08.03.21Features
ARTICLE BY Audrey Bugeja

A Few Words to Share on International Women’s Day

I grew up in a migrant family with three older sisters and parents who brought us all up to believe we could achieve anything with hard work and determination. We were taught blood ran through our veins the same way it did for every person on this planet. In short, we are all created equal. Decades on, I still think about those lessons and as I write this as managing editor of Sneaker Freaker, those words are the foundation of what I believe and take into my day-to-day interactions.

The sneaker industry has evolved greatly over the last decade. Since starting at Sneaker Freaker – which has been an amazing ride! – I have continued to witness change while also working towards the goal of positively implementing change. I take that responsibility very seriously and firmly believe that a brand like Sneaker Freaker can use its influence for good, and must.

Sneaker Freaker Magazine Issue 39 Reina Koyano
Sneaker Freaker Magazine Issue 39 Mini Swoosh
,Sneaker Freaker Magazine Issue 39 Mini Swoosh
Sneaker Freaker Magazine Issue 39 Chicks with Kicks
Sneaker Freaker Magazine Issue 42 Stephanie Howard
,Sneaker Freaker Magazine Issue 43 Lalla

As a team, we have always championed female involvement at all levels, giving women a platform to share their creative work and opinions. Recent magazine features on Super Lalla, Ria Rascal, Reina Koyano, Miniswoosh, Drake Cereal and Chicks With Kicks have ensured female sneaker collectors and artists are well represented. Interviews with Yoon Ahn of AMBUSH®, Feng Chen Wang, Stephanie Howard, Juliana Sagat and Lena Groneck have added new dimensions to the ongoing discussions. We have also worked with Shan Pryce-Royal, Yasmin Kovacs, Annika Matheis, Hanna Helsø and Sally Javadi (to name a few) who are all pushing women in the sneaker industry to the forefront in their own way.

Over the last 12-months we’ve seen killer colabs from talented female designers, new initiatives authentically executed to support women in the industry and female-led social accounts like Sneakers by Women and Women in Sneakers (shout out to Julia Lebosse and Steph Hulbert-Thomas). Creating conversations about empowerment and changing the power structure in the footwear industry are the key to these collaborations. Thanks to these forward-thinking individuals, the barriers are slowly being broken down, forging a new path for the next generation.

Feng Chen Wang for Sneaker Freaker
Feng Chen Wang for Sneaker Freaker
Sneaker Freaker Magazine Issue 42 Lalla
Sneaker Freaker Magazine Issue 42 Lalla
Sneaker Freaker Magazine Issue 39 Lalla
,Sneaker Freaker Magazine Issue 39 Reina Koyano
Sneaker Freaker Magazine Issue 44 Ria Rascal
Stephanie Howard
Sneaker Freaker Swap Meet
Yoon Ahn x Nike Dunks
Yoon Ahn
Courtesy of AMBUSH®

There’s no denying the sneaker industry is still a male-dominated space, but by giving women the platform to share and contribute, we are working toward a brighter future for all. I am so proud of how far we’ve come, but there’s still a long way to go. Brands have evolved and I do believe most understand their influential role in this journey. However, it’s more than putting out female colourways, being conscious of inclusive sizing or running campaigns that acknowledge women. It starts internally at the hiring stage. Who sits on the board and in leadership positions? Who is hired for creative or technical roles? Who makes decisions on female-specific design and strategy? Women don’t need to be told we’re intelligent or strong. What is needed is more opportunity and an equal stake in the future at all levels.

There are some truly amazing women in the footwear industry who I have had the pleasure of working and collaborating with. Many lessons have been learnt, many more lessons have been shared. A special shout out to Ella Haines and Cesca Benson, two integral members of the Sneaker Freaker team who always bring their unique level of knowledge to every situation. You both continue to push your own boundaries, and truly make an impact. Together we will continue to champion women and fight for equality.

Happy International Women’s Day. Be kind, keep supporting each other, share the love around and speak louder than ever. Here’s to all women, everyday.

Audrey x

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