Sneaker culture today is a competitive environment centered around the idea of exclusivity. While this can be exciting when it comes to limited color-ways or collaborations, it can be extremely damaging when it floods into the community aspect of the culture and industry. Sneaker culture has high barriers to entry for new comers and even higherones for women, non-binary individuals, and those in LGBTQ+ community. The current spaces that exist are prominently cis-straight-male based, feature mainstream brands, and are focused on commerce and the individual. These spaces can be intimidating if they are new or do not fit the traditional idea of a “Sneakerhead.” As someone who has enjoyed sneakers and is a woman I know the experience first hand of not feeling wanted in this space. Sneakers are what started me on my path to discover that I wanted to be a designer and inspired me to dream big.
My thesis focuses on developing a branded, inclusive physical space focused on producing an inclusive, human centered dialogue within sneaker culture through experimentation and community building. It aims to lower the barriers both for those who are consumers and creators of sneakers by having a hub for collaboration and bonding as well as a showcase for rising designers. The larger goal is to create a cultural change within the footwear industry where there is a focus on the individuals wearing the shoes and how they wear them rather than on the shoes themselves.