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The A&T Register

The Student News Site of North Carolina A&T State University

The A&T Register

The Student News Site of North Carolina A&T State University

The A&T Register

N.C. A&T student designs one of the first HBCU-inspired Nike dunks

Senior journalism student Arial Robinson adds sneaker designer to her ever-growing list of accomplishments, after officially designing a the NC A&T Nike dunks virtually, all from her room. 

The young designer began her journey of developing the Nike sneakers when she was asked by the Nike Yardrunners program to be a part of their 2021 cohort. 

Established in the year 2020, the Nike Yardrunners program focuses on talented HBCU students who have made their mark on campus. 

“All the people who worked on this campaign, for the most part, they either went to HBCUs or they understand the importance of HBCUs, and so they were like ‘Ok well we want to bring you on the team,’” Robinson said.

Robinson first began creating Nike-inspired content at home in 2020 during the government shutdown and later became a part of Nike’s 2021 class, Yardrunners 2.0.

As a result of her work, she was gifted a pair of Nike sneakers from the company to show their appreciation for the content she had created.

Robinson later took the shoes she was gifted and continued to create more Nike content as she had done before.

“They really liked that I took that initiative to show how I could market the product, how it works with HBCU students and HBCU stories,” Robinson said. 

Robinson was later selected to work on the Yardrunners 2.0 campaign the following year as an assistant creative director. 

After wrapping up her time with the company, Nike reached out to Robinson about the opportunity to design a shoe ahead of the reveal of the new class in the Yardrunners 3.0 program.

“It took a while for it to sit in,” Robinson said. “I think it didn’t really hit me until we got on zoom and they showed me the first sample.” 

Robinson’s inspiration for the shoe ironically came from an old article from The A&T Register.

“Funny enough, this idea started with an article from The Register,” Robinson said. “In 1967, the Editor-in-Chief, Willie A. Drake, in his letter to the editor, talked about how he wanted the student center to be joy in the morning, joy in the afternoon, joy in the evening and joy at night.” 

In a blog post published by Robinson, she expressed the shared visions and influence that Drake’s article had in her design of the dunks.

“Just like Willie Drake of 1967 I want to share that joy in the morning, noon, and night. So I packed the concrete walls, big yellow stairs and always cut grass into a shoe,” Robinson said.

During the process of researching and designing, Robinson poured herself into producing something that represents what she believed is the center and core of what N.C A&T is. 

“When thinking about what is an embodiment of the entire school but tells a greater story, it started with the student center, and it started with this letter to the editor,” Robinson said.

Robinson believes that her sneaker design is a product that showcases the diversity and culture of NC A&T and its students.

“HBCUs were created to provide a physical space for students, and the student center at A&T is doing that, they’re giving people a safe space within these walls,” Robinson said. “Experiences are not linear. I think that is what makes a perfect shoe, when you have multiple different things going on, as opposed to just slapping on some colors and saying that is culture.”

The Ayantee NSC Dunks are sold out on the official Nike SNKRS website but were being sold for $120.00. 

To follow more of Robinson’s journey and stay up to date on her, follow her Instagram and her creative journal on Instagram as well.

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