Don’t Sleep On The Ladies

by September 28, 2011


by Abe Schwadron / @abe_squad

It all started on the playground. I had my grey sweatshirt on, as always, and my new Nike high tops. White canvas, black swoosh. Must have been the mid-70s, and I was nine or 10. I heard the whispers and comments.

“That girl’s got on Nikes.”

“She’s got high tops.”

The other kickball heads were sweating me on the sly. I loved it.

So begins Girls Got Kicks, the definitive account of the female sneakerhead community, captured through personal stories, worldwide photo shoots and, of course, outrageous kick collections. The book, in addition to being visually stunning, provides a look into the often overlooked and constantly under-appreciated class of women who love sneakers.

“It’s about sneaker culture, not just about sneakers,” says Lori Lobenstine, author of GGK and founder of the FemaleSneakerFiend blog. “And we needed a book that represented women in the culture.”

Lobenstine, like a majority of the women chronicled in GGK, was hooked after her first pair of Nikes. Her love for sneakers led her to find others who felt the same—others who shared her goal to “always have sneakers no one else had.”

The online sneaker world is largely male dominated, though, and to Lobenstine, the feeling of being ignored in a community that fit her life’s passion so naturally was frustrating. So in 2005, inspired by that frustration, she founded FSF, hoping to provide a safe haven for female sneakers collectors turned off by existing sneaker blogs littered with, as she puts it, “pictures of naked girls with shoes in their teeth.”

Since, FSF’s popularity has grown exponentially, even drawing media national media attention, including on MTV and in the Boston Globe. Women from Europe, South America and every pocket of the U.S. found FSF and shared stories, talked kicks and came together. “So many girls that are sneaker fiends think they’re the only one,” says Lobenstine.

Clearly, they are not. Many of the dozens of women profiled for GGK have sneaker collections that would put most guys’ closets to shame. Lobenstine had visions all along of a book—one like friend Bobbito Garcia’s “Where’d You Get Those?” (a riveting guide to the history of sneaker culture in NYC)—commemorating the place of the female sneaker-obsessed community in history in the form of a tangible product.

“I thought, let’s get some shine for the female designers and collectors,” says Lobenstine.

And the book is more than just a party favor for FSF readers. It’s a one-of-a-kind photo documentary (thanks to snapshots from Amanda Lopez) and an exploration of the little things in the life of sneaker-obsessed women living in a man’s world.

Take, for instance, page 175. Entitled “We’re Not Little Boys: A Petition for Smaller Sizes,” girls vent about Nike and adidas’ lack of attention, wishing the big companies would hear their prayers for the nicest kicks in a reasonable size. A sampling:

— It’s totally ridiculous that they don’t make these shoes in women’s sizes. The fat cats at Nike just don’t get it.
— I don’t understand why NOTHING COMES IN MY SIZE !

— I am a bigger sneakerhead than most of the “men” that I know. Broaden your horizons, people.
— I get sick off my brothers always finding nice kickz and I have to stick with basics.
— My boyfriend gets to wear cooler kicks than me and it’s bullshit.

Size (and it’s mattering) aside, the book is not anti-man, it’s pro-respect. So far, Lobenstine says she’s been blown away by the response—male, especially—to the book, noting the importance of having male allies in the sneaker community, not unlike in hoops circles. Women simply want men to “respect their game, whether it’s basketball game or sneaker game.”

Bottom line, it’s all about the shoes. And the girls of FSF and GGK pass the test with flying colorways.

“What other item do we wear that we’ve built this community around,” Lobenstine insists. “People wear basketball jerseys, but people don’t go to basketball jersey parties.”

The Girls Got Kicks “party” has already hit New York City and Boston, with upcoming stops in Miami, San Francisco, Chicago and Toronto. To see when the book tour will be in your city, hit the GGK blog.