I was sheepishly pointed towards the tiniest table in the darkest corner of the store, and told that it was the women’s and kid’s section. The women s selection consisted practically totally of Nike Air Max Theas and Air Max 90s in differing colorways of black, grey, blue, purple, and pink. On an objective for some brand-new everyday kicks my Theas had actually taken a hammering I wasn’t interested. That’s ok, I believed, other stores will have a much better option.
Nope. We checked out stores in Austin, Houston, New Orleans as well as Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and I started out each time. There were plenty of men s sneakers that I liked the look of, but when you’re a woman who wears a women’s U.S. 8 and the tiniest size stocked is a males U.S. 9, you can just window store. (I confess to longingly stroking numerous pairs, knowing we might never be together.).
The shops that did bring women s sneakers suffered from the same concerns as our very first stop in Austin mostly outdated designs, and typically womanly colorways in pinks, blues and purples. I’ll never ever forget the blank look of bewilderment on the assistants face in one specific store when I inquired about the women’s area. At the same time, my boyfriend was like Augustus Gloop at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, grabbing armfuls of kicks to try on in each store and coming home with a solid number of sets from his in your dreams sneaker list.
Initially, I believed this might be because of where we were traveling. In the South, individuals have the tendency to dress nicely and tidily along clear gender lines. Androgynous design doesn’t seem to be a thing. When we went to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, we came across a bunch of groups on campus trips. I noted that the women wore floaty summertime blouses, denim shorts or jeans of differing lengths and strappy sandals. All the guys used almost widely khakis, polos and your grandpa’s old brown shoes from Brooks Brothers. Kids dressed exactly like their moms and dads. It seemed like Stepford.
After getting back and doing some research study, however, it appears my experience wasn’t unique to the South. The lack of an amazing choice of women s sneakers in-store seems to face women who like kicks everywhere, whether they’re in New Orleans, New Zealand or Paris. This issue can be neatly summed up by one single design the Nike Dunk Sky-Hi tennis shoe boot.
I like tennis shoes because they permit me to reveal my design in a manner that doesn’t need me to painfully harness my feet into sky-high shoes, which are frequently fashioned from unforgiving materials. The textural and color possibilities supplied by progressively ambitious sneaker designs are much more interesting to me than a high-heeled boot made from leather and more leather.
The Sky-Hi gets rid of most of the exciting aspects of tennis shoes, being primarily offered in neutral, monotone colorways, and integrates them with the most frustrating element of women’s shoes that damn heel. To me, the Sky-Hi is a well-intentioned misconception of what women want from sneakers. It states, oh hey, you’re a lady? You like sneakers? Here, has a tennis shoe with a high heel, so you can woman while your sneaker!
I’m not saying that streetwear in basic doesn’t cater for anything other than generally womanly style in New Zealand, for instance, women like me who prefer subtle, androgynous styling are far much better off than we would be anywhere I checked out in the United States, even the liberal island of Austin. We have a terrific option of labels in shops such as Good as Gold, which carries an outstanding option of streetwear in a range of designs, with far more pants than they have dresses or skirts. Local labels like Five Each and Huffer have excellent collections of low-key basics that would pair perfectly with sneakers in a flourishing colorway.
The problem is, when it comes to the women s sneakers brought by these otherwise exceptional shops, the relative gender-neutrality of the clothing available isn’t equated through to their tennis shoe stock. Click into the women’s sneakers section of a store like Loaded, commonly considered as New Zealand’s premier sneaker store, and it’s a blur of neutral blacks, grays and whites, with splashes of the standard feminine combination pastel blues, pinks and purples. Given that neutral is on-trend for men and women today, it’s a dull option.
It looks like tennis shoe stores hesitate our tiny female brains will blow up if confronted with a lot of brilliant and shocking colorways, and a lot of choices Loaded stocks four times as lots of guys designs as it does women’s, and the women’s shoes consist of a few pairs of wedge heels.
The highest tiers of the streetwear/sneaker scene are essentially a boy’s club, and any women involved in the location know that all too well. Believe about it: how numerous women collectors can you call? How many women’s signature lines?
When all the heavy-hitters in the scene are men, naturally sneaker culture is going to be related to by mainstream shops as being by guys, for men. This goes some method to explaining the difference in the choice of men’s and women’s tennis shoes in shops, and why I left every store unfortunately empty-handed.
On the flip side, the women looking out for their fellow girls when it pertains to tennis shoes are doing a fantastic job of flying the flag. Little Feet Big Kicks, developed by East London based Jessica Gavigan, aka Juice Gee, has grown steadily since its launch in 2011. Following a Twitter campaign in 2013, PUP London, by Emily Hodgson and Emilie Riis, developed from a wish-list website that re-imagined guy’s sneakers as women s designs to a fully-fledged label.
PUP dropped its very first unique capsule featuring initial apparel and a set of begins May this year. French/English site Sneakers Madame is another reputable online store with a devoted following. That stated, there is still a long way to go, with the UK s initially women-only brick-and-mortar sneaker store, Pam Pam, opening only last year in London. The appetite for a more comprehensive option of women’s tennis shoes still has to make the transition from online to in-store.
Males and female’s clothes, for the many part, needs to be structurally various to cater for the various body features of conventional genders boobs, butts, hips, etc. However, at our actual most affordable level our feet gender lines ought to be unimportant when it pertains to kicks. To me, the constant gendering of sneakers is as ridiculous as these stupid-ass Bic pens for women. Much like writing, we normally all walk and balance the same method (efficiency shoes excepted, I’m talking casual sneakers here). Many people have 10 toes, and most people’s feet run from toe to heel, with some sort of arch in the middle. Consider that for a second, and ask yourself if there is any prominent reason that tennis shoes developed for males must not be available to women.
Hodgson and Riis of PUP acknowledge that women’s tennis shoes have actually developed to include colorways beyond the pink/purple/blue holy trinity, but it’s clear that women’s kicks have a long way to go to catch up with where males are, constantly pushing the frontiers of design and commonly available to the critical purchaser. The streetwear scene has the potential to erode gender constructs in fashion. While women are obliged to select in between the high-heeled Nikes, the purple Adidas and the pink Reeboks, we will continue to languish in the limbo in between a men s 8 and the biggest kids size offered.