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It’s not that women don’t participate en masse; it’s that participating is harder because brands have largely ignored them. The biggest pain point for women in sneaker culture is that the most coveted shoes often aren’t even made in their sizes.While all major brands have women’s sizes in certain Nike Air VaporMax Womens styles, many of the most popular classic styles and almost all buzzy, limited-edition collaborations come only in men’s sizes. (For example, Tyler, the Creator’s many GOLF le FLEUR* collaborations, the majority of Virgil Abloh’s Nike projects, most limited-edition Nike Jordans, almost all of Kanye West’s Yeezy styles, and dozens of others.) Women find themselves left Nike Air Huarache Mujer out of the major “drops” that hyped-up teen boys get to celebrate, or — as a patch solve — they wind Nike Air Presto Homme up buying Nike Air Max 2017 Homme the largest possible kid sizes in boys shoes, which are often made with cheaper materials.
Nike’s new women-oriented Unlaced project will tackle that problem by offering “unisex sizing on select classic Jordan styles,” expanding sizing for the wildly popular Nike Air Force 1 and Air Max lines, and breaking with its tradition of collaborating almost exclusively Adidas Superstar Femme with buzzy male designers by hiring two super-famous women — cult favorite British menswear designer Martine Rose and avant-garde Japanese jewelry designer Yoon — to create new ready-to-wear clothing lines and sneakers. It’s a start, but is it enough? And why so late?Progress on the woman’s sneaker front has come in dribs and drabs. Last summer, Nordstrom’s director of www.homoludens.frcreative projects, Olivia Kim, designed a limited-edition reimagining of the Nike Cortez, a classic Nike Air Vapormax Womens style introduced as the brand’s first track shoe in 1972. The other major contribution to women’s sneakers that season was almost laughable: a Nike and Swarovski line of ultra-feminine shoes coated in crystals. There’s not a single mention of them in the entire women’s streetwear subreddit. (One opinion, from me: They are hideous.)
In the lead-up to Unlaced, Nike also had a 1Nike Air Max 90 Femme Rose 4-woman design team work on a line of reimagined Air Force 1s and Air Jordan 1s, which came in styles called Explorer, Lover, Sage, Rebel, and Jester. They’re objectively cool. The company also made women’s sizes available for the hotly-anticipated The 10 line, designed by Kanye West’s creative director Virgil Abloh. Abloh then designed Serena Williams’s Queen line Nike Air VaporMax Femme for the brand, which debuted this summer. The attempts are getting markedly better.But this is not altruism; it’s just smart business that took way too long to figure out. It wasn’t really until 2014 — when Rihanna was named creative director of Puma and French luxury brand Céline sent a pair of Air Force 1–inspired sneakers down the runway — that Nike started sitting up and paying attention. To test the idea of a women’s sneaker shop, Nike had Nordstrom’s Olivia Kim curate a Adidas Superstar Womens small selection of women’s styles for Nordstrom in the fall of 2016.

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