Breaking the ‘Boys Club’: Sneaker Culture’s Journey to Inclusivity

Nike x TITLE: The future of female sneaker culture

Nike’s Role in Empowering Female Sneaker Enthusiasts:

Nike has been at the forefront of embracing change and catering to the desires of its female consumer base. Through initiatives like the women’s-only Air Max Jewel and Air Max Dia, as well as the introduction of Nike Unlaced, a curated destination for female sneaker lovers, Nike has demonstrated its commitment to fostering inclusivity. The brand has also enlisted influential women like Bella Hadid, Serena Williams, and Aleali May as campaign faces, further amplifying the voices of female sneaker enthusiasts.

The Evolution of Air Max:

A Glimpse into the Future of Female Sneaker Culture: During the 2020 Air Max Day, Nike unveiled its latest female-only silhouette, the Air Max Verona, alongside the Air Max 90, Air Max 90 Flyease, and the futuristic Air Max 2090. To shed light on the future of female sneaker culture and the development of Air Max, TITLE sat down with Nike’s global design team. Juliana Sagat, a footwear designer at Nike, emphasized the importance of finding a balance between attitude and style while catering to diverse tastes worldwide. The Air Max Verona, designed specifically for women, featured a chunkier sole, providing elevation and a unique two Air unit design.

Preserving Air Max’s Legacy while Embracing Innovation:

Dylan Raasch, Senior Creative Director at Nike and responsible for the iconic Air Max line, highlighted the need to remain true to Air Max’s expressive and fun nature while embracing innovation. Nike’s strength lies in its close connection to customers and the sneaker community, ensuring each generation has its own identity within the evolving culture.

Juliana explains what is especially important when it comes to adapting to current and different tastes of women worldwide: “The main thing is to find a balance between attitude and style. Also, the color is super important as it gives the first impression and it’s a good way to express yourself.” For the women’s sneaker (Air Max Verona), the focus of 2020 is a height element: “When we design an Air Max, the sole is usually more organic and for the first time we have something a little chunkier so that she can feel elevated and lifted by this chunky sole. It’s the first time we’re using the two Air unit just for her.”

The Influence of Streetwear Culture:

Streetwear culture plays a significant role in shaping the identity of Air Max and the sneaker community at large. London-based stylist and image director Leah Abbott emphasized the beauty of streetwear’s innovation and the ability to upcycle and personalize fashion. As the influence of streetwear culture grows, smaller and up-and-coming designers gain recognition alongside established household names, further diversifying the industry.

The Path Towards Genderless Sneaker Culture:

While progress has been made, there is a collective desire among creatives for sneaker culture to become truly genderless or unisex. Juliana Sagat expressed hope for a genderless design process in the coming years. London-based stylist Leah Abbott acknowledged the emergence of unisex wear in the city, with men and women sporting similar outfits and sneakers. Despite the ongoing journey, Nike’s future-oriented Air Max development signifies a refreshing shift towards inclusivity in a predominantly male-dominated sneaker culture.

Streetwear Culture

The Air Max identity is largely shaped by the streetwear community and its constant evolution. Leah Abbott is a London-based stylist and image director. She explains what’s so beautiful about streetwear: “Streetwear culture is all about being innovative and fresh. If you can upcycle something and you can rework it and make it your own, then that is not only looking after the planet, but it’s also bringing a new cool edge to street culture.” Also the influence of Streetwear culture is becoming more and more relevant: “If you look at Fashion Week, you’re certainly seeing much more representation on the runway and styles that are celebrated as beautiful and artistic. We’re also seeing a shift in smaller designers and up and coming designers being showcased for their innovative talent alongside the big household names.”

The Future is unisex

It seems that the development of female sneaker culture is going in a good direction. And yet in our conversations, we discovered a wish that is equally dear to all creatives. They are all waiting for sneaker culture to become truly genderless or unisex and for sneaker culture to create unification in a world of seperation. Juliana says: “I hope for the design process to become genderless in the next couple of years.” Leah Abbott adds that there is already much progress to be seen: “In London, you’ll see guys and girls literally in the same fits. You’ll see them in the same tracksuits, the same sneakers. There’s a lot of unisex wear going on, which is great.”

There’s still a long way to go, but Nike’s future-oriented Air Max development is refreshing to see and beside bright colors and new innovations, it also brings a fresh air of change to a male-dominated sneaker culture.

Sneaker culture is undergoing a transformative phase, breaking free from its ‘boys club’ image and embracing inclusivity. Nike’s unwavering commitment to empowering female sneaker enthusiasts has paved the way for change. By challenging stereotypes, introducing innovative designs, and supporting female-focused initiatives, Nike has become a catalyst for progress. While the path towards a genderless sneaker culture is ongoing, Nike’s dedication to evolution and embracing fresh perspectives brings hope for a more inclusive and unified future.