A 9-Year-Old Girl Designed Steph Curry's New Under Armour Sneaker

Gender equality meets brand agility

Here's your feel-good story—for brand and consumer alike—on International Women's Day 2019. 

Back in November, a 9-year-old girl from Napa, California, named Riley Morrison went looking on Under Armour's website for Stephen Curry's signature Curry 5 UA basketball shoes. But she couldn't find any in girl sizes—they were only available for boys. So, she did what not many disgruntled 9-year-old shoppers would do: She wrote a letter to Curry expressing her displeasure at the situation. 

The letter is perfectly written—buttering Curry up while at the same time delivering a light scolding. 

"I know you support women athletes because you have two daughters and you host an all girls basketball camp," she wrote toward the end of the letter. "I hope you can work with Under Armour to change this because girl want to rock the Curry 5's too." 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Chris Morrison (@morn24) on

Her letter worked—and then some. Not only did Riley quickly get a personal note back from Curry, she also got a pair of Curry 5's. And she was invited to co-design the the UA ICON Curry 6 "United We Win" colorway, which was introduced Friday for International Women's Day. 

The new kicks are a blend of purple and deep orchid with white. Riley also designed a special sockliner that features two girls playing basketball, surrounded by phrases like "Be Fearless," "Girl Power," "Be the Change," Girls Hoop Too" and "Rock the Currys." 

"I was immediately impressed when I saw Riley's letter—that a 9-year-old girl had the courage to use her voice to call attention to an issue and keep us accountable," Curry said in a statement. "She was focused on the opportunity for ALL girls, not just herself. She's been an amazing catalyst for change—not only with my product but also with the entire Under Armour brand. She is inspiring, and wise beyond her years." 

"I've been kinda blown away, and certainly grateful for the opportunities that Stephen has given me, including sharing inspiration for other girls through the sockliner art. This has been such an incredible experience," Riley said.

There are plenty of lessons for brands here—about listening to your customers; about addressing negativity instead of sweeping it under the rug; about inviting fans not just into your communications but into your product development; about finding authentic ways to spark social change. 

Wisely, UA also backed up the Riley story with even more meaningful action. Proceeds from sales of the Curry 6 "United We Win" sneaker will go toward a $30,000 scholarship that the Stephen and Ayesha Curry Family Foundation and Under Armour have created. It will go to a college-bound female student from the Bay Area who has shown an aptitude for "overcoming adversity, catalyzing change within their community, and demonstrating excellence in a STEM-related field of study." 

The sneakers are available for $130 at UA.com and at the SC30 x Oakland pop-up shop at 472 9th St. in downtown Oakland. 

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and the founding editor of Muse by Clio.