Breanna Stewart has won four NCAA Championships, two WNBA Championships, two Olympic gold medals, two EuroLeague Championships, two country championships in Europe. She also has two signature sneakers with Puma. Her latest, the Stewie 2, releases on May 19 (at $125 retail) and is coming off the success of a first shoe with Puma that helped usher in a new trend of women signature athletes in basketball.
The Stewie 2 is a mid/low-cut sneaker that comes equipped with Puma’s Nitro foam in the midsole and an engineered mesh upper. The debut colorway of the shoe is all-red in tribute to Stewart’s daughter, Ruby, and reminiscent of the ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz.
The sneakers have the latest basketball technology, but also are simple-looking enough to be worn off the court, something that Stewart is proud to see. And while this is already her second sneaker with Puma, Stewart is looking ahead to her third sneaker with the brand, which could be on the way.
To find out more about the shoe, including the impact it’s had on young girls and the footwear industry as a whole, we spoke to Stewart. This interview has been edited for clarity.
What was the process like creating the Stewie 2?
The process of creating the Stewie 2 just really flowed from the end of the Stewie 1. Just continuing to create modifications, things that I liked, didn’t like, making sure we were using the latest Nitro foam. But ever since I knew that I was going to have a signature, I wanted to have a Ruby shoe. And there was no way to have it come that quickly and be a part of the Stewie 1. That’s why it was a part of the Stewie 2. I think it’s probably my favorite shoe, obviously, because it resembles my daughter, Ruby. But just the strength of all mothers, and the ability to be a working mom, especially, wanting to be the best in both worlds.
Was that always an idea in your head? Obviously, your daughter Ruby and then The Wizard of Oz, the ruby shoes. Did you have that idea a long time ago, and it was just like, “Boom, that’s what the concept is”?
Yeah. I did, and the shoe, I wanted it to be all of the ruby color. I didn’t want any other colors. I wanted it to be pretty solid. Because I think, when you think of The Wizard of Oz, or just a ruby in general, it’s loud enough. It’s bright enough. And from there, just being able to put the little details on this shoe. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but it has her name, but also her birthdate in there. Just really cool ties to her.
How helpful were the Puma designers at trying to get the design down for you?
The designers were really helpful. I think with Puma, I feel like anytime I have an idea they’re like, “Alright. We’ll try to figure it out. We’ll try to make it work.” And once we had the base of the 2, and then the color that I wanted, they were able to help me find little areas to make it significant to me. With Ruby’s name and birthday, with the graphic on the tongue, it’s my logo, and then the rubies coming out of it. I can’t believe we’re at the 2 already, but just really loving all the minor details in there as well.
You’ve been a fan of the low-cut shoes. What is it about that that you love so much?
I have always been a fan of the low-cut shoes for most of my career, but really post-Achilles surgery. Anything that kind of just stays off the scar is better for me, so it’s not rubbing or anything like that. That’s why we obviously stayed with the low-cut. The cushion is better than the previous shoe. But also, it feels more rounded and more fitting to exactly everything that I’m going to do on my foot.
Did you know that when you had the 1? In your head were you already like, “These are the tweaks I want to make to it on the next shoe”?
A little bit. I think, if you look at the models side-by-side, on the 1, it’s a little bit more jagged. Especially at the top, where you’re going to go over your toe. And on the 2, it’s more rounded. I think both work really well. But I feel like, as I’m evolving from the 1 to the 2, I think the shoe needs to evolve, too.
Was there any thought process of creating it that you wanted to make a sneaker that you could wear off-the-court as well?
Yeah. I mean, definitely part of the design. And hopefully later down the line, we’ll have a lifestyle shoe come out. But yeah, I think that’s an added piece to it. If you look at the Stewie 2, if you look at the Ruby shoe, you can wear that on-the-court and also off-the-court. And you won’t be walking around and people will be like, “Eh, I don’t know if that goes.” You could kind of make it work, especially in the summertime, going from gyms and stuff like that. But I think it’s important. My grandparents, they wear the Stewies all the time. The 1s, the 2s. They’re wearing them everywhere, but I want everyone to be able to do that.
Being one of the first women players in a long while to get a shoe, what was the reception like on the first model?
I think the reception was great. Once we announced the Stewie 1, everyone was really excited and getting behind it. And also crazy, because it was the tenth (women’s) signature shoe, first one in 10 years. So many milestones that shouldn’t have been.
But I think people are starting to realize that this is going to be a sense of normal. This should be something that’s expected more often. For me, having the 2 come out, you see Elena Delle Donne with her shoe. Sabrina’s going to have a shoe. And hopefully we’ll get to this point where there’s many prominent athletes of the WNBA being able to represent signature shoes, and just more marketable for the fan.
Did you get any feedback from Puma on how well the shoe performed sales-wise, or what the fervor over it was on the market?
I don’t have the numbers on that, but I think they all perform well. I hope they all perform well. But I think the fact that they’re kind of timed at the perfect timing, with the “Four Time” coming out around March Madness, and then having reintroduced “Causing Trouble,” “Quiet Fire.” The only thing that I’m excited about this year, and I think it’s going to be even better, is I’m going to have my shoe for start-of-season. So, I’ll be wearing it. But also, when we start, season opener, May 19, “Ruby” will also be available for people to buy. Whereas last year it was a little delayed with COVID and just trying to still work through that. Now, we’ll have the Stewie 2 for the start of the season.
What’s the feedback you get from young girls? Now that they can purchase a signature shoe from a woman they look up to.
Excitement. I think a lot of young kids that I know from family friends, or just the ones that I see. Even when we were in Connecticut two days ago, watching these kids run on the court for a halftime show or a timeout. And I saw one of the young girls wearing my “Causing Troubles,” and people are asking me to sign them all the time.
So I think this is a moment that people have been waiting for, and now the opportunity has finally presented itself where people can get behind it. Young girls, I hope, when they go in the store, they want to get the Stewies because they want to feel like they’re playing like me. That’s the story that I want to portray to them, is you can get these, and we can be playing literally in the same basketball shoes.
Did you get Ruby any infant-size shoes yet?
Yep. She has them. She has some custom Rubies, because we had did a photoshoot back in February. So she’s had them since then, but she couldn’t wear them, either. So now, when she goes to school, she could probably wear them.
You said hopefully the 3 is coming up. Is that something that you’ve started to work on already?
Yeah. We’re just keeping it going at this point. And from here on out, it just gets bigger and better.
When you started the partnership, was it already cemented that it was going to be a long-term thing? Or was it like they did the first shoe, and it was wait and see how it goes?
To be honest, I was so wrapped up in the 1 that I didn’t . As a player and someone behind-the-scenes in these types of things, I wasn’t aware of how ahead-of-time you need to be with this. So obviously, we started the Stewie 1 in 2021. And then shortly after that, when you’re getting to the later parts of the Stewie 1s they’re like, “Alright. Now we need to talk about 2.” And I was like, “Wait, what? What do you mean? We’re not even finished with 1.” So I had hoped that we would continue, but I’m sure everybody wanted to make sure that this shoe was making the impact that it needed.