Moolah Kicks, designed specifically for women, signs the first striking players: Destanni Henderson, Caroline Ducharme

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Moolah Kicks, the pioneering shoe specifically for women’s basketball players, will hit college and professional courts in Division I after signing its first two players from Division I powerhouses and announcing its Neovolt Pro model on Thursday.

Connecticut guard Caroline Ducharme will wear the shoe in a name, image and likeness (NIL) agreement when the NCAA season begins next month and Indiana Fever guard Destanni Henderson, national champion with Carolina South, will lace them up exclusively in 2023 when the WNBA season begins.

“Girl basketball players, from 5 years old to all pros, are now wearing Moolah Kicks and supporting the brand and it’s just amazing,” Natalie White, founder and CEO of Moolah Kicks, 24, told Yahoo. Sports.

The shoe, which first hit the market in 2021, is the first designed specifically for the female foot and is the only performance shoe designed by and for female gamers, the company said. They have already filled a glaring gap in the shoe market for high school students, lower-level colleges and overseas players, as women-led and women-focused brands continue to thrive when given the opportunity. .

“In basketball, most of us wear men’s shoes,” Henderson wrote in an email to Yahoo Sports. “The perception is that they’ve always had better quality materials and more colorways, so Moolah kicks are a real game-changer for women.”

Henderson, a 5-7 guard, averaged 5.3 ppg and 2.5 apg in 16.4 mpg as a rookie with the fever and is not playing on the road this WNBA offseason. She told Yahoo Sports that she didn’t even know her height in women when Moolah asked her and found it “funny and a fit.” She said her feet often hurt in other shoes, but the Moolah Kicks were comfortable, which is crucial since feet “are the foundation of everything we do.”

Ducharme, a 6-foot-2 sophomore guard from Massachusetts, first met White with his sister, Ashley Ducharme. They played summer pickup games at Boston College, where White first pitched the idea for Moolah as a senior in 2019. Ashley now works at Moolah corporate and Ducharme will be in heavy demand while the Huskies are without former National Player of the Year Paige Bueckers.

“For us, that’s what’s most important,” White said. “This is a performance sneaker and a performance brand. We don’t want to be used with just any type of lifestyle use. All of our focus is really on them playing in the sneakers and about them doing their best on the pitch.

Connecticut’s Caroline Ducharme will wear Moolah Kicks during the 2022-23 women’s college basketball season. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Moolah Kicks reaches an untapped market

Moolah Kicks has grown rapidly since its launch in January 2020 as it tackled a persistent hole in the market and clung to the growing furor over inequality in sports. The sneakers weren’t designed for women, and White, a longtime basketball player, had the same issues as any other woman. The toes hit the top of the shoes. Raised ankles and heels. Foot pain after long use and long break-in period. All were “symptoms of wearing gear that didn’t fit us,” White said.

“I think as female basketball players, we never questioned that,” White told Yahoo Sports. “And that’s something I didn’t really question. When I first put them on and played them, I probably had the same reaction as everyone else. “Oh my god, my toe touches the top of my shoes all the time,” and we think that’s normal. And it is not. That was the most revealing.

Medicine and science have often treated men and women as equal and interchangeable, so researchers use the male body for studies and prioritize men’s health for funding. Yet research on gender differences in adult foot shape and its implications for health and injury prevention is widely studied, published, and applied to other activities such as running and hiking.

“In basketball, there has never been a women’s option or a brand specifically dedicated to creating women-friendly sneakers,” White told Yahoo Sports. “So what we’ve really done is take all that research, consult with experts in the field of footwear [and] worked with the best latest manufacturer in the world to fit it. And [we] applied it to the end of basketball.

The last is a mechanical last shaped like a human foot and used to design shoes that are comfortable, useful, and activity-specific. Moolah uses a last designed for a woman’s foot so the inner fit forms better than a shoe designed for a man’s foot. White calls it the “signature women’s fit” and new advancements for the Neovolt Pro will make that even better. There’s a high energy return midsole for a faster push off, a stability control heel for a quicker first step, and a webbing lacing system for an even better fit.

It’s not just about feel and performance, it’s about safety, because a shoe designed best for that specific activity and movement will reduce injury. Women are more prone to lower body injuries, particularly ACL tears, in part because of anatomical differences in hip structure. Ill-fitting equipment can also impact it.

“You can reduce your risk of injury by wearing gear that’s specifically designed for you and that’s how the inside of every one of our sneakers is constructed,” White said.

“Full Loop” with WNBA signing

White called the Neovolt Pro model out for a loop moment. The spark to launch Moolah Kicks came from an ad on a shoe company’s website showing four WNBA superstars each brandishing different models of NBA player shoes. The social involvement of WNBA players marketing men’s shoes combined with the performance issue bothered White.

“It’s always been a bit unfair that we wear designer shoes with men’s names on them,” Henderson wrote in an email to Yahoo Sports. “We play too. Our league is awesome. Our fans love us. I think what Natalie and her team are doing is amazing, and I’m happy to be a part of it and to support Moolah Kicks as a brand.”

It clearly bothered others, even if they hadn’t seen that particular ad. Moolah started with a crowdfunding campaign in May 2021 for fans to pre-order a pair and he achieved his goal of making them. After White made a cold call to Dick’s Sporting Goods, which deepened its investment in sportswear for girls and women, the Phantom 1 in four colorways became available in 140 stores last fall.

Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks team owner, businessman and Moolah investor/advisor, gave him a cry. Most of the reviews on Dick’s website come from parents who had previously searched “unsuccessfully” for comfortable, comfortable basketball shoes for their daughters. Everyone noted the fit. A “Paint Shop” pack with four additional colorways soon followed. For the Neovolt Pro, the store doubles that to more than 450 stores, more than half of its locations nationwide.

“Now we have Destanni Henderson supporting Moolah Kicks by and for ballerinas in just two years,” White said. “It really shows how excited the market was and speaks to the product and the company.”



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