Originally, this post was written 3 years ago advocating for men to buy women’s sneakers. But as we are in Women’s History Month, I thought it was a little more appropriate to more so talk about giving women in the culture (and, women’s sneakers) their flowers while I have the platform to do so, and to educate those that may not know women’s impact on sneakers.
The “shrink and pink” era is done. Long gone are the days of some cute little pastel-colored sneaker in a tiny size in the corner display of your local Foot Locker. Women are getting dope sneakers more and more by the season. Women are designing dope sneakers more and more by the season. And if you think otherwise, you’re sorely mistaken, and sorely misinformed. Many common models have exclusive designs and colorways for women. That’s nothing new. Many men go for these colorways if they can get their size equivalent in them. I absolutely have a number of women’s sneakers in my size and I absolutely love them. Sometimes more than the colorways meant for men. When a women’s sneaker can get you so hype that you either didn’t realize it was a women’s sneaker, or you don’t care that it’s a women’s sneaker, you know it’s fire. And that’s the point: women’s sneakers have been amazing, and the women behind these sneakers are also amazing, and it’s due time we all gave them their props.
Women have been involved in the culture and the industry forever and a day. Nike’s former VP was a woman who was calling shots for 25 years. (She also helped her son run one of the biggest resell ventures to date, but that’s another story.) And unless you stopped being a sneakerhead about 5 years ago, there’s a very good chance some of the hot “men’s” sneakers you have in your collection were designed by women. The recent Pharrell Superstars were designed by a woman. Adidas’ collaboration with Beyonce’s Ivy Park sells out instantly, in women’s and unisex sizing. Those Sacai‘s we all covet? That’s from the mind of Chitose Abe. Serena Williams has arguably some of the most sought-after Off-White collabs that very few people will ever have. Melody Ehsani just took on a powerful role at Foot Locker as a Creative Director. Not to mention her Jordans were one of the best collabs to come out that year. Aleali May also has a number of hard-to-find collabs under her belt with Jordan Brand. Naomi Osaka made her foray with her CDG Nike Blazer, and I’m certain we’ll see more from her in the future. Since we’re talking about Commes Des Garcons, every shoe Rei Kawakubo has done with Nike has high resell value. Rihanna and Puma had a wave of sneakers from 2015-2018, lest we forget. Anna Wintour has literally one of the best Air Jordan III‘s to date. And last but definitely not least, one of my favorites (and crushes), Yoon Ahn and Ambush has been a staple Nike collab partner for years, now. And her Dunks have been some of the best we’ve seen since the resurgence of the Nike Dunks.
I think flowers are in order for all these women, and those were just women that designed sneakers that I know of. Props are in order for all the women we may not know behind the scenes of the industry, paving the way for more women at the table, and also helping design and create sneakers that come to know and love, men’s, women’s, or otherwise. But it doesn’t stop at just women directly in the industry. We also have to give credit to women just being involved in the culture in general, in any aspect. Channing at Chicks N’ Kicks has been giving women in the culture a voice, a spotlight, and a plug for a very long time. And if I’m being completely honest, after attending a joint sneaker drive/party she put together with Centre and a non-profit, she inspired me to make Clean Your Shoes an actual blog, rather than just a pet programming project (CYSTech) aimed to help me get a job after graduation. She doesn’t know that, but she did. Missa of Leaves X Laces has been connecting the plant parent and sneakerhead communties for the last year, and putting a spotlight on people that do both. The Shoe Sloot isn’t just a pretty face wearing sneakers, she’s actually about culture in many facets, and probably has more sought-after pairs than you ever will. The women (and man) of she.lace have long brought attention to women and their impact and mark on the Canadian sneaker culture, and have always been outspoken on the disparity of what’s been available for men versus women in the culture and industry.
So let’s give women their credit. Sneakers aren’t just a men’s world. It never has been. Women have been in the culture, and they’re going to stay in the culture. They’re designing, creating, collaborating, reselling, and content creating just as much as men. They’ve long earned a seat at the table, and it’s high time we gave it to them.