Rubber, mesh and suede live without the constraints of gender, so why is it when put together they become something entirely masculine or feminine? Can they not be both or better neither?
Sneakerhead, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary means “A sports shoe enthusiast”. Nowhere in its simple definition is there any mention or assumption of gender? The issue of gender runs deep within the sneaker industry, permeating its fragile framework and sadly perpetuated by a biased market dominated by male lead sneaker brands and consumer base.
Sizing & Redundancy of WMNS Releases
Women within the industry are forever left feeling like an afterthought, sometimes thrown a crudely put together release, often sporting uninspiring silhouettes, cliche colourways and a chronic overuse of platform soles. These sneakers leave many women feeling like their presence, although noted, isn’t respected in quite the same way as their male counterparts. But, it doesn’t have to be like this. Although the market may be smaller, the female consumer base is growing. Many women now turning to comfortable and casual footwear favouring practicality and functionality in their everyday outfits.
As the fashion industry blurs the lines of what is perceived as feminine and masculine, naturally we are seeing gender neutrality take over. As the industry moves forward the sneaker industry seems to sadly stay the same. Women don’t want another pink platform sneaker, they want to see the most coveted high-heat releases dropped in an inclusive size range without the inflated price point. We’ve seen it time and time again and frankly we are bored and tired. Two of the most anticipated collaborative sneakers of 2021 fell victim to this sizing siege with the Travis Scott x fragment design x Air Jordan 1 both high and low and the Off-White x Nike Dunk Low Dear Summer pack, starting at a measly size 6 for Europe. Infuriating so many women with this just exacerbated further when seeing a plethora of small footed celebs rocking the coveted releases. Stop sizing and pricing women out of the industry. Hopefully an opinion shared by men and women alike *cough Lucky Green AJ1 cough*.
“I’m never looking for WMNS releases. I’m just looking for my size.”
Chloe Sintim, KLEKT CRM Marketing Manager
Female Sneakerhead & Joys of being a Woman in the Industry
The phrase ‘Female Sneakerhead’ in itself, holds various negative connotations for many women in the industry. While yes it may be an easier way to address part of the industry as a collective, it, however, evokes a sense of separation between the men and women in the sneakersphere. This separation has played a major role in holding women back from taking up space at the table, having their opinions respected and listened to. There is however a time and a place for the phrase, but frankly it’s completely overused and connotes a certain amount of negativity, removing credibility from major players.
However, though many issues need addressing (many that deserve their own blog posts, stay tuned), there are perks to being a woman in the sneaker space. It comes with a level of creativity, individuality and expression that isn’t easily replicated by our male counterparts, naturally helped by the freedom and variety of clothing and styling options available. The breadth of unique styling is something to awe at, leaving many followers rushing out to recreate their favourite influencers looks. This is something here at KLEKT we want to showcase and shout about, growing our female audience through the creation of our KLEKT womens instagram account @klektwomens, influencer partnerships, collaborations, shouting about inclusive sizing curating edits to highlight this to our audience making this accessible to everyone and expanding our own team to include and showcase these voices from within.
“The female sneakerhead community are putting their stamp on online content. Creating visuals that are campaign worthy and messaging that is both informative and empowering.”
– Ameila Hobson, KLEKT Senior Partnerships & Social Executive
Not all is lost when it comes to gender representation within the sneaker industry, we are moving towards a more inclusive future, we are seeing women’s voices amplified and respected. Major brands are releasing more and more sell-out collaborations with female-led brands and figures, whilst yes, we still have plenty of work to do getting more women into those higher positions, overall we are seeing some progress. But I think there is one thing we can all agree on, the language of sneakers is universal.
Have we left you wanting more? (Stay Tuned!) Why not read our recent interview with the Sneakers By Women founder Julia Lebossè – READ NOW