Being respected and welcomed into the sneaker community can be a laborious journey for anyone. It’s a tediously gate-kept space that has rapidly grown into its own male-dominated culture that often provides female sneakerheads with little to no freedom to thrive. Subjected to higher resell markups, harsher criticism, and far less opportunities than their male counterparts, women are often pushed into feeling intimidated, judged, and lost all in the name of sneaker culture.
SoleSavy is a membership-based platform that exists to help sneaker lovers buy sneakers fairly and at retail cost. With the goal of creating equal opportunity for women to explore sneaker culture, the brand has expanded into launching an exclusive space just for females. Led by their Director of Women’s Strategy, Toronto sneaker influencer Anna Bediones, SoleSavy’s dedicated sub-community will help women learn about the culture, network, and buy the sneakers they want without ridiculous markups—which Anna says women far too often agree with paying. By subscribing to a monthly membership, users can gain access to SoleSavy’s online sneaker community with benefits like exclusive release info, instant links to their shoe size, community Slack channels, access to raffles, contests, and more.
We spoke with Anna about SoleSavy’s approach to creating a space for women and why they need their own exclusive community in order to grow within sneaker culture.
Can you talk a bit about your experience in the sneaker community and how that led to your role at SoleSavy?
I took an interest in sneakers at a young age, and worked at various sneaker retailers from high school all through university. I’ve been working in the sneaker media industry for almost 10 years now, beginning as a freelance writer for Complex Sneakers back in 2013. From there, I worked with Finish Line to develop a strategy to engage the women’s consumer and became the face of their women’s blog content, and have continued to cement myself as a female voice in the sneaker space, both through my written work, my online presence, and the programming I advocate for when working with brands. I have worked with Nike, Jordan Brand, adidas, Reebok, Foot Locker, Bleacher Report, and more, wearing different hats from writer, stylist, strategist, host, and influencer as I figured out my position here. I’ve written for SoleSavy a few times before, and we’ve been trying to figure out a way to work together, and one day it just clicked: building out a women’s community to provide a safe and inclusive space for women to enjoy and learn about sneakers.
How did the women’s-only platform officially come together?
The SoleSavy team is on a mission to revive the sneaker community, if you will, and they have always wanted to create space for women within that. It’s a common discourse within the sneaker community, that women want to be respected as members of it, and the way SoleSavy wanted to approach that was by intentionally dedicating energy towards that.
”Women need to have a space where they can feel safe to enjoy and learn about sneakers without men chiming in.”
What challenges do women face in the culture and why is it important for them to have an exclusive space in the sneaker community?
Women need to have a space where they can feel safe to enjoy and learn about sneakers without men chiming in. For some reason the criteria to like sneakers as a woman is much higher than it is to be a man, and it’s almost like you have to pass some sort of sneakerhead test. You can’t be too hype, but if you don’t like anything cool, that’s not good either. You can like sneakers and not know everything about them, and you can like whatever you like, no matter what your entry point into sneakers was.
Why do you think women are so under-represented in the space?
This is all top-down. There aren’t enough women making decisions for women.
Can you talk a bit about how SoleSavy works and how the platform is regulated?
SoleSavy is a membership-based platform that provides sneakerheads with resources and strategies to purchase sneakers at retail. We offer Zoom training sessions and guides, along with dedicated sessions for big releases. There is an application process put in place to vet all applicants and ensure that no resellers make it into our platform. We also have a team of community leaders who are constantly monitoring all our channels to ensure that this remains a safe and positive community for our members to be a part of. To take this further, we have a separate channel for women to join so that they have special attention and resources from our team.
For women just entering the space, what advice would you give them?
Like what you like, and you’ll find your people. You don’t need to own a specific rotation of sneakers to consider yourself a part of this community.
In what ways can the sneaker community support women and more specifically WOC?
Amplify women. Teach women. Hire women. This is my personal goal with my role—to create opportunities for BIPOC women with the platform that I’ve been given. We want to give women the resources to put themselves in a position to win, and the thing is they simply don’t know how big they can dream in this space. I obviously can’t hire them all but I can help foster the next generation of women in the sneaker industry.
Specifically in Canada, who are some of the female leaders in sneaker culture?
I feel a little embarrassed that I don’t know more names, at least in Canada, but that’s what I hope to achieve with my role: amplify the women making a difference. Off the top of my head I immediately think of Abby Albino and Shelby Weaver of Makeway, the first stand-alone women’s-only boutique in the country, and one of few in North America.
If you had to take only three pairs of sneakers into the future for the rest of life, which sneakers would you bring?
I may never have a consistent answer for this. Today I’ll say, the Air Jordan 4 “White Cement,” an Air Max—probably 180, and the Air Jordan 1 “Chicago”.
Just kidding, that’s what I say almost every time.
What are some upcoming drops that need to be on women’s radar?
Definitely the Air Jordan 3 collaboration with A Ma Maniere—I have been so enamoured with the story behind the shoe and the way James Whitner’s team has executed the rollout to actually prioritize women to be able to purchase this sneaker. We actually interviewed him for our podcast earlier this week. And then, of course, the Aleali Mays (both releases were pushed back). Other than that, a lot of what I like is general release.