How Two Female Sneaker Influencers Are Challenging the Male-Dominated Industry

Yaya Mazurkevich Nuñez and Jasmine Gonzalez have developed strong social media followings and powerful voices on their own. But the two believe they could better create meaningful change by joining forces.

Last month, the duo launched the InHerSoles Collective, a community that will live on social media and through themed events. The platform was designed to generate thoughtful conversation among women who are passionate about sneaker culture.

Here, Mazurkevich Nuñez and Gonzalez discuss the impact they hope InHerSoles will have on women and the industry’s most pressing issues.

What is InHerSoles?

Jasmine Gonzalez: “It’s a platform for women to be creative. You don’t have to be an influencer, you don’t have to be famous. If you want to meet like-minded women and be in a positive environment, then come to one of our meetups. And we’re teaching women that they could love a sneaker — even if there’s no hype around it — because it plays a role in our history.”

Yaya Mazurkevich Nuñez: “It will play in the digital space and have an in- real-life role. We’re in the beginning, just bringing women together. The intent is to create a safe space for women who love sneakers but also to give the proper attention on certain moments so we could make change within the industry. The beautiful part of the word ‘collective’ is that you can’t really define it. If we want to have a board, sure. If we want each city to have its own collective, then that’s what it is. We don’t want to ever seem inaccessible or exclusive.”

What are the issues InHerSoles plans to address?

YMN: “The basics are that the women who are [grade school sizing] get the [worst] colorways, the [worst] fabrics and materials. Also, representation — brand ambassadors don’t represent the people actually buying the shoes. And changing what’s available to us: size runs, colorways. Stop giving us pink sneakers, please, God.”

JG: “We’re also addressing body-positive issues. Big women don’t have sizing. [And] brands are exploiting women’s empowerment within the sneaker industry. You have panels to cover issues, but we know the issues. What are you doing to fix them?”

How are women viewed within the sneaker community?

YMN: “You’re one of two things: an overly sexualized figure with kicks on or a super high-end fashion chick. There’s never the normal person. You never get [someone like Jasmine] that wears cool Nike outfits from top to bottom or [me who] shows up in ripped shorts, a crop top and sneakers.”

JG: “Brands view women as consumers; they’re just pushing product to us. They don’t understand real sneaker collectors at all. They just look at the fashionistas, people with 1 million followers. Their own female brand ambassadors don’t match the product they’re putting out or their demographic. You have Rihanna doing Puma Fenty, but she [was] in Jordans every day. We have social media, we can see this.”

Why has it taken brands so long to figure out what women sneakerheads want?

JG: “Sneakers have always been male dominated. Companies have banked on [women buying grade-school] products, so why fix something that’s not broken? They’re still going to make their money because we’re not going to stop buying the sneakers. But we’ve made too much noise. There are too many panels, too many platforms. We’re addressing the brands dead on.”

How can women be catered to by brands properly?

YMN: “Ask questions, get on the ground and meet the people — don’t just ask the influencers. Brands need to stop looking at numbers and start getting to know their audience. They need to step away from the first phase of the digital era, which is a numbers- driven thing, and step into the second phase, which is finding the real people who make a big impact locally. The culture is no longer standing for the fake s**t and if brands are smart they’ll stop it.”

Who are the women making waves in sneakers?

YMN: “Denise Jones, she’s nonstop in the sneaker game; Isis Arias has been making waves for a long time; and Laura Styles has a sick collection and she creates spaces for women. She’s the perfect role model.”

JG: “I love singer Monica Brown and her ability to dress mature while still killing rare sneakers. [But] I am working on body positivity in the sneaker space and I want to see more curvy women in campaigns.”

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