For many years, the options for sneaker-loving women have been somewhat limited. Although there’s been steady growth in the sector, and a number of heated drops and colabs, there’s been a clear shortfall in actual stockists carrying a full range of women’s and unisex sizes. It’s this very dilemma that inspired the creation of Sole Finess, a premium women’s online sneaker destination based in Melbourne, Australia. We caught up with owner Murata PJs to find out more.
Tell us a little about Sole Finess.
I’ve always loved sneakers and the culture that surrounds them, but like most women in this region I found that getting sneakers you wanted was never easy. I’ve worked with a lot of major sports and lifestyle footwear brands over the past ten years, so I guess my exposure within the industry has lead me to the point where I figured that I can help change the game through Sole Finess – even if just a little bit.
It looks like you’re stocking a great range of sneakers. What models have you noticed your customers are looking for? Women’s specific models or unisex kicks?
I wanted to make sure that Sole Finess represented a balance of unisex styles as well as a comprehensive range of women’s. The recent shift in trend of tonals, pinks and pastels has had an incredible response across all brands – anything with a hint of colour is outselling black and whites by far. It’s really great to see colour making a comeback.
You’ve mentioned that Sole Finess will offer a creative platform for ladies to flex their talents. Can you tell us more about this?
It’s not just sneakers; we’re collaborating with local and international female artists, illustrators, designers, photographers and creatives on all things Sole Finess. We try to work with an all-girl crew, only because guys have been steady dominating the scene for so long – we wanted to create a space strictly for the honeys! A key project for us at the moment is collaborating with artists on the carry bags we give away each season. The first and current one is with Sydney based illustrator Martina Martian, and for next season we’ve hooked up with an incredible graffiti artist from Melbourne - we’re really looking forward to being able to announce her soon!
We want to use Sole Finess as a platform to encourage women to get involved and connect with us, that way we can all help contribute to making women’s sneaker culture bigger and badder than it’s ever been.
What would a dream colab look like for you?
Oh, that’s tough! It would be very minimal and classic. And I wouldn’t be able to choose just one, so it would need to come in a pack consisting of Nike Air Max 90s, Reebok Classics and Adidas Superstars. All would be constructed from a matching blend of premium matte and perforated leathers – maybe in a muted sand grey or blush pink with some kind of coordinating ice sole. It sounds ridiculous but hey, dream colab right?
We’ve seen retro tennis silhouettes, like the Stan Smith, enjoy a long reign as fashion’s favourite sneaker style – do you think this trend is set to continue? What’s next?
The revival of the Stan Smith has been phenomenal and is sure to stick around for many more seasons to come. adidas are brilliant at bringing back the classics and, as you would have noticed already, the Gazelles are next in line – which is really exciting. Classics in general are in really high demand and I think that it’s something women can easily relate to, because you don’t necessarily have to be a sneaker enthusiast to appreciate them. I also love that women are all about more technical styles such as Sock Darts and Ultra Boosts. Hopefully we can get a bit more variation in the women’s range in upcoming seasons.
Why the decision to operate as online-only? Any plans to open a physical location down the track?
Australia isn’t the only country in this region that is under represented in the women’s sneaker game. We wanted to establish a presence where Sole Finess could reach a much wider audience – not just with sneakers, but with collaborative projects as well. As for a Sole Finess physical store, if it ever happens it will no doubt be a very unique retail experience!
How do the tastes of female and male sneakerheads differ in your eyes?
I don’t think we’re that different at all. Women have always been drawn to men’s styles and even now we’re seeing that in vice versa, so the gap between genders is getting much smaller. The brands have a better understanding of what women want in the market place, which has been a long time coming. If all men’s styles were made available in women’s sizing, in my opinion, it would be an absolute revolution and I think most women would agree.