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Shaping Culture: Sole Finess’ Murata PJs talks the future of the sneaker 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.

Sitting down to chat to the founder of female-focused sneaker store Sole Finess was such a special experience for me.

In fact, Murata PJs is so damn cool, I don’t even think she realises how cool she is.  She is one of those people that keeps a little quiet but when she has something to say, it’s so well thought out and comes from such a genuine, intelligent place I carefully try to take every word in.

The Sole Finess Instagram is my weak spot, as it’s pretty much my dream Pinterest board of all the sneakers I want in my life! It also features the new Air Max Verona, the latest women’s-focused Air Max silo, following Nike Air Max Thea and Nike Air Max Dia, all created by women, for women.

KLP: Take me back to before you had your store. Before you even had that as an idea. What was the thing that happened that made you go, ‘I should create this space that’s female-focused with female sneakers’?

MP: I guess that I’ve always had a love for sneakers. I ended up working in the footwear industry for the past 10 or 15 years. And pretty much the whole time that I was working within the industry, I found it difficult to find shoes for myself – sneakers that I liked, mainly due to sizing. 

Also, I think, with the experience that I had from working in all of those places, I thought I could use that to do something and create something. And so I started the Sole Finess Instagram in about 2015, just to test the waters and see what the market was like. 

KLP: Were you just posting shoes that you liked? 

MP: Yeah, it was a moodboard of what I wanted to create.

KLP: You were just projecting it out there, this needs to exist.

MP: I was also writing the business briefing documents for the brands while I was doing this, because I wanted to pitch it to them eventually. But yeah, after the Instagram was up for about six months, the conclusion was what I thought it would be, which is that there were a lot of other women in Australia who were struggling to get sneakers in their sizes as well. That’s how it came to start. 

KLP: So how did you go from that idea and that moodboard to then finding a space, getting the stock… I mean, did you have any experience running a store?

No, not so much running a store but I did have a lot of experience I guess, working with the brands that we stock. So I could use that to my advantage, to be able to pitch the idea to the brands and get them on board. One by one they all said, ‘Yes, we’re wanting to help you create this space’. It was pretty unheard of at the time, because it started off being online only. A lot of brands don’t want to just give you product for an online-only store. And it was women’s-specific sneakers too, so it hadn’t been done before. They somehow had faith in what I was doing. 

KLP: And it works! How do you define sneaker culture?

MP: I think with sneaker culture, it has evolved a lot over the time that it’s been around. It has been defined by the people who started sneaker culture from the beginning, who may not have moved with the times so much. And they think that they know what women want. But in fact, who better to know what a woman would want than a woman? 

It’s definitely changed so much more in the recent years as well, with more women collaborations, and products, and things like that.

KLP: If you take it back to what women would want when they’re looking for sneakers, I love the idea that you created this moodboard. And knowing that I could walk into a space that’s curated by a female for females, is such a unique experience. Do you think that that’s helping females feel like they’re in an inclusive community with sneaker culture?

MP: I mean, it feels good. When I first started Sole Finess, I always wanted it to be more than a sneaker store, I wanted to create a bit of a community for like-minded women, where we could share our love for sneakers but also elevate each other to do more as well. 

I’ve met so many amazing, beautiful, talented, creative women along the way, and we’re all trying to navigate our own path. Meeting them and creating this community – it feels like a natural and wholesome way to do this through a love of sneakers. And it’s a really good feeling to have a platform where we could do that. 

KLP: Have people ever hit you up on social media and explained that you’re having an impact on their life because they’re seeing these shoes that are, you know, now in their size!

MP: Yeah, absolutely. I think with a lot of the special releases that we’ve been getting, a lot of women haven’t been able to get them at all. So they definitely do show their appreciation and that’s great. That’s what the whole purpose of the store is, is to make sneakers more accessible for women. 

KLP: Yeah that’s so cool. And I guess it’s creating that space where everyone can feel welcome, it’s really inclusive. And through the Internet, you now have the power of that space being both for the people that walk in the store, but then everyone that sees things online internationally. 

MP: Yeah absolutely. I guess with Instagram, it’s been such a great way to be able to reach women who love sneakers or have been passionate about sneaker culture. And now have a space where they can connect with other women. Like, they help each other get releases for one other, which is a really cool thing.

KLP: So you’ve created a business with the sole purpose of changing up the sneaker game. Why is that so important to you?

MP: I think that the general lack of equality is an ongoing battle in most aspects of society. And it’s just not acceptable. And it being, you know, 2020, I don’t think we should really have to be defining what we wear by our gender anymore. I think we all deserve to have the space in the sneaker world if we want to. And I just want to help fight for that equality.

KLP: So why is sportswear and sneaker culture important to you?

MP: For me, I think sneakers have a kind of a nostalgia and timeless aspect to them. With the Air Max 90, I remember when I was younger and that came out, and being in awe of the technology and innovation that was behind it all. Even now when I see it, it still makes me feel those feelings. I think, regardless of what the shoe is or what the brand is, other people feel like that as well. Sneaker culture just evokes a really strong connection for people, and I think it’s just something special. 

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

nike.com/au

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