Women Moving Fashion Forward | International Women’s Day

“Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.” – International Women’s Day

The 8th March - International Women’s Day - is dedicated to celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It further highlights the need for taking action against gender inequality around the world.

The sneaker and footwear industry are among many others where women believe that they are not being equally represented. With limited sizes, drops, messaging from brands and a shortage of female creatives behind the scenes; many female sneakerheads feel almost invisible.

We’re using this platform to highlight some of the game changers, leaders and powerful voices paving the way for future females in the sneaker community. Read about a few of these ladies below: 

MELODY ESHANI

As one of the only women to own a store on Fairfax Avenue (the main streetwear hub of LA) and one of the only women to have secured a leadership position at a global athletic brand - Foot Locker (being their first ever female creative director) it goes without saying that this LA designer has really fixed her name on the global streetwear scene.

Eshani’s approach to fashion is different from most. Instead of focussing on a new look, she speaks about establishing a new voice. Early in her fashion career, she realised that she had the opportunity to use design as a vehicle for whatever she wanted to do. Through this, she performed an important role in paving the way for women in the industry and ultimately serving them with products and amplifying their voices.

Despite moving away from her initial career path which began in law, Ehsani’s work is still very much underpinned towards justice and equality.

Through high-profile design collaborations with Reebok and Nike, as well as her revival of the Air Jordan Women’s OG (the brand’s first ever women-focussed sneaker) Eshani has really become a driving force behind empowerment and equality for all individuals. She describes her feelings of growing up where she felt like Jordans created for women were always an afterthought.

Using her brand as a reflection of her personal journey, you will likely come across messages of spirituality and empowerment in her apparel, jewellery and footwear. Messages such as ‘fortune favours the bold’ and ‘evolve or dissolve’ are some of the powerful words that Eshani uses to do this.

Melody Ehsani

JAZERAI ALLEN-LORD

Streetwear designer, writer and public speaker. Jazerai Allen-Lord is a force in the sneaker industry. Named one of the top 18 Women Transforming Sneakers and Top 28 BIPOC Transforming the Industry; she has stayed true to her convictions in saying things exactly as they are.

Being a black woman, she believes that these ‘two strikes’ can be used to either make or break a person. Despite an endless list of challenges to face, she has decided to use every opportunity she has to build herself and empower the women around her.

It’s a Man’s World – Reebok Campaign

A campaign about inclusion and celebrating the women who have made their mark in various male-dominated industries. To this day, women still face discrimination and bias, often having to work twice as hard as their male counterparts. “It’s a Man’s World” is dedicated to changing preconceived ideas and redefining perspectives of women in the creative industries.

Allen-Lord’s shoe, was released with Reebok in 2019 and completely sold-out. It was later acquired for the Bata Footwear Museum’s archive of Black designers.

JAZERAI ALLEN-LORD

ALEALI MAY

An exclusive collaboration with Jordan made this lady one of only two women to ever design for Nike. Furthermore, she was the first woman to ever create a unisex Jordan and has worked as a stylist for the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Tinashe.

Aleali May entered the fashion industry when she started studying at Columbia College Chicago. At the age of 19, she started working part-time for Louis Vuitton. However, her authentic connection with Jordan’s have humble beginnings. She started collecting them in her early childhood years.  This is likely what kickstarted her collaboration with the brand for a series of ‘firsts’.

As a model, stylist and sneaker designer – she’s a fashion triple threat.

Aleali May

CHARLOTTE LEE

After just 6 years of working with New Balance, Charlotte Lee developed the instant-classic future-retro 327; a sneaker fusing heritage as well as modern elements, generating huge hype around the brand. 

Lee started working for the brand without owning a single pair of sneakers from their range. She believes that this gave her the advantage of unfamiliarity.

“I can’t come to a meeting and tell you every shoe that New Balance ever created, but I can come to a meeting with an idea that’s fresh, and then we can see what works with that in the archive and how it feels very New Balance in its aesthetic.”

Lee’s background also started through work experience in her early years. Growing up in the town where Clark’s shoes is from in the UK, she got the opportunity to do work experience there. At that point she still wasn’t sure how she would turn her creative background into a career. During this time, she met a designer who told her that she could specifically study footwear design at university, which is exactly what she did. Whilst studying, she got involved in as many internships as she could. At the end of her degree, she managed to land a year-long internship with New Balance… and the rest is history.

CHARLOTTE LEE

These are just a few of the courageous women who are working to transform the conversation in the industry by creating, developing and leading through a space which has been male-dominated for too long.

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