Evolving from a culture of hip hop music, graphitti art, djing, break dancing and skating, the sneaker game is steadily making its way into mainstream culture, bringing along with it dynamic style and comfort! Typically a subculture dominated by men, women are stepping up–and stepping out–with their own sneaker game. But let’s be clear: this is not a trend, this is a movement! Women sneaker fiends are not just about looking cute in the latest styles. They have a true love and desire for the sneaker game. So what is a sneaker fiend exactly? According to Lori Lobenstine, creator of the ultimate website for female sneaker heads, femalesneakerfiend.com, “a sneaker fiend is anyone obsessed with their sneakers. It doesn’t matter if it’s all about one brand or matching them to your outfit, scrubbing them clean when they get dirty (or all of the above!). If you spend way too much time thinking about your sneakers, you’re a sneaker fiend!” Sneaker enthusiasts bask in the purchasing, collecting, acquiring exclusives, trading, discussing and worshiping of their sneakers. But, it’s more than aesthetics. It’s about your first favorite pair of kicks that you rocked all summer, or the sneakers you wore to your first ball game. It’s the feeling you get after saving nickel and dime just to be able to walk out of the store with the newest and hottest pair of sneakers. It’s the way heads turn to look and admire.
“allows us to step into different aspects of the game: moving up and getting recognition as collectors, customizers, store owners, sneaker designers, promoters, etc.”
While their male counterparts have it easier with accessibility to size, women face the challenge of finding these same styles and colors in their size. Mainstream retail stores often equate women with pink, leaving them with limited options. The few and fortunate who have tiny feet are able to fit into boy sizes, while others, opt to wear a men’s sneaker one size too large just to don their favorite kicks. It’s the sacrifice of a true sneaker lover, but this is not to be confused with complacency. Women sneaker fiends are using every outlet to voice their needs and concerns.
With the launch of websites like femalesneakerfiend.com and nikewomen.com, the internet has allowed a forum for female sneaker fanatics to be seen on a larger scale. According to Lori, this “allows us to step into different aspects of the game: moving up and getting recognition as collectors, customizers, store owners, sneaker designers, promoters, etc.” Lori has also started an online petition in an effort to push sneaker companies to come out with smaller sizes in their new sneakers lines.
Women in the entertainment and sports industry such as Missy Elliot and Sheryl Swoopes also continue to inspire women through collaborations with sneaker lines such as Adidas, Pumas and Nike. And if the designer bug is in you, Nike ID and Puma’s Mongolian Shoe BBQ allows sneaker lovers to custom design their own sneakers.
This season, sneakers create their own story line by showcasing bold colors, crazy patterns, different fabrics, leather and crocodile skin, fat and skinny laces making them more interesting for the consumer. According to Lori the hottest sneakers this season for women are the Adidas Forum Mids, and some of the 25th anniversary Reebok Freestyles. If you’re looking for amazing color ways, New Balance delivers. And even smaller companies such as Pointer Footwear and Undercrown, are stepping up their sneaker game for women. We can’t forget the classics too! Dunks, by Nike are huge, Jordans, Uptowns and Air Force 1’s never disappoint.
Liberating ourselves from balancing acts, swollen ankles and aching backs, women are retiring their three inch heels to the backs of closets and stepping out in the comfort and bold fashion of designer sneakers. Through the determination of female sneaker fiends we can all look forward to being fashionably fierce in a pair of kicks made in our size, just for us!
Summer Hamilton-Smith is a contributing writer to Clutch Magazine.