Soccer, Girl Power, and Hip-Hop: An Exclusive Interview with Designer Melody Ehsani
2019 has been quite the year for women’s sports. From WNBA being added to NBA 2K20 to the USA women’s soccer championship, female athletes are making a splash- and celebrities, brands, and the general public are all taking note- as are designers. Melody Ehsani, renowned streetwear designer (who recently collaborated on projects with Megan Rapinoe, LeBron James, and Reebok and is well-known for her fem-power gear and accessories), is now bringing that enthusiasm to fashion as the designer behind the jerseys for Powerade’s new “POWER HAS NO GENDER” campaign, an homage to the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team.
We sat down with Melody to learn more about how feminism, sports, and yes, hip-hop music, have influenced her latest designs and how she is using her platform to promote equality and self-expression.
The first thing that’s noticeable about the jersey is that it’s a far cry from bland typical sports uniforms and that with the right pairing, it can be worn both on and off the field- an intentional move on Melody’s part as she explains the artistic inspiration behind the design.
“I wanted to do something iconic and classic, but forward and today, so it was really created intentionally to have a fashionable element to it, but also a very practical athletic element to it as well. I feel a lot of times that things are created for women aren’t actually practical. So I used a lot of inspiration from vintage jerseys including the ribbing and some of the wording and put it into a more modern look,” she explains.
While Melody credits Ralph Lauren as one of the designers that she looks up to, her sources of inspiration that go beyond actual designers. “In terms of other inspirations, a lot comes from music, like Ms. Lauryn Hill, Big Daddy Kane….those kinds of things have always inspired me maybe more so than actual designers,” she says.
While the jersey is an homage to the U.S. Women’s National Team, Melody notes that the design transcends one particular team as it was designed to draw attention to the continued conversation around equity in their sport and celebrates future athletes and their supporters. “I think that women and power aren’t associated a lot together. It’s mainly a masculine word. I really wanted to convey the messaging of that with the jersey. Because I wanted to make it something that young women would actually wear,” she says, noting that “I think it’s an ongoing conversation and that’s why I’m so thankful that larger companies like Powerade are using their platforms to make the conversation bigger. If we keep doing it from a grassroots level to the top, it’s going to be something that continues the conversation.”
The design also supports the “Power Has No Gender” campaign with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, whose mission it is to change the narrative and provide access for future female ballers in underserved communities. Together, they will construct three youth soccer fields in New York City, Los Angeles and Atlanta (all named in honor of their power players Alex Morgan, Crystal Dunn, and Kelley O’Hara.) Each field is designated for an area where greenspace is lacking – and provides 1000’s of female youth players 2,000+ extra hours of playing time in safer spaces.
As for Melody, she is currently working on a new Jordan with Nike that is expected to be released in November.
More of Melody’s designs can be found on her site at https://melodyehsani.com/.