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Shaping Culture: Kath Ebbs signals the future of a more inclusive industry

VIDEO AND STILLS BY YEAHSURE.CO
WORDS BY KLP

Meet the changemakers.

This Air Max season, Nike Sportswear champions inclusivity in the ever-evolving sneaker culture. Nike has tapped singer-songwriter KLP for an interview series amplifying the voices of female changemakers who are shaping the future of sneaker culture. The following interview and words are written by KLP. 

There are some people that you come across in life that you watch and think, ‘What are they going to do next?’. They could turn their hand to anything and probably absolutely nail it. Kath Ebbs is one of those people.

I was first introduced to her via email through my Nike fam, and was told we would get along because we share so many similar interests and passions. She sprinkles such a light onto everything she does – be it fitness, or her smoothie shack, or her fashion style.

She is open to sharing her story with the world and her network is organic, natural and fun. To top it all off she’s just genuinely lovely.

To celebrate the new Air Max Verona, Nike’s latest women’s-focused silhouette,  I sat down with Kath for her take on the future of sneaker culture, and how she strives for inclusivity across the broader fashion industry.

KLP: Through social media, you have so many people that follow you and take inspiration from you. Do you feel a responsibility to be really genuine and open with them?

KE: Yes, I definitely feel a responsibility, but I’m happy with that responsibility.

I think it’s a balance. It’s being able to understand what you stand for, what your values are, and the things you want to communicate positively to your audience, but then also finding the boundaries within that. Because otherwise, you end up not filling your own cup. 

KLP: One thing that you’re always so natural with is your sense of style. Everything you wear, and the way you wear it, is really genuine. And today we’re wearing the Air Max Verona which is created by women, for women. How important do you think it is to express yourself through your fashion and what you wear? 

KE: I think for me, personally, fashion is a creative expression and the extension of how I’m able to present myself to the world. So, I think it’s pretty important for me and I kind of encourage that for other people. Because even if we look at trends, trends are great but at the same time, when people are just following trends, it also leaves room for comparison.

Everyone is different, and everyone’s personalities and bodies and everything is different about them. So if you take one piece of clothing, or one trend, and put it on everyone, it kind of leaves room for this comparison. When you’re dressing for yourself – and it’s a reflection of who you are and what makes you feel good and feel comfortable in your skin – then it eliminates that, because it’s for you.

KLP: Do you think you try and purposely break the rules of trends?

KE: I don’t think I purposely do. But I sort of get this thing where, if I see something – like a piece of clothing that maybe isn’t conventionally what people wear – and I want to wear it, I have that thought of, like, ‘Oh no’. But then I’ll go, ‘Screw it’ because of that. 

I think it’s definitely something that comes naturally. I never dress on purpose to break away, it’s always what I want to wear. But I make sure that I’m not limited because I’m scared of being too bold. Do you know what I mean?

KLP: Yeah totally. I guess sneaker culture is traditionally a male-dominated kind of world. How important do you think it is that more females feel included and able to express themselves through sportswear and sneaker culture?

KE: I think it’s everything. If we talk about any space – I can’t wait for the day when there’s no such thing as a male-dominated space and female-dominated space. It’s just a space. We all wear clothes, we all wear shoes, whether you’re male, female, non-binary, you know what I mean? There’s no such thing as a male-dominated space in my mind. So, I think it’s really important that there are more females and non-binary people that are accepted into this space, to make it just ‘a space’. And I think that is important in every space. 

KLP: Well that’s the definition of inclusivity.

KE: Exactly. Equality and inclusivity is not rocket science, but it seems to be this big thing that we’re trying to get to. I hope through things like what we’re doing today, and the few shifts that we are seeing in the media, that we can eventually get to the point where we don’t even have to have this conversation, because it’s not a thing. 

KLP: What do you think it means to people to feel included in those spaces? I mean, have you always felt welcome and included in fashion and sneaker culture?

KE: I would say relatively. But I think it’s also because of the way I’ve been raised, and the way that I just allow myself to be. 

Representation is the most important. If someone is not able to access a space, then they are not being represented. And if we go back to what I was saying before – if you go into a clothing store, it’s about being able to have everyone represented and feel comfortable in that space.

If we look at media and advertising, I want to see every culture, race, body type, sexuality be represented. Because then equality won’t be such a ‘rocket science’ thing, because it’s what younger generations are seeing so regularly. No one feels excluded, and no one feels confused in their own skin, because they’re being represented. It’s really hard to be what you can’t see.

KLP: So, last question. Why is sportswear and sneaker culture so important to you?

KE: For me personally, it’s sort of shaped the way that I’m able to dress. With my fashion sense – and even me, as an individual – I’m really gender non-conforming as a person, and the way I decide to dress. I feel that the whole movement of sportswear and sneaker culture is really exciting and was exciting for me as it started coming about, because it allowed me the space to be able to dress how I wanted to inside. 

Shop the Air Max Verona here and read others in our Shaping Culture series here

nike.com/au

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