It’s been a few weeks since we last checked in, but that’s because we’ve been busy behind the scenes working on the “Is It The Shoes?” programme that’s going to be winging it’s way to you in October, which, when you think about it, isn’t really that far away. We’re getting tingles…
Anyway, keeping in line with doing slightly different things with our blog, we thought we’d outsource the talent this time around and pass the blogging baton to one of our “Is It The Shoes?” collaborators, Lemara-Lindsay Prince. She’s a sneakerhead who is doing big things and has big opinions to match!
She’ll be sitting on the IITS panel discussing a number of various issues, primarily about women and sneaker culture – looking forward to it already! We caught up with her and asked a few questions…
We Are Parable: What do sneakers mean to you?
Lemara: Sneakers to me are all about expression, how you choose to portray your own style and identity through what’s on the bottom of your feet. Also, to me it’s more than just the parts and materials that make up the sneaker.It’s the stories that the wearer imbues in the product that makes it mean so much.
We Are Parable: What was the shoe that got you hooked?
Lemara: Any of the pairs that my big brother wore back in the 90s, he was big into kicks and still is. I remember him wearing Huarache OG’s and Jordan’s, so when the Huarache re-released this year I had to have them and he got them too in a size 12. The first shoe got me hooked though was the Zoo York x Nike Blazer. I remember walking down Portobello Road Market with my friends and we went into a shop called Supra and I was drawn to the yellow gum sole – I still love anything with a yellow gum sole. I knew I wanted them bad! I remember emptying out what I had in my pocket and paying some money for them, getting a receipt and then going back with my dad a couple weeks later and paying for them with pocket money. They really mean a lot to me, not just because they were the first pair to get me hooked, but somehow my late Grandad had a pair too. That’s what I mean about sneakers meaning more, and having a personal attachment by the wearer which belies the parts that make up the shoe.
We Are Parable: How did you get into sneaker culture?
Lemara: Through my elder brother first, and then when I started to play basketball in secondary school I knew those all black Reebok workouts weren’t going to cut it on the court anymore! So I went searching for basketball sneakers and ended up in Global Sports in Shepherds Bush, and then on trips to New York I started going to sneaker shops all over New York buying what I liked, so that would be my entrance into the culture.
We Are Parable: What’s your background?
Lemara: My background into sneaker culture is rooted in basketball definitely. However, being a undergraduate and now a postgraduate, soon to finish my MA education is a huge part of my life, and I’ve managed to incorporate my love of kicks into it. I chose to do my MA by research in American Studies, which meant I have to write a 40,000 word dissertation on a topic of my choice. So I decided to research the relationship between gender and subcultures and write about women and sneaker culture. As a female enthusiast myself, we are quite rare – you probably know a couple others, or you can count them on one hand. Sneaker culture as a whole is a predominantly male space, so I wanted to find other women like me and discuss how they exist / navigate a male-centric space. How they construct their identities and how they make themselves present, as opposed to the invisible status assumed about women in subcultures. I was able to travel to America for a whole month and interview over 30 women across nine states: New York, Chicago, Miami, Portland, Washington DC, Philadelphia, San Francisco and LA. I even got to talk to people who work for the sportswear brands. It was a great experience and opportunity to find an active set of women who were passionate about the culture and who had a lot to say about women’s marginalisation in sneaker culture.
We Are Parable: What would you say to an aspiring sneaker head?
Lemara: Get the knowledge, sneaker culture didn’t just start yesterday and I think it’s important to know the heritage and history of the culture. I really like the book Sneakers: The Complete Collectors’Guide, it’s really accessible. There’s a saying “don’t sleep on the ladies” which I got from Lori Lobenstine and the Girls Got Kicks movement, meaning remember there are women that collect too and lastly buy what you like – if you’re in a shop and there’s one pair that jumps off the wall at you, like literally – get them.
Many thanks to our guest blogger, and we’ll see you next time…be sure to check back here and on www.weareparable.com for updates on “Is It The Shoes?’, and find us on twitter: @isittheshoes13 (use the hashtag #isittheshoes13)
A and T