The sneaker industry hasn’t always been inclusive of women, but it’s heading in the right direction. All hail the sneaker and women who rock them!
Have you heard the saying, “It’s a man’s world?” When it comes to the streetwear and footwear industry, it really is. Unfortunately, women have had to take a backseat to the athletic sportswear industry for quite some time now and have also kept pretty low-key about it. Now, we are starting to witness a male-dominating platform being shifted and shaped into women’s wardrobes. To know the infinite destiny of streetwear culture, we have to look at the industry as a whole—both where it once was and where it is headed.
For example, Jordan brand only has two current female endorsements: Maya Moore and April Holmes. And yet, neither of them have a momentous shoe line. Sheryl Swoopes, who is possibly one of the greatest women’s athletes in history, was the first female to get a signature sneaker with Nike. In the late 1990’s, Cynthia Cooper and Chamique Holdsclaw followed suit. Because Swoopes appealed to men and women, there was much confusion why the momentum of female domination quickly ended.
Sheryl Swoopes Explains Why Her Signature Sneaker Needs a Retro. Photo via Nike
Brands like Nike and adidas have tried to expand their reach to the female consumer over the past recent years. But the question arises: Are they really investing the most or are they just testing the waters? Don’t get me wrong, I realize that women’s-only Jordans have not performed well on the shelves in the past. For example, the Air Jordan Retro 5 “Shy Pink” and the Air Jordan 2 “Vashtie Kola Lavendar” sat and got marked down in retail stores. But now, the “Vashtie 2” is a hard exclusive and rare to find. I think to truly trust the process, you have to take all the risk. When it comes to marketing towards women in streetwear, the rewards are waiting.
In the early 2000’s, women’s streetwear brands were not easy to come by. Some of the standard ones were Married to the Mob, Stussy, Hellz Bellz, ect. Very few boutiques and retail stores carried these brands. Also, there was not a high demand of menswear created by women. Back then it wasn’t a trend. As for footwear, there were limited sizing for major releases and retros. “The footwear that was produced for women was of mediocre designs, most likely by men, with no storytelling and inspiration.” Pinks, purples, and sparkles were the main design aspects on women’s footwear. Women had to shop in the boys’ section for clothing and sneakers, causing a high demand for more women’s sizes. Vashtie Kola broke the mold with her Air Jordan 2 collaboration, making her the first female ever to get her own Jordan sneaker design. She was the stepping stone of a new era for women’s streetwear fashion.photo via upscale hype.com
Today, streetwear fashion has made a huge impact on women and the game is now changing. Nike and Jordan Brand are taking exceptional interest in female artists and athletes. They have started creating women’s only styles of footwear, campaigns and designs. Aleali May has been killing it in the streetwear fashion and sneaker world, being the second female to collaborate with Jordan brand. Her perseverance and attitude towards the industry makes her successful. She is a pioneer in the fashion industry—period. Her influence, and the influence of others like her, have spread a viral passion for the intersection of men’s fashion into women’s fashion. This year’s New York Fashion Week had a large variety of women designer’s showing men’s collections. To make things more inclusive in this industry, gender neutral designer Andre Landeros Michel showed a genderless/agender/unisex clothing line entitled STRANGE. His line was that was extremely inspiring.
I think there is a lot in store for women’s streetwear fashion and sneaker culture in the next coming years. There will be more creative collaborations with influencers, musicians, and artists. With the extensive investments brands are putting into the female market, there is no telling how far we can push the fashion forward trends and how much money there is to be made. I have very high hopes and expectations for the future of women in this male dominant industry.