“Pink it and shrink it” is the notorious way brands market sneakers to women. They take a popular men’s shoe, make it smaller, and produce it in “female-appropriate” colors like pinks and purples. There are two problems with this: “pinking it” leaves only a few style options to choose from, while “shrinking it,” because of a man’s anatomical differences, results in ill-fitting shoes. Sneaker companies have ignored the female customer consistently, and the only way we have been able to compensate is by buying men’s sneakers. I personally don’t have a problem with this and would argue that brands should be embracing the gender-neutrality of the sneaker.
If I find a pair of sneakers that I like, it doesn’t matter to me if it was made for a man or woman. For example, the sneaks shown here are the new Men’s Nike Innevas. (Since my closet is full of flyknits, I thought a woven pair would be nice, plus they fit!) And I am not the only one with this mentality. For decades many women have been embracing gender fluidity and sporting men’s fashions in smaller sizes. Coincidentally, The New York Times just published an article this week about gender lines blurring in fashion. The article talks about how there is this narrowing sexual divide emerging on the runways. This movement derives from fashion’s current fixation on the ’60s and ’70s androgynous looks by rock legends. Fashion influencers are weighing in on this as well. Miuccia Prada told Style.com this summer, “More and more, it feels instinctively right to translate the same idea for both genders.”
I was initially inspired to write this post because women are still not fully integrated into the sneaker culture. With the establishment of brands like Lululemon, “athleisure” has become a style, and women want more sneaker options to match. Despite the message of the Cinderella tale, high-heels aren’t the be-all and end-all of women’s shoe obsession. I thought the solution to this market need would be to create more styles that fit, but I quickly realized that there is another side to this story. Millennials are more focused on following brands that promote style with no boundaries over anything else. With that said, brands should capitalize on promoting sneakers as gender-neutral, not try to “pink and shrink” their way into women’s closets.