Imagine being born and raised in New York, the original sneaker mecca, where what you have on your feet has to be as sharp as your mind. Where the lines between performance and fashion are blurred and fresh kicks are a marker of notoriety and style. Where trends are made and inspiration is found.
Imagine being 16 years old with your first real job and wanting nothing more than to get your hands on the oh-so-fly new White Cement Jordan 4s that draw directly from the streets where you were raised. Then imagine being hit with this reality: not only can you not afford them, but they don’t even make them in your size.
Not only is this an example of the effect of the commodification of culture and the unequal power relationship between communities and corporations, it also shows what it’s like to be the perpetual black sheep. It’s easy to villainize appropriation, where no credit is given back to the source of inspiration, but what is to be said for the cases when you have to fight to be seen, heard and respected within your own culture? When your own culture that you love, that you’re truly passionate for, doesn't even recognize that you exist.
Culture is supposed to be reflective of the community it represents. It’s inclusive in nature because it’s created and cultivated by those who it represents, right? Not so much. When it comes to sneaker culture, from the outside, one would think it’s just another boy’s club run by guys for guys – but what about the women? What about the kids from the streets that helped create street culture?
Until recently, women who loved sneakers just as much as the guys would have to settle for dolled up versions that are victim to “shrink and pink,” hope for kids sizes in the latest releases or simply admire from the sidelines. This, however, has been changing. Thanks to women like Vashtie, Melody Ehsani, Solange and Rihanna, we’re seeing a sliver of the much needed representation of women in the industry. Despite living in a time where “diversity and inclusion” are the buzzwords in every industry, they are terms that are preached more than they are practiced.
It’s time to give credit where it’s due and celebrate the groups that are creating culture but getting no credit, and to motivate the youth to take control of their impact. Straight to Feet is here to disrupt what you think about mainstream sneaker culture. Curators, Brittany and Khiana of Incop[HER]ated, have developed Straight to Feet as an event rooted in empowerment, support, and idea sharing. Consisting of a student workshop and all female panel, Straight to Feet is an amalgamation of individuals sharing experiences and perspectives and working to shift the system, hosted in the neighborhood that is today's heart of the sneaker mecca — SoHo, New York.
It’s about recognizing the unrecognized and reshaping the existing narratives surrounding women in sneakers; it’s about amplifying the voices of women behind the scenes and the kids immersed in the culture. Straight to Feet empowers students by introducing them to the opportunities their passions carry and the power of their influence. It gives these impactful women, a space to have a discussion that goes beyond their experiences as women in male-dominated industry and delves into the nuances and direction of sneaker culture through a female lens.
Join Incorp[HER]ated at Straight to Feet on Saturday November 18th at 2pm to hear from the women shaping and driving the culture. RSVP at straighttofeet.splashthat.com. Any high schoolers interested in the student workshop, email incorpHERated@gmail.com.