What Needs to Change in Women’s Sneaker Releases?
Throughout 2022, we’ve seen more and more women’s size runs hit the shelves and online stores. While brands may think this is the answer to sneaker equality, as well as what the industry wants to see, a popular ongoing dialogue favours the viewpoint that women don’t want dedicated releases but wider size runs for all, among other things. So with this in mind, we decided to ask a number of key women in the industry – designers, collectors and more – what they want to see from women’s sneaker releases. Check out the answers below.
Julia Schoierer – Collector
To be honest, I do not see the necessity for a women’s line. It’s not like all the women’s models are still being produced with a slimmer last, so it really is just about the size run.
Why not extend the size runs instead?
Concerning women’s sneaker releases, I’d definitely like to see much fewer pastels and pink. Or at least pink that’s used in another context other than just being cute.
I am so tired of this stereotype the industry has of the female consumer. It’s time the industry changes its perception of females.
We have more goals than simply to look cute.
How about some female representatives and storytellers who stand for more than just their gender or fashion? If I could change anything, I’d like to see more women getting a seat at the table where decisions are being made about them and their representation.
I’d like to see females that do not fit the consumer and influencer stereotype because of, for example, disability, being older, being more muscular or not being into fashion or makeup and so on. We need more platforms to share different versions of femininity.
Mimi Plange – Fashion Designer and Collaborator
As a female in the sneakerspace, I’ve always been a little hesitant about this idea of women’s sneakers vs men’s sneakers because sneakers seem to be the most naturally unisex item there has ever been. Of course, when it comes to fit, I can definitely see a need to make a few adjustments based on proportions, but with women’s sneakers, I would love the shoe design to be the focus first. I’d like to see releases that are design-focused and not just centred around perceived feminine colourways or attributes.
I think sneakers are an energy you are designing into, and it’s hard for me to segregate the design of them into genders. I’d like to see sneakers as a unisex item that is only separated by fit as necessary. I’d like expectations and limitations to drop concerning what makes a women’s release vs. a man’s release. I would like to get to know more sneaker designers who are women and hear their stories in a way that speaks to or resonates with everyone. Ultimately, what I want to see, is just more women’s sneaker releases and more collaborations!
Bianca Derousse – Collector
Access. After years of asking for women’s-exclusives, we’ve finally gotten them, but with bots and resellers, it’s hard to get your hands on a pair. It’s great to see that some brands and local shops are aware and making an effort to give women first access to pairs, which so many of us appreciate.
It would be amazing to get back that feeling of an in-store experience. I would love to see more events curated around women’s sneaker releases. It just adds something special.
Stephanie Howard – Former Nike Design Director, Co-founder of Endstate
I think there is a place for women’s-specific designs as much as non-gendered designs. The key is to empower women’s confidence to stand out with their sneaker choices and wear these unique drops as statements of self-expression.
I feel like the fashion industry encourages women to buy the same on-trend design look each season in order to ‘fit in’ the fashion cycle, so I see a lot of women wearing the same style.
I’d like to see new releases aimed at individual style empowerment. This does exist to some extent with early adopters, but I’d like to see more women following their own inspiration to choose unique sneaker designs that express who they are.
Lori Jacobs – Former Nike ACG Designer
I get eager for more change when I see women being ‘given a chance’ to colour-up a men’s shoe model in ‘women’s colours – ’pinkifying’ a model or ‘sticking a bow on it’.
Product is still too gender-pigeonholed. It’s often dumbed down – made to have the look of technology but not the actual functionality. That is one of my biggest frustrations. The stigma that women are still objects to be looked at, rather than people who are up to lots of actual activities, still seems prevalent.
(I was told in an interview for a famous high-end women’s brand, ‘You know, our product just has to look good. It does not need to work!’ I did not take the job.)
Women in the sneaker world, I have to say on a positive note, are making noise, supporting each other and squeezing through the barriers whether invited or not. Women are badass, and there are so many walls coming down – gender fluidity is opening up a more evolved way of seeing beyond limited perceptions.
For more IWD-related content, check out the best women’s sneakers of 2023 (so far).