If there’s one trend that’s reigned supreme over the last few seasons, it’s athleisure—we’re talking sneakers, track pants, hoodies, and everything in between. Looking for new ways to test out the look? That’s where athleisure enthusiast Anaa Saber comes in. In her new column, the fashion girl behind @oursecondskin will offer up her best styling tricks for those of you looking to inject this cool trend into your everyday lives.
As streetwear and sneaker culture become more pervasive, very few women are rightfully recognized for their monumental efforts and contributions toward building the culture. It’s time to openly have conversations about the topic in order to make the streetwear industry inclusive and give credit where it is due.
A couple of months ago, I was fortunate enough to speak on the panel “Street Wear: A Women’s World,” during The Drop at Barneys. Ever since then, this issue has been churning in my head. Is the streetwear industry truly inclusive? Are men and women borrowing from each other without credit? How can women keep pushing forward? Is the brotherhood in streetwear holding women back from truly participating?
During our panel discussion, Jeff Carvalho, Tracey Mills, Emily Oberg, Jackie Kim, and I started off by acknowledging the fact that the industry is male-dominated, and active efforts need to be made to make it more welcoming for women. One key problem that may hinder a lot of women interested in streetwear is the lack of prominent female figures to look up to in the industry. Masculinity has been so deeply ingrained into street culture, with majority of public figures being male, like athletes and rappers. While on the contrary, women in these same roles haven’t been broadcasted to the same extent, aside from a select few.
Another issue in streetwear is the prevalence of male-centric brands and the lack of women’s brands to fill this gaping hole in the market. As Leah McSweeny once said, “Men are the New Women”; it’s important to recognize that men, especially the way they approach fashion, the way they dress, their look, a lot of this stems from the women’s fashion scene permeating to the men’s market. So what is causing the lack of women designers in streetwear?
While brands such as Off-White, Heron Preston, and KITH do have women’s lines, these too were created by male designers. Where are all the female streetwear designers? Other than a handful of labels like MISBHV and Rihanna’s Fenty, there aren’t many well-known female-designed brands in the limelight. It’s time to start supporting and promoting more female streetwear designers who are breaking the glass ceiling.
One community marketplace for menswear, Grailed, launched the female version of its selling platform, Heroine, which has now given women the same kind of community as men to sell goods instead of having to dig through men’s closets. Bustle digital group just launched the first female-focused digital sneaker show, Blaze, which is dedicated to all the female sneakerheads and tastemakers redefining sneaker culture. It’s a storytelling platform for women, with unique and interesting perspectives on sneaker and streetwear. While this is just the beginning, the fact is these simply DIDN’T exist until now, which is unbelievable.
Efforts don’t end there. While talking about women in streetwear, we must mention Aleali May and recognize all her efforts especially with a groundbreaking collaboration with Nike, the second women to design an Air Jordan after Vashtie. Queue applauds. Shortly after, Jordan released its first-ever, long-overdue collection of apparel and sneakers for women, Season of Her, tailored specifically for women’s taste and preference.
While these efforts continue, it is important to go one step further and recruit more female designers and creatives. Men also need to recognize this issue by not only bringing more women onto their teams but also by letting them voice their opinions. For instance, Nike took a historic step and released the reimagined 1s collection, appointing 14 all-female designers to join forces and execute creative vision together, rethinking the silhouette through the lens of women. Creativity fueled by positive environments and inclusive projects will encourage more women to become involved.
Designer Heron Preston recently stated on his Instagram: “Streetwear has always ignored the voice of females. It’s always been a very male heavy category. A boys’ club. This is the year of the woman!” and I couldn’t agree more. Here’s to all the efforts women have contributed and will continue to contribute to street culture. This year is about to be a year full of success, but in order to keep moving forward, both men and women need to encourage progress and work together.