An interview with Swin Cash: Basketball, the WNBA and fashion

A session at the State of Style Summit in New York last fall focused on an unusual choice of fashion icon: two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA basketball star Swin Cash.  But fashion is a topic that has always been a challenge for the Pennsylvania native, who addressed a crowd of fashion designers, editors and other industry insiders at the 92YTribeca.

“I’m 6’1” – a pretty big girl – and I’ve been pretty big for a really long time,” Cash said.  “I also know about women who play sports and are into fashion, which I think is a huge market.  I know this because I’m at Nordstrom – and I wear a size 11½ – and we’re fighting for the big shoe rack, and trying to figure out who’s going to get there first.”

“A lot of sports companies are trying to cater to who are working out, who are athletic and have that lifestyle,” she added.  “I think that is very important, that we focus on the women who are not only active, and moms and everyone else, but also those who want to transition from day to night.  Although I am 6’1”, a lot of the women who I play basketball with, who are my friends, we all love heels.”

The former University of Connecticut standout (two NCAA Division I titles) and Chicago Sky forward (three WNBA championships with Detroit and Seattle) spoke to Meniscus Magazine about her 2012 Olympic experience, the state of the WNBA, how she would redesign women’s basketball uniforms and much more.

Meniscus Magazine: So, how different is it playing for Geno [Auriemma, Cash’s coach at UConn and at the Olympics] in 2012 versus back in the day?  Has he changed much?

Cash: Ummm, he’s changed a little bit.  But it was an exciting time.  I think playing with the other girls that I played with in college and to see the younger UConn girls there: that was the real pleasure at the Olympics.  We were all able to bond once again.

And then, also the WNBA.  Now it’s established.  A number of years have gone by and different drafts.  What do you think has changed there?  What do you see in terms of the fan base, and people coming out and so on?

Well, the one thing about the WNBA that I can see that is amazing is the talent level that is coming into the league.  Girls see the WNBA as an established league that’s been here for a long time.  So they’re starting to actually work on their games at a younger age.  You see more and more girls coming into the league, the new wave of Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins, Elena Delle Donne.  I think all these different players have started honing in their craft, and that’s going to make the league that much more competitive and that much better.

Would you say it’s mostly from a U.S. standpoint or internationally?  We know Lauren Jackson has been there for awhile.  Or is it still very America-centric right now?

When you look at this year’s Olympics, there were a number of WNBA players – and WNBA All-Stars – that participated on other teams…you had Lauren Jackson and Liz Cambage [of Australia].  I think there is a lot of talent out there in the world and a lot of people are paying attention to women’s basketball.

Do you think maybe it’s how women’s basketball is perceived overseas?

Women’s basketball is very popular overseas.  I think that it’s getting caught on here in the States.  But if you look at our NBA brothers, they support the WNBA so much.  It’s just more so women supporting the WNBA, and that’s the thing we’re really lacking, is having that support from our own.  I’m hoping that, as time goes on, the women start taking a liking to bringing their daughters out and seeing strong women role models participating in sports.

It helps when Michelle Obama brings her daughters.

Yes, it helps when the First Lady and the President of the United States are bringing their daughters, so I’m like, ‘If the First Lady and the President can come, where are YOU at?’ (laughs)

Now a fashion question.  If you could change anything about the uniforms, but still make them functional, would you?  Would you change anything?

I would.  I would.  I think that there are a lot of women in the league [and] people [who] are worried about… trying to make it too sexy.  I’m just like, ‘Make it fit me.’  You know, I want something that fits me that looks good.  Whenever I go to a football – an NFL – game, a basketball game, and I want to wear a jersey to represent my team, I’m wearing something that’s functional, I’m wearing something that fits and is feminine.  I mean, we are women and I think that the league could just maybe craft it a little bit more – not make it so much sexy but functional, and something we are comfortable with – I’m all for it.

What would you do, just out of curiosity?

What I would do is make the tops not feel boxy, but something that really fits as far as evening out the arms.  I hate the fact that my sports bra is showing.  That needs to be brought in.  I think that you can even, on the insides like right around here (motions to armpit areas near torso), you can take it in a little bit. It’s going to be different sizes for women.   And then the shorts.  I don’t need five inches in-between my crotch – excuse my French – for shorts.  Why is that?  There’s nothing there.  Give me some shorts that I can be able to wear, and run up and down the court, and not feel like I’m carrying extra material.

Audio Slideshow: Interview with Swin Cash – 2012 State of Style Summit

interview by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine
photos by Kwai Chan / Meniscus Magazine

Video: “Style and Strength” with Swin Cash, 2012 State of Style Summit

video by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine