The Rise of Women in the Streetwear & Sneaker World.
At the start of streetwear and sneakers culture, brands were inclined towards targeting the male audience. Over the years we’ve seen a drastic change in the culture. It went from being heavily male-dominated to adopting a gender-neutral strategy. Brands and sneaker labels have realized the potential female customers hold. However, the question of the hour is how did the transition take place, and are the female customers the new target audience?
To talk about this subject in detail, it’s important to understand the roots of both cultures. The streetwear culture has been evolving for decades. As we all know, It arose from communities like graffiti, Hip-hop, Skate - all of which have been male-dominated since the very beginning. This answers our biggest question as to why the culture was more focused on men. It is because of the subcultures that this fashion was associated with.
As surprising as it sounds, the community has consciously, though perhaps at times intentionally, created an environment that neglects women from entering the culture. For example, When supreme was founded, this too was a joint effort between Jebbia and Fusco. Needless to say, Fusco has rarely received any recognition for her contribution. It is time when brand owners and sneaker labels realize that presently, the movement is now more than ever subject to public scrutiny.
In recent times, we’ve seen a plethora of brands ( Based out of India and overseas ) coming in with new concepts and ways to promote women in streetwear. However, there’s still a lot of room to grow. It is important to dismantle the stereotypical assumptions/thoughts people have over how girls like more feminine clothing than a baggy, comfortable outfits. After all, T-shirts and hoodies, the main component of any streetwear label, are fundamentally unisex. Shoutout to Indian streetwear labels like Jaywalking, NoughtOne, SPACE BISKIT, Warping theories, and many more for breaking such boundaries and dropping one-of-a-kind apparel.
In a 2018 article HYPEBEAST said it the best, “To survive, streetwear must abandon sexism”.
Coming to sneakers, the problem is pretty much the same. Some of the most common issues that female sneakerheads face are lack of products, size runs, colorways, and designs. Although the situation is getting much better as brands are more aware of tapping female customers, earlier the sneaker culture was just not inclusive to women. It took years for brands to realize that the ‘shrink it and pink it’ concept is pretty sexist and vague.
“We want the story, or what looks good- not just something generic or overtly-girly,” says Married to the Mob founder Lead McSweeney in an interview with COMPLEX.
In my opinion, the following statement sums up the core problem faced by female sneaker enthusiasts. In recent years, we have seen people like Melody Ehsani (CD of Footlocker), Maya Moore (Basketball player), Cynthia lu (owner of cactus flea market), and many more doing a sick collaboration with Nike. Although Nike is the closest to getting it right by doing ‘only women’ drop with decent-looking sneakers and promoting women athletics, designers, brand owner in designing sneakers there’s still a long way to go.
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