The side-laced Footscape, first launched in 1996, gets a pink and zebra print. Air Jordan IV stays black but is re-imagined with black pony hair. Air Force 1 comes in blue corduroy with a yellow snakeskin Swoosh. Air Max 98 features red, green and yellow accents. The rugged Air Mowabb hiking shoe gains touches of red and teal.

The name of the collection refers to the cover charge at a New York night spot, Nike explains on its website. “In Kim’s eyes, this collection is meant for everyone – men and women, the young and the old – in order to promote no judgments and no rules,” Nike says.