The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 27 — A seat at the table

2020 finna be female for the sneaker industry

Good morning! Happy Monday! Hope you had a fantastic weekend. Welcome back to The Kicks You Wear! As always, thank you for giving me a little bit of your time this morning. I truly appreciate it.

Today’s shoutout goes to Harry and Meghan for ditching tradition and backing away from the royal family. Normally, I don’t care about stuff like this but this was pretty bad ass. Although, I don’t know if I’d ever willingly become financially dependent because, well, adulting sucks.

Anyway, let’s jump in.

The future of sneakers is female

(Photo by Kiana Bosman on Unsplash)

You can’t talk about the sneaker industry in 2019 without talking about how women fueled it.

Sneaker sales for women have been jumping over the moon for the last two years but that all really came to a head last year when Jordan Brand announced its first billion dollar quarter

  • That success was largely due to the brand tapping in to its female consumer base more than ever before. That revitalized the brand.

  • Jordan Brand just recognized what we all already knew. Women have been waiting for decades for the sneaker industry to acknowledge them through their products, but they just haven’t. When they finally did, they flourished. We covered that here.

  • They’re coming back to the well for more. They’re already launching a new women’s apparel collection at the top of February.

The best part about this success is, like every other big business industry, people copy success. In 2020, sneakers are going to be a lot more female. We’re already there.

This is all well and good. It’s great to see women given platforms and products in the industry. It’s great to see these dope collabs. Beyonce is dope. With all that said, there’s still another step to take.

Women don’t need to just be the consumer. To take their proper place in the industry, they also need to be the creators. The executives. The decision makers. They need to have real staying power here.

The progress we’ve made so far is OK. For example, Nike reported it increased VP-level representation of women by 4% to 36% globally in its FY18 impact report. Adidas has also said 33% of its employees in management positions are women.

  • Those numbers can be higher, though. Especially when, in Adidas’ case, 51% of its global employee base is women.

Their dollars will always be powerful, but we have decades of proof that that doesn’t guarantee recognition. The inroads we’ve made now will only last once we have women in more powerful positions, making decisions with female consumers in mind.

We’re not seeing that happen yet. At least not enough. It starts at the top. Just take a look at the executive boards of Nike and Adidas — the companies we just talked about making the most progress. They are mostly white and male.

It’s an exciting time in sneakers for women. We’re getting dope collabs, dope shoes and dope content with a female focus. But we’ve got to do more on the back end to make that last well into the new decade.

Hopefully, we see that change soon.

Custom sneakers are running the culture

(Photo by Glodi Miessi on Unsplash)

Custom kicks have always been dope. Whether it’s just been you drawing random doodle art on your shoes or if you get it sent away to a real artist who sends you back something sick. It’s always cool.

One of ones have never been more prominent. They’re more accessible than ever before for common folk who aren’t exactly into sneakers.

  • You can literally log on to Instagram and find different custom artists to work on your kicks. I follow a few. My faves are Quonito and Kickstradomis.

  • There’s also the Custom Movement — a marketplace where people create and sell custom their own custom joints. It’s the dopest shit ever.

Folks are literally making a living off of the custom game— think about The Shoe Surgeon or the folks at JBF customs.

This is a practice that stretches back for decades. Some of the biggest names in sneakers have been creating their own customs and selling them going back to the 80’s and 90’s. High Snobiety has more.

One of the first to do this was Bobbito Garcia. A cultural trailblazer of the ‘80s and ‘90s, Garcia painted different color swooshes on Bruce Kilgore’s iconic Air Force 1 and put them up for sale. Other pioneers included Methamphibian and SBTG who made names for themselves hand-painting Nike Dunks and re-selling them at a premium.

Part of the rise in mainstream popularity for customs and custom artists is the fact that custom sneakers have broken in through sports. We’re seeing custom kicks on the basketball court and on football fields.

Customs are really running the game right now. Think about your favorite shoes from over the last few years — the most popular joints. Virgil’s Ten collection, Sean Wotherspoon’s 97/1 mash up, the Sacai Waffle are all essentially custom flips on old kicks.

It works so well because of the time we live in. We love to customize everything from our television, to our music, to our every day experiences. Our world today is all about self expression and individuality through different mediums — sneakers count as one.

The Clippers’ Montrezl Harrell he made a really salient point about why the custom game means so much when we spoke last week for an interview.

“When I go into being able to customize my shoes I’m able to express myself even deeper,” he told me. “I’ve created so many connections with so many artists because of it.”

It’s all about self expression, connectivity and telling your individual story. I love to see it. I just wish it was a little bit cheaper. Customs are EXPENSIVE, fam.

Money doesn’t matter when it comes to your runners

(Photo by Atanas Dzhingarov on Unsplash)

You know how people tell you that the more you spend on a thing the better quality it probably is? Sometimes that’s true, most times it isn’t.

Turns out the same thing applies to your running shoes. If you’re spending more than $150 on a running shoe, you should probably rethink that decision. The science says can do better. Sarah Garone of Greatist has more.

Science aside, it turns out the average runner doesn’t report much improvement from pricey footwear, either. A market research study from October 2019 analyzed more than 320,000 consumers of 336 workout shoes and discovered, bizarrely, that the cheaper the shoe, the higher its ratings and user satisfaction.

The 10 most expensive running shoes surveyed, which ranged in price from $150 to $300, averaged a star rating of 82.7. By contrast, the 10 cheapest shoes, priced from $30 to $55, scored 2.3 percentage points higher, at an average of 84.6. Clearly, we’re not seeing a major return on investment from spendy footwear.

Those numbers, quite frankly, are stunning. It’s not hard to figure out that there isn’t much of a quality difference between most runners, but seeing that cheaper runners actually rate better than the more expensive ones isn’t something we’re ever sold on.

These were my takeaways.

  • Comfort is the thing that matters most when you’re looking for a runner — or, really, a shoe that performs any kind of function. Go to the store. Try it on. Look at different options.

  • Starting cheaper is an OK thing to do. Don’t let brands shame you into buying their more expensive product. Sometimes, the quality isn’t better.

  • Brand loyalty is bullshit. Always look to diversify — especially when looking at functionality.

You should read the entire piece from Greatist. It’s really good and goes into a lot of detail about runners. It’s definitely worth your time.


Fam, I’m so hype for these. Run DMC and Adidas are dropping a Superstar collab in April this year commemorating their 50th anniversary. They look AMAZING.

It’s the classic 80’s look. No laces, tongue out black and white with a dash of red. This shit is fire. This pair is a must cop for me.

There are also two other pairs coming out along with these. One is just an inverse colorway that looks like the classic superstar and the other might be a high-top version of these.

But y’all can have those. These black joints here? These are for me.

What’s droppin’, bruh

That’ll do it for today! Thank you, again, for reading and giving me a bit of your time today.

Y’all, we’re literally right there at the finish line on the road to 500. We just need a little bit more of a push before we hit. Let’s get there so one of y’all can get these kicks! Hopefully, by Friday, we cross the finish line! Don’t forget to drop me your submissions for #TheKicksWeWear.

Love y’all. As always, peace and love. Be easy. Be kind.

Signing off.

Sykes 💯