“There is always a moment where you can pinpoint a subculture’s entrance into popular culture — when something ceases to be a niche and joins the greater consciousness of the public (SB Pigeon Dunk, 2020).” For “sneakerheads” that moment occurred on February 22, 2005, the official release date of Nike’s SB Dunk NYC Pigeon edition.
The original silhouette of the Nike Dunk shoe was designed for college basketball programs in the U.S in 1985. In 2002 Nike officially launched Nike SB (SkateBoard) brand to the world and released the first Nike SB Dunk Low model. By 2005 they had tweaked the original SB Low shoe model to create the perfect skate shoe and Nike was able to convert the once hesitant skateboard community into a substantial skateboard following (SB Pigeon Dunk, 2020). Nike was now considered a core skateboarding brand and what would come next would live in infamy.
In celebration of Nike Dunk’s twentieth birthday, Nike SB released the White City Dunk Series featuring four designs inspired by cities considered sneaker epicenters: London, Paris, Tokyo, and NYC. Artists were enlisted to create individual city designs. To represent New York, they contacted Jeff Ng, known in the design world as Jeff Staple, founder of creative agency Staple Design. Nike asked Staple to create a design to represent his home of New York City on this piece of footwear. He was given a blank skate to come up with what he felt best represented New York. He chose the ultimate unofficial symbol of the city: the pigeon. The pigeon was an ode to the city’s hustle and the gritty survivalists who made their presence felt against all odds. The Pigeon Dunk Low was officially born.
If you could even call it a campaign, Nike’s marketing strategy for the White 2 City Dunk Series was exceptionally simple. Nike planned to quietly release 150 pairs to five New York City streetwear shops (30 pairs each) by sending the “experimental” shoes unannounced, and unrequested. Staple himself was the only one who knew they were coming – his Reed Space on the Lower East Side was set to be one of the five locations. With no advertising or marketing of the shoes from Nike, Staple posted a “drop date” on Staple Design’s website, with the actual date obscured by pigeon droppings. This information narrowed down the shoes’ available date to February twenty-something.
Unbeknownst to most New Yorkers in 2005, there was a burgeoning subculture of people who collected and traded sneakers. This phenomenon began as brands began to view athletes as style icons and supply them with covetable shoes. In NYC in the 1970s these target athletes were the best street ballers (Forbes, 2014). This subculture came to be known as “sneakerheads” and is defined as someone anywhere in their early teens to mid 50’s and who has made collecting and admiring sneakers their hobby. Sneakerheads are highly knowledgeable about the shoes, the companies that make them, and the people who wear them. This deep knowledge is something that sets them apart from just your average sneaker consumer (LaRoche, 2020). Sneakerheads today can be any age and gender, but in 2005 in NYC were largely young and male.
Based on the small website hint, lines of these young sneaker fans gathered outside Staple’s Reed shop on the 20th of February, pitching tents and sleeping bags, not knowing if they would be waiting a day or nite in hopes of getting their hands on a pair. On February 22nd, 2005, the actual drop date for the sneakers, the line had stretched to over 100 people which caused the cops to arrive. They tried to break up the line but the scene quickly turned violent as kids refused to leave. The cops began arresting people and called in the SWAT team for backup. By then, kids had pulled out machetes and baseball bats hoping to hold their place in line. Staple finally opened the door and 30 lucky customers purchased their shoes for a retail price of $150 dollars. Customers were escorted out the back of the shop and into waiting taxi cabs to avoid the violent crowd out front. The following day, the front page of the New York Post read “Sneaker Frenzy: Hot Shoe Sparks Ruckus,” and the story graced many news channels. By that night some of the shoes were selling for over $1000 on eBay, considered an unheard of up-charge. That day the world learned about sneaker hype, the second-hand market, and the realization of a culture built on sneakers.
Not all the NYC shops experienced the same frenzy. The Reed Space was the one store that buyers were positive would have them. In fact, the four other stores that received shipments weren’t sure what they were. Unlike today, stores weren’t known to order experimental products and Nike would send their experimental products unannounced to what they considered to be cool shops. It was rumored that one of the five stores that received the Dunk Low Pigeon, Supreme, gave all their pairs away to friends and employees. The pandemonium surrounded only Staple’s Lower East Side storefront – that force of pandemonium would come to be known in sneaker culture as “the hype.” To this day, hype is a common goal of marketing campaigns, especially those targeted at young, influential consumer segments.
This minimalist, consumer, and hype-driven campaign that largely lacked formal strategy, market research, budgeting, allocation, and forecasting but ended in historic success became a template for new marketing techniques considered staples in streetwear marketing today. The Pigeon is not only a pillar of sneakerhead culture and its expansion, it fundamentally changed the way companies deal with high-profile sneaker releases (Albertini, 2020). We can point to this campaign as an early influencer of the “hypebeast” phenomenon, organic street marketing, teaser campaigns, artist co-branding partnerships, and the role of scarcity.
2005 was a completely different marketing age. Social media didn’t exist in the way it does today; Niketalk, still in its Web 1.0 incarnation, was one of the few places to talk sneakers. The idea of buying a shoe for four-figures on the resale market was unheard of (SB Pigeon Dunk, 2020). Analyzing the success of this campaign spawned the development of a new market demographic: the sneakerhead was named and a new type of super-consumer emerged: “hypebeasts.” Hypebeast (or Hype Beast) can be defined as a person who follows a trend to be cool or in style. A person who wears clothing, sneakers, and accessories that are hyped up in order to impress others (Anwar, 2015). For the first time in history, the sneakerheads and hypebeasts could be visualized, identified, indexed, and learned from.
This campaign was an early example of what we now call organic street marketing or organic outdoor marketing. Fans took to web forums and message boards, they created hype by selectively sharing knowledge that allowed them and their fellow sneaker aficionados access to the NYC Pigeon drop. Their intel and network were so good that fans knew even before Staple when he was going to receive his shipment of Pigeons. As Staple’s team opened the shipment box, fans were already calling in about when they would be up for sale. The secrecy surrounding the Pigeon essentially gave birth to what we now call a ‘teaser campaign.’ Known as an effective way to build buzz before the launch, the idea is to release small snippets of content over time, stirring up just enough intrigue so your audience keeps coming back for more (Brenner, 2018).
This release was also the beginning of the collaboration or co-branded partnership with artists rather than athletes. Partnering with a designer hadn’t been done before and it was an unexpected link-up that had an interesting effect on supply and demand. Marketers learned an important lesson from this shoe release about how product scarcity is a tool that can be utilized to create hype and increase product retail cost. This caused sneaker brands to re-evaluate their selling strategies (Moran, 2017). After the Pigeon, retailers began to place orders for experimental, limited releases to capitalize on scarcity and leverage sales. This allowed them to take control of when, where, and how they sold experimental product lines.
Product scarcity also proved to be a good substitute for paid marketing (when a dependable fan base, such as sneakerheads, was involved). If there were enough organic hype and interest, user-generated content and organic social media sharing became the defacto advertising content. This same hype also created a secondary retail hype that catered to streetwear obsessives. Throughout the last decade alone we saw the emergence of resale markets such as StockX, Goat, Flight Club, and Grailed, all platforms that specialize in authenticating and selling sneakers and other goods for the buyers who lust after them. Originally, the Nike SB Pigeon sold at a wholesale cost of $32 dollars and retailed for $150. They currently sell for over US $42,000 (Sneakers, 2020) proving that the effects of hype and scarcity can be lasting drivers of collectibles’ value. “The secondary market is … legitimately creating heat because what it’s doing is it’s really providing a demand measure for the brand.” For example, if a sneaker is selling for less than retail in the secondary market soon after release, it could be a sign the brand released too many into the market, and demand for the sneaker was flat (Green, 2020).
Aside from the resale market, the sneaker industry alone is projected to be a $6 billion business globally by the end of 2025, according to a recent analysis from Cowen & Co. The growth is mainly in Europe, North America, and China, where sneaker culture has flourished and demand for rare sneakers has driven prices up exponentially (Green, 2020).
By the end of the next 10-year forecast or 2028, the sneaker segment of the footwear industry is expected to top $100 billion in the US and exceed $250 billion globally. Footwear is here to stay, and the only question we have to answer is one of style (Gaille, 2018).
Albertini, S. (2020, February 25). Best Nike SB Dunks. Retrieved April 23, 2020, from https://www.grailed.com/drycleanonly/best-nike-sb
Anwar, M. (2015, July 14). All Your Questions About Hypebeasts, Answered. Retrieved April 25, 2020, from https://www.bustle.com/articles/97047-what-is-a- hypebeast-5-important-aspects-of-the-hypebeast-lifestyle
Block, J. (2018, February 24). Jeff Staple’s Oral History of the 2005 Nike SB “Pigeon” Riot In NYC. Retrieved April 23, 2020, from https://medium.com/ @jblock49_6777/jeff-staples-oral-history-of-the-2005-nike-sb-pigeons-riot-in- nyc-446f518a7fe3
Fowler, D. (2018, February 5). The hype machine: Streetwear and the business of scarcity. Retrieved April 23, 2020, from https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/ 20180205-the-hype-machine-streetwear-and-the-business-of-scarcity
Gaille, B. (2019, January 30). 31 Sneaker Industry Statistics and Trends. Retrieved April 24, 2020, from https://brandongaille.com/31-sneaker-industry-statistics-and- trends/
Green, D. (2019, August 2). Sneaker makers like Nike and Adidas are facing a dilemma as resale is on its way to becoming a $6 billion business. Retrieved April 24, 2020, from https://www.businessinsider.com/nike-adidas-role-sneaker-resale- market-2019-8
LaRoche, L. (2019, May 29). Sneakerheads reveal savage truth of the sneaker industry. Retrieved April 24, 2020, from https://www.finance101.com/ sneakerheads-savage-truth-neaker-industry/
Moran, G. (2017, September 15). The secrets of Supreme success. Retrieved April 23, 2020, from https://www.drapersonline.com/retail/the-secrets-of-supreme-
Nike Skateboarding. (2020, April 22). Retrieved April 23, 2020, from https:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nike_Skateboarding
Ofiaza, R. (2018, August 24). Jeff Staple Talks About the 2005 Nike SB “Pigeon” Riot. Retrieved April 23, 2020, from https://www.highsnobiety.com/p/jeff-staple- nike-sb-dunk-pigeon-riot-interview/
SB Pigeon Dunk. (n.d.). Retrieved April 23, 2020, from https://www.nike.com/us/ en_us/e/cities/nyc/sb-pigeon-dunk
Sneakers, Streetwear, Trading Cards, Handbags, Watches. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2020, from https://stockx.com/nike-dunk-sb-low-staple-nyc- pigeoncountry=US¤cyCode&size=10.5
Staple Design. (2019, October 10). Retrieved April 23, 2020, from https:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staple_Design
2020 has been a disaster. The global pandemic turned the routine of regular life on its head. Lockdowns we mandatory for the majority of countries around the world and were still not out of the woods. Spending months indoors was challenging especially living in a larger city and a small apartment with no outdoor space of my own. I’ve grown accustomed to small spaces that require a different kind of design understanding; multifunctional/multi-purpose furniture, organization, with time and patience, usually do the trick, however… My exercise routine has been in studios, gyms, or good old mother nature. Of course, I had exercise equipment that was on hand for the inspired yoga class pass session but the pandemic put me in my place (my apartment) with nowhere to escape. As my workout routine has slowly adjusted in a transition from in-person boutique classes to logging in online for classes. Some requiring equipment here and there, one thing became abundantly clear. A lot of exercise equipment is ugly. It belongs in a gym and nowhere else, and begging to be stored, hidden, out of sight, out of mind when not in use. Small apartments don’t provide the square footage to have a designated workout space so we make it work. Once I vocalized my disapproval I began looking for equipment whose design could eliminate the problem altogether. After hours of internet scouring, I have compiled a list of small space worthy workout equipment that didn’t have to be put away right after a workout. Virtual meeting attendees wouldn’t think of it more as art. In addition to the equipment here you can find more products on my Pinterest site here: HOME GYM
These past few months have been scary. There are so many things to focus on globally but as individuals, we need to make sure that we are healthy and taking care of our needs. That means exercise. Your home was never intended to accommodate all of our needs, but we will make do and move forward. Their products allow feeling good in my space rather than intrusive ultimately making exercising a little bit easier and more enjoyable. They might even work in your space too.
1. TRX Home 2
6. Peleton Bike
Peloton has taken home workouts to a new level. After launching the company saw astounding growth and has now expanded additional streaming workout options. The price tag is steep but you rarely hear negative feedback about the product or the company overall. Their basic bike offers a convenient and immersive indoor cycling experience, streaming daily live classes from a studio in NYC to your home. An additional monthly fee is needed to access the studio cycling classes 24 hours seven days a week. Peloton offers an all-access membership studio experience for Bikes or Treads and includes a Peloton App with this multi-user Membership for $39.00 per month.
Retail $ 2,245.00 (price includes delivery and assembly)
The multifunctional wall bar is made for your full-body workout. Pull-Ups, Knee Lifts, Dips, and Crunches are just a few training options possible. The Maxwell Nature is made of light oiled durable beech wood and hand-polished stainless steel or brass. Made in Germany.
Retail currently unavailable
8. Treadly 2
Thin. Smart. Connected. The incredibly thin Treadly 2 is now smarter and more durable than ever before, featuring an innovative display, handrail speed control, Bluetooth speakers, and enhanced structure. We redesigned the entire treadmill from the ground up. A New Immersive Experience From the re-designed workout control modes to the ultra-lightweight frame, the Treadly 2 is a step above the rest. Equipped with a smart-control handrail system, it easily allows you to switch between multiple control modes. Standing only 3.7” tall The Treadly 2 is the ideal height to be stored underneath a couch, office desk, or bed.
Retail Treadly Basic $ 749.00 (on sale) and the Treadly 2 Pro $ 849.00 (on sale)
9. Tria Trainer
This 3 in 1 sit-up bench footprint is relatively small and is available in multiple wood finishes. The model pictured here is Ashwood and hand-oiled and black faux leather-covered seat. Made in Germany this under the umbrella company NOHrD that also offers other equipment using the same ecological design. What I love about this piece of equipment is that is doesn’t scream ‘I belong in a gym’ and doesn’t feel out of place in a small apartment (even doubling for seating). Shipping could be a pain is currently offered in France with several verified resellers.
Retail $ 464.35
ISPA: Improvise, Scavenge, Protect, Adapt – a design innovation philosophy launched by Nike in 2018. Nikes broad design initiative of exploitation, Nike Design Exploration collection (NdE) plays an integral role in Nike Inc’s design process. Using athlete data, paired with technology, innovation, and design informs creation and reconception.
ISPA is driven by the need to problem-solve that are capable of tackling the unique and shifting challenges in today’s human-made environment. Experimentation has engineered groundbreaking product solutions in adaptive footwear and apparel that prioritizes performance and utility.
Nike ISPA Fall/Holiday 2020 collection, highlights NIKE, Inc. innovations in environmental sustainability and the latest material technology science for the urban city dweller. ISPA live portal (www.ispa.live) was led by Nike ISPA footwear designers Darryl Matthews, Shamees Aden, and ISPA apparel designer Nur Abbas who shed light around the ISPA design philosophy and the Fall/Holiday product line made its debut. The live event was recorded and can be accessed at the same host site: www.ispa.live. In addition, you can download the Nike ISPA digital zine download and digital collage assets featured below.
Dior’s latest release is yet another continuation of the ongoing collaborations with Shawn Stussy. In line with Diors Fall 2020 men’s collection signature graphic collage has been streamlined into the brands first ever surfboard, ‘The Gun’. Paying homage in a celebration of the designer roots as a surfer paired with his artistic design direction in a limited edition release. The graphics used on the board were the latest backdrop in Dior’s Fall 2020 editorial campaign shot by fashion photographer Steven Meisel.
Limited to just 100 editions, each board is handcrafted at the UWL surfboard workshops in France and takes 72 hours of work.
Dior artistic director Kim Jones explained the collaboration’s origins. “Shawn Stussy is one of my great heroes. He started out as a surfer, making his own boards and painted his name on them. It was quite natural for me to ask him to work together on the very first Dior surfboard.”
Currently, there is no news on the release date for the surfboards.
Another win for nanamica‘s THE NORTH FACE PURPLE LABEL’s Fall/Winter 2019 collection “Purple Wind”. The seasonal lookbook is strong featuring oversized stylized layering, with their reinvention of adventurewear silhouettes renditions. The collection conveys a laid back presence focused on comfort without compromising style. As with every collection, you’ll find throwback silhouettes paying homage to The North Face’s heritage in the Denali jacket, Sierre parka, and retro Yosemite-branded pullover. Added accessories round out another versatile collection that will hit nanamica’s web store and Japanese shops several months from now. Shortly after the collection will be delivered in limited drops state-side at Brooklyn’s The North Face Prototype store.
Introducing ASCC Cycling, also known as ADER SSENSE is a collective comprised of like-minded cyclist whose collective believe that performance clothing functionality shouldn’t compromise its style. Club members cycle experiences range from first timers to pros and they invite any level of rider and every fashion style under the sun. The main club objective is to have a good time together and are willing to mix up their personal cycling style. The featured collection resulted from a collaboration between ADER error and SSENSE. Each piece in the collection can be used uniquely as layering pieces to allow riders to showcase their personal style sense. The entire collection comfort level was the utmost of importance and available for purchase exclusively at SSENSE. is designed with the intention of uniting those with enthusiasm for sporting excellence. Join the club!
Photography: Thomas McCarty | Photography Assistant: Melissa Gamache | Styling: Kiara Sayer | Hair and Makeup: Laurie Deraps / Teamm Management | Models: Serguelen / Folio, Eloi / Another Species | Production: Jezebel Leblanc-Thouin | Production Assistant: Ian Kelly
It’s the final countdown (t-minus nine hours) until the Adidas Originals x Alexander Wang season 5 collab drops. At 10:00 am EDT the 19 piece unisex collection of apparel and footwear is your fir the purchasing. Described as club leisure, (where one can sculpt a ‘Wangbody’) successfully engineered a new genera within the world of fitness.
The style takeaway is reminiscent a late 80’s/ early 90’s workout, where muscle-beach is united through athletics. It’s the ‘club leisure life’ where the dress code inspiration us represented through silhouetted shape along with bold, bring, throwback graphics bold, bright graphics. Every piece in the collection is designed to take you from the gym to the dance floor.
The clothing’s graphics are a throwback, as well. The silhouettes intention is to establish a feeling of freedom, without sacrificing underlying athletic principal (a pro-flex if you will).
The editorial composition can be credited too Wang through his electing to cast professional dancers as the talent, included Dakota Moore, Noami Janumala, Avi McClish and Olivia Burgess. The final editorial campaign represented this newly created club leisure identity thanks to choreographer Tanisha Scott. Photographed by Johnny Dufort and styled by Haley Wollens. I would have never expected that clubbing would one day become a sport and share a dress code that was appropriate for late night dancing downtown and the next morning when sweating it out (one tequila, two tequila) at the gym.
Kitted by Cairn is a new box subscription service (think StichFix or Trunk Club) but for outdoor gear and apparel. Whether you’re new to the outdoors or an adventure guru, embarking on a new outdoor adventure sport can be overwhelming. Starting a new sport comes with an unavoidable learning curve which isn’t just about learning the sport itself but the gear and equipment that comes along with it. After researching, there’s often a good deal of trial and error in attempting to find the right gear and apparel that will work for you. You’re looking at a good chunk of time, money, and effort before you even decide if this sport is something you really love.
Kitted goal is to be a painless solution to starting a new outdoor adventure sport. They attempt to achieve this through personalization, access to expert advice from pros, and a selection of best in class products.
Here’s how it works:
- Create a personalized profile that will take into account the activities you currently participate in, your build, level of experience, and budget range.
- A Gear Guru will source the best available gear and apparel that fits your needs.
- A kit is assembled and shipped to your door.
- You have two weeks to try out the products (consider the great outdoors your dressing room), decide what to keep, and ship everything else back.
- You’re only charged only for what you keep.
In addition to Carin solving our outdoor adventure conundrums they considered what will happens to old gear once it’s replaced. Carin offers to send your pre-loved equipment and gear to the Gear Up, Give Back program.
This winter there is a new style icon on the slopes that everyone has been talking about. The brand Matek Clothing made their appearance this 2019 season and launched their first collection of base layers intimates that are redefining technical sport style on the slopes. Founder Abigail Stern brand developed as a solution to the ski markets lack of affordable, functional, and stylized ski gear.
This seasons collection consists of five basic silhouettes including leggings, long johns, body suit, and two sports bras all under $150. Fabrics are the backbone to these style basics. The sweat wicking, odor-protecting, and quick-drying materials, some which are made from recycled nylon! Sustainability seems to be a commonality in other parts of Matek’s design process seen in their palm tree nut buttons, water-soluble hang tags, and the keepsake pouch provided with each order.
Matek’s importance on base layers makes a lot of sense when you consider that when on the mountain they will be the first things you put on in the morning and the last things you take off après-après. Matek refers to pieces as intimates because they happen to be the closest thing to your skin.
We don’t just love the collection but Matek’s unique style identity. This brand is going to go places, and fast. And although the first day of spring has come and gone the slopes remain open for the spring ski season so take a look at their collection for your last couple runs.
We cant wait to see what Matek brings to the slopes next season!
Sportmax Spring 2019 campaign via Fashion Gone Rogue article original post from March 8th 2019. This collection features a great color pallet and use of technical fabrics paired with feminine silhouettes. A perfect balance of fashion and sport. Model Sasha Pivovarova shot by Jamie Hawkesworth.
See Fashion Gone Rogue Feature HERE.
If you have ever searched for a fashionable sports image for whatever reason you might have noticed that the there are two very different types of images to choose from. One option being fashion focused images where the sports element is a reach. The images are sometimes overtly sexy and not relatable usually found on the pages of a fashion magazine. The other option being sports specific images, usually ads from sportswear companies showing an athlete working out with limited emphasis on fashion and style. These are two distinct perspectives that seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum; one is how the sports world presents a stylish athlete (athletic brands focus on performance and functionality) and the second is what fashion world thinks of athletic fashion (fashion representing style and design). Let’s take a second to summarize what each side offers:
FASHION COMPANIES – Often features fashion models that are not athletic in that they are very skinny and don’t look like they workout (a constant struggle inside the fashion world), or celebrities who are not relatable outside the fashion industry. Models often wear visible makeup with the addition of jewelry and and accessories. Models sometimes lack the skill or ability to play the sport, dribbling a basketball above their chest or shooting with two hands. Equipment and apparel featured is not really functional.
SPORTS/FITNESS BRANDS – Often featuring real life athletes or fitness specific models. Talent often shown in the act of competition, playing the game, or in the midst of a workout. Clothes and/or gear speak to the sport itself but often neglect style/design elements, rather than focus on functionality and performance.
We’re obviously describing these two to their extreme to emphasize each at their polar opposite.
Take a peek at our Heel-Side Pinterest board: EVERY MODEL ATHLETE as evidence of how fashion-focused or fitness-focused an image is.
This is a constant push/pull in the balance of two dominate and deeply opinionated cultures. If you think about who is producing the images it makes a little more sense. Fashion magazines do a sports editorial. It’s possible that no one on the creative team plays that particular sport. The concern doesn’t lie in the authenticity of the model holding a football incorrectly or that the athletic details aren’t relatable to athletes. Then we have sports brands. The creative teams and production of ads are targeted specifically for athletes so authenticity and the representation of a “real athlete” is their primary objective. The style and fashion element isn’t the primary goal here and it often is limited to performance limitations.
But what about everything in-between? Not high fashion but we don’t have a cross-fit fetish either? Well, the good news is that we may not have anything to fill the gap yet but there is progress and exceptions to the rule. We are seeing more and more athletic brands pushing their style limitations and fashion brands that are concentrating more on functionality and athletic authenticity. We are in the midst of witnessing a collision between these two industries and coming to terms with the notion that fashion and style are not only wanted but expected from both sides. As women we deserve that right to express our individual types of style without sacrificing performance and functionality of the apparel and equipment. We expect the latest technology and design innovations that doesn’t sacrifice style and fashion. We want to play hard and we will look good doing it. This movement can be attributed to the adoption of athlesure and a rise in street sportswear popularity, which will further expand the variety and representations of fashion/style/sports. As the relationship between fashion and sportswear continues to evolve we will eventually have access to a multitude of sports and fashion iterations and variations that will span the sport and fashion spectrum. Having the ability to speak to all types and experience levels of athletes and their personal style identity should be a common goal for both fashion and fitness.
When we come across a great article here at Heel-Side we feel the need to share the wealth. A perfect example from HYPEBAE, ‘3 Female Pro Skaters on How Skateboarding Is More Inclusive Than Ever – and Why It Still Has a Long Way to Go’ By Nav Gill. See a copy of the article below and get some key insight on the world of female skating from the pros themselves.
It’s a well-documented fact that skateboarding is a sport that’s overwhelmingly dominated by men. However over the years, the once exclusionary industry has slowly, steadily been opening its gates to women. Of course, this hasn’t come without a battle; although there were a handful of notable female skaters through the ’70s and ’80s like Peggy Oki and Cindy Whitehead, it took until the ’90s before a woman landed pro status (Elissa Steamer who was sponsored by Toy Machine, FYI).
The battle has continued well into the twenty-tens; women are still fighting for equal rights and pay across pretty much every industry, globally. Although progression is happening – there are more professional female skaters right now than ever before and – it’s fair to say the sports industry has been painfully slow to recognizing, celebrating and respecting the world of women’s skateboarding. With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on the horizon – the first in which skateboarding will officially enter as a competing sport – as well as the rise of women-led skate communities like BRUJAS and The Skate Kitchen, could this be the era in which female skateboarders finally score even footing with their male counterparts?
We caught up with three professional skaters – Lizzie Armanto, Atita Verghese and Brighton Zeuner – to discuss how women’s skateboarding has evolved through the years and importantly, the work that still needs to be done. Read the full conversation below.
How have you seen women’s skateboarding progress during your career so far?
Lizzie Armanto: When I started skating, it was just myself or maybe one other girl at a park. Now there’s a lot more, all at varying skill levels. The girls have progressed so fast. There are girls who maybe could do three tricks four years ago and now they’re finishing atop of pro events. We’ve got a long way to go, but the gap is slowly getting smaller between men and women.
Brighton Zeuner: When I first started skateboarding, there were hardly any girls at my local skatepark, but I’ve seen that steadily change. Now, I’m coming into my career at a time when Lizzie has Thrasher and Transworld covers and Nora Vasconcellos, Fabiana Delfino, Lizzie [Armanto], Vanessa Torres and Elissa Steamer have each had ads and/or video parts. Thrasher and Independent filmed and promoted an all-female skate trip, and Frog Skateboards is promoting me today as they would a male. Now, Vans is launching female skateboarding campaigns globally and having Lizzie [Armanto] and I participate in designing our own shoes and clothes – I feel like we’re starting to be a real part of the industry’s presentation of skateboarding.
Atita Verghese: I see a lot of movements popping up around the world and I feel like the gates are open to more who want to be a part of it. It’s no longer expected of you to fit into a certain kind of female skater to make it because diversity and uniqueness is being celebrated. I see talent coming up from the eastern side of the world which was not so common to find even back in 2012, when I had just started skateboarding.
It [skateboarding] used to be this underdog thing that was paid attention to by mostly others that were passionate about its progression but now there’s more exposure globally. It really feels like the times just flipped everything around so suddenly and it’s so amazing to be able to witness this happening in our time.
In your opinion, what are some of the challenges female skaters still face today?
Lizzie Armanto: The easy answer is financial equality, but that will get better as the women’s skateboard market grows, hopefully. The biggest challenge I see right now is how to showcase the best skaters, male and female, at the Tokyo Olympics. With only 20 skaters per discipline and a three skater limit per country, a lot, a LOT, of the best skaters and top twenty in the world will not be competing at the Olympics. How can we share with the world true skating if our best are sitting at home watching?
Atita Verghese: Since it’s still such a male-dominated activity and industry I think it’s still a challenge for female skaters to penetrate through. There’s definitely the most support there’s ever been for female skaters but that doesn’t mean it’s all good either. Just with anything else female skaters have to work harder to prove themselves in these environments. There can be more improvements, like female judges on the contest circuit, more women in the decision making, more exposure for female photographers/filmers/editors and voices, more opportunities for women to make a living out of doing what they love.
Vans recently held its Park Series contest in China – what are your thoughts on the women’s skate scene in Asia and how it’s growing?
Atita Verghese: I think it’s on the world map now. Skaters like Margielyn Didal, Aori Nishimura and Kisa Nakamura are well-heard names. The scene is getting more diverse with skaters from different countries starting to represent more now. Organizations like Skateistan and Kovalam Skate Club doing necessary work to improve chances for local kids to start and continue skateboarding is key in contributing to the expansion of skateboarding in these areas where it normally would take much longer to happen. I can’t speak for all the Asian countries but in India there is a lack of skateboard equipment and infrastructure. Our roads are too crusty and crowded to skate on and the parks are not always free to skate in. These factors make it harder for it to grow.
How do you think female interest in skateboarding will grow in the run-up to, and after, the 2020 Olympics?
Brighton Zeuner: The 2020 Olympics will introduce female skateboarding to girls and women in places where it’s still not popular and possibly get some genuine interest. For the girls who skate without much support, I hope it’ll make the people around them want to support them. I believe after 2020, there will be a big growth spurt in women’s skateboarding in contests, and also filming. I can understand why a lot of skateboarders don’t think it should be in the Olympics or even in contests, but I hope that the most core, non-contest-y skaters, or skaters who feel it’s more of a lifestyle than a sport, can still benefit from the positive attention that Vans Park Series and Olympics are giving skateboarding. These days, it’s a lifestyle, an art and a sport—because even the most core skaters, jumping down big stair sets and hitting big rails are, like it or not, world-class athletes.
Atita Verghese: I think contests on that level will bring about a legitimacy towards skateboarding as a sport and make it a viable career option for young girls looking to pursue it. That will in turn be received by parents and communities to encourage interested girls to pursue it. I think governments and organizations will start to take recognition and hopefully provide an increased infrastructure towards training their athletes. All of this will have a ripple effect on others such avenues as well.
I think sure, why not? For those people that want to get into competitive skateboarding and represent their countries doing so then why not have the option for them to do so. In a country like India where competitions are held with high regard it will be great to see a less fortunate girl come out of hardships through skateboarding and if contests will help her get there then that’s great.
That being said it is always great to see people skateboarding for fun. Contests are great to make opportunities for yourself but the spirit of skateboarding is not about competition.
Lizzie Armanto: It will definitely grow leading up to the Olympics as many people from around the world see the Olympics as a benchmark, and perhaps look at skating as a way to be in the Olympics for them. Skateboarding exists both in and out of competition and with or without the Olympics, skateboarding will live on. If someone wants to start skating, let it be for the love, not for the fame and glory or medals. If those things are a byproduct of your love for skating, then cool. If not, you’ll still have skating regardless.
How do you think can the skateboarding industry support and include women further going forward?
Brighton Zeuner: It has come a long way but I would encourage more events worldwide, to help grow the local female skate scenes.
Lizzie Armanto: Companies like Vans and Nike have major women’s initiatives in their strategy, and they’re doing a lot more to broaden female skateboarding reach. Hopefully, we’ll see more brands in the near future following that path.
Atita Verghese: External support is absolutely crucial in supporting girls and women to keep skateboarding especially in places like India. There can be many ways to do this but the best thing for our industry to support organizations that are in pursuit of supporting girls and women to skate by donating and providing equipment.
I think every brand should have female skaters on their teams, more publications should do more interviews and features of women and girls in skateboarding. All contests should make their prizes equal for women. There should be more women on the board for companies, organizations and committees as well as more female judges on the contest circuit.
It goes down to the basic level of just making girls who come to your local skate park feel more included and supported.
Link to original HYPEBAE article HERE.
Images Credit: Elle – La leçon de style d’une skateuse fashion
During the past few weeks I have been on the move which presents the opportunity to plug into one of my favorite go to’s in entertainment, Outside Online’s Podcast. Today I listened to their latest dispatch session with
Bianca Valenti and her Big-Wave Mission. Inspiring on so many levels.
This episode touches on this past year in surfing and how professional surfing has undergone a remarkable and very unexpected evolution. Beginning in 2019, the World Surf League is offering equal prize money to men and women at all of its events, making it one of very few global sports leagues to do so. A key part of this story was the push to get women included in the big-wave contest at Mavericks, on the Northern California coast, an effort headlined by 31-year-old Bianca Valenti. In a way, her whole career had been leading up to this mission. Outside executive editor Michael Roberts reports on Valenti’s journey from a teenager frustrated by the bro culture that ruled surfing to the front lines of a movement that could have a lasting impact on all of sports.
– Excerpt from Outside Online
It’s inspiring to see how one woman’s journey has the capability to act as a catalyst for change that will undoubtedly impact the progress in female sports equality. I highly recommend tuning in to Outside’s Podcast and checking out this edition.
The ultramarathon has gotten ultra trendy. The phenomenal rise in popularity has increased 1,000% over the last decade alone. The new ‘extreme race’ have overshadowed the once impressive ‘marathon’, dubbing their 26.2 miles too achievable. The staggering number of participants in ultra-marathons in North America alone have increased from 18,000 people in 2003 to 105,000 in 2017.
An ‘ultramarathon‘, also called ultra distance or ultra running, is any footrace longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometers (26.219 mi).
The popularity could be in part because of social media. Which lends experiences to attainability. Its popularity is sustained by the increase in races offered. The world biggest ultramarathons can be found at the Run Ultra website run by Steve Diedrich. When the site launched 12 years ago their were 160 races listed globally. This year he has over 1,800 races on the site. Other smaller ultra-races can be found on the German ultrarunning website DUV , offering a database reaching back to the very first ultra, the 89km London to Brighton footrace in 1837.
So what’s the allure? Why are more and more people taking on races than can last days rather than hours? And is it any good for us? Maybe we can attribute the fact that as or daily lives become more and more dependent on being plugged in at all times and the transition into a more or less fully autonomous society we are losing touch what what it feels like to be alive. The extreme race offers a euphoric feeling like no other, leaving us grasping for experiences and tests that will magnify the feeling of being alive. Investigated In the brilliant documentary The Barkley Marathons: The Race that Eats Its Young, competitors explore what fuels their desire to achieve the unattainable, feats the human body must endure in order to compete.
To see what happening to the health of these ultrarunners? A more specific study in 2014 on health issues related to more than 1,200 ultra-runners was conducted by Dr Martin Hoffman, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of California. His conclusion was participants were healthier than the non-ultrarunning population, with a low prevalence of virtually all serious medical issues. “At present,” he told me, “there is no good evidence to prove there are negative long-term health consequences from ultramarathon running.”