No longer waiting for permission from the industry’s gatekeepers, Black women are creating and claiming their space within the sneaker community. And we love to see it!
While the sneaker space has historically been a male-focused and centered industry, let’s be clear black women have always been present in the culture. With a foundation being set by the likes of rap legends Missy Elliot and MC Lyte, who were rocking, endorsing, and supporting Nike, Adidas, and K-Swiss at a time when wearing sneakers was viewed as dressing like the boys. Because of these women, we are able to see dope collaborations with music legends and fashion icons like Beyonce’s Ivy Park x Adidas, Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma, and Cardi B x Reebok.
If we’re talking influence and foundation, we can’t forget early icons of the WNBA, Sheryl Swoopes and Maya Moore, who tipped the scales for women in basketball and their relationship with sneakers. These women and so many more set the tone for footwear brand’s return to relevance in women’s sports.
With the rise of social media influence, we’ve seen women come into the light and start tipping the scales with representation, design, and influence. In celebration of Women’s History Month, it’s only right we recognize some women contributing to the takeover.
Ushering in a New Generation:
Breaking the mold and ushering in a new generation is breakout tennis star Naomi Osaka. Osaka signed a deal with Nike in 2019 and has been heavily featured with sneaker releases, global brand campaigns, and clothing capsule collections. With every Nike release, Osaka’s lesson for the new generation remains the same, don’t shy away from the things that set you apart because staying true to yourself is the most powerful thing you can do.
Source: Storm Reid/ @newbalance
In October, New Balance announced actress, producer, and self-proclaimed sneakerhead Storm Reid as the latest ambassador. She headlines the brand’s We Got Now campaign, encouraging the new generation to go after what they want. The footwear brand is known for its simplistic gray and white; however, this campaign ushers in a new era with bold colorways and designs.
First in their Class:
What barriers? These women may be the first in their class, but they certainly aren’t the last. In 2010, Vashtie Kola was the first woman to have a sneaker collaboration with the Jordan brand. The lavender Air Jordan 2’s shifted the paradigm in the sneaker industry and is viewed as the launching pad for many of the collaborations that have placed women as the face of Air Jordan.
WNBA point guard Natasha Cloud became the first woman to sign an endorsement deal with Converse in nearly a decade after the relaunching of the brand’s basketball division. In 2020 Cloud was set to be announced as the face of Converse women’s basketball; however, she asked that the brand postpone the announcement of their collaboration in efforts to use her platform to shine a light on something more important, the ongoing fight for social justice.
Curating SneakHER Space:
Social Media has given women in the sneaker community an opportunity to bloom. Instagram has served as a breeding ground for some of the industry’s best stylists, designers, and creatives to gain the recognition they deserve. It’s the community for us! The communities women have built in the digital space leave no room for doubt; women are in the sneaker space and deserve a seat at the table!
Tierra Leeper is a digital content creator and sneaker influencer with a sneaker wall anybody would swoon over. Tee doesn’t shy away from kicks with bold, bright colorways, and we love that for her!
Jess Lawrence has been killing the game as a social media editor and content creator. Her IG page is one big fashion look book that inspires people to think outside the box because the possibilities are endless when it comes to merging sneakers with your personal style.
A message for all women in the sneaker community: keep breathing life into the sneaker space with your passion and style; you are opening doors, ushering in a new generation, and curating the spaces we deserve. This is only the beginning.
- Brittany Brown