If you’re a gal who loves her kicks, then you’re probably all too familiar with the struggle that is sneaker shopping. Y’know, you enter the sneaker store full of hopes and dreams, only to find the women’s section is non-existent. To add insult to injury, the men’s section is usually thriving, filled with shoes that just don’t come in your shoe size.
It isn’t unfair to say the sneaker industry is male-dominated. While women do have more options when it comes to shoes as a whole, it seems females are completely underrepresented when it comes to sneakers.
Despite women making waves in this industry recently - Rihanna as creative director of PUMA, Rita Ora for Adidas – it is interesting to examine whether this change has trickled down to the everyday female consumer. Has the sneaker-loving girl experienced a change in the culture of her favourite industry? Or has the increase of women working with traditionally ‘athletic’ brands merely sparked a conversation, rather than solved it.
Few people better understand what it means to be a woman in a man’s sneaker world better than Murata PJs, owner of women’s online premium sneaker boutique, Sole Finess.
Murata’s sneaker passion began when she was a basketball-playing child:
“I can recall summers spent in Nike basketball boots. I think they were some kind of black and white Barkleys. They were everything.”
She recognised an issue within sneaker culture early, feeling as if women’s sneakers just didn’t seem like a priority to brands.
“You could walk into any sports or sneaker retailer and the women’s section would always be over shadowed by men’s and kids’ styles. It seemed crazy, seeing as women make up the majority of the population. But sneakers were always created with a male focus.”
With this in mind, Murata created her online empire.
Sole Finess exists as a women’s online premium sneaker boutique, doing justice to all the ladies out there who love their kicks. As well as selling footwear, the creative platform also spotlights local and international female artists, illustrators and designers, to empower and elevate women the world over.
“I found that getting sneakers that you wanted was never easy. Currently there’s a lot of cross over in gender-neutral silhouettes and colourways yet it’s still not being steered towards women and smaller sizes, so getting what we want in our size is still difficult. “
As well as the sizing issue, there is also a problem with accessibility. Women in Europe, America and Asia have easier access to releases, with a greater demand for products in store and online. Murata, however, doesn’t see this as being an issue for Australian women for much longer, due to the constant growth in popularity of sneakers.
“The brands have a much better understanding of what women actually want in the market. Accessibility to the correct product means we can create a place for ourselves in sneaker culture and I think that’s a part of why it’s taken so long to get the recognition.”
The future for the industry feels pretty bright, especially with websites like Sole Finess popping up. Collaborative platforms like this encourage and empower like-minded women to share information and ideas, allowing conversations like sexism in the sneaker industry to exist on a global scale.
There has never been more awareness in the women’s sneaker community than there is today.