There is a "model movement" happening right now in the fitness industry. Fashion's favorite faces have taken over a spotlight that once to belonged to female athletes, simply because wearing sneakers and sports bras is currently the cool thing to do. Rather than using this spotlight as a opportunity to embrace female athletes, brand giants like Under Armour, Reebok, and Nike have abandoned their core users for the face of Gisele, Miranda, and Karlie. We love models, but where are the strong, beautiful athletes that have worked hard to earn their rankings and sports sponsorships? Are brands sending the wrong message by offering Gisele a ridiculously large contract over a young female athlete that could inspire a new generation of tennis, soccer and basketball players?
It's easy to understand the effort it takes to bring in a new audience. Putting long-limbed characters in athletic settings is usually a solid move for success (Keira Knightly was never as likable as she was in Bend It Like Beckham, Victoria's Secret Sport has been killing it). On the fashion side, seeing Karlie's gorgeous physique may challenge fashionistas to pick up a kettleball or do a push-up. Cara in a Chanel themed gym certainly made us want to take up boxing, even if we don't get to sport-quilted accessories and a tweed-encrusted ponytail.
This all came to a head when I recently attended a press event for a running watch where the spokesperson was a 20-year-old model. She was sweet and young, reminded me of my sister that just entered her freshman year in college. On her knee there was a brace; on her feet were the oldest training shoes I've ever seen on someone so young. She mentioned that her knee had been bothering her, but she'd do her best to complete the one mile run. When it came time to stretch flamingo-style on one foot, our spokesmodel wobbled back and forth. It might have been nerves, but it was clear that running was not her go-to thing. This wasn't her fault; she did her part, ran the mile and looked beautiful doing it.
Hey, athletic brands everywhere—why not pick someone that knows their stuff when it comes to running and the technology involved? Lauren Fleshman, Kara Goucher, and Shalane Flanagan are probably all too busy for another sponsorship. Why not find the next Grete Waitz and have her impress us with not only her speed and athleticism but also how well she wears that watch? If you see the commercial (now banned), you'll understood why the brand opted for the young blonde—closeups of her boobs in a strapless bra bouncing along were the NSFW ticket to success.
But, maybe there is a proper way to fuse the world of professionally looking good and the business of fitness. Today SELF Magazine unveiled their all new look, perhaps proving the fitness glossy has found a way to spread the message that strong is beautiful. "Today's top models treat their bodies like a business, hit the gym, Instagram their smoothies and get their beauty sleep instead of partying late into the night," the press release read. (Side note: That last part explains why Cara Delevingne has landed nearly every brand sponsorship this fall except an athletic one.)
According to the Spring 2015 shows that have wrapped in New York, London, and Milan, the sporty trend isn't dying anytime soon. With sneakers in the spotlight, we should be highlighting the women that use them. Not just the women who look good being photographed in them.
Calvy Click is the Editor-in-Chief of Sneaker Report. When she isn’t writing about performance footwear and apparel, you can find her running around Manhattan to Rick Ross anthems or hitting the tennis court. Keep up if you can on Instagram or Twitter.