In a world where women are buying faster than ever, is this the time for sneaker and streetwear brands to take note?
We say YES.
Words and Images: @evemeetswest
Between Fenty Beauty, Girls Trip, and the Aleali May Jordan 1 Collab, women of color undoubtedly had a huge amount of marketing wins in 2017. Imagine if the sneaker industry as a whole recognized us for the power players we’ve already proven we are.
A report released by Nielsen in 2017, shows just how far ‘Black Girl Magic’ spans. When it comes to mainstream culture, there is no contest on who the driving force is. It goes without saying that Black Americans have long played a pivotal role behind popular culture in the U.S. and 73 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 67 percent of Hispanics believe that to be true. Black women also over index their counterparts when it comes to influencing fashion, beauty, etc. and their willingness to spend more on high-quality items (37 percent higher in fact). If that alone isn’t reason enough for these brands to take representation in marketing seriously, I don’t know what is. Although, for some, that was more than enough.
Exhibit A: Fenty Beauty. If you weren’t rocking Fenty from head to toe this year, what were you doing? From Rihanna's always delightful Puma collabs to a groundbreaking product line, it’s safe to say RiRi had one of the most profitable years yet. Not only was Fenty Beauty named one of the 25 Best Inventions of 2017’ by Time, but they reportedly racked in $72 million in their debut month. You read that right - 72 million dollars in one month. This immediate success put the brand’s earned media value higher than Kylie Cosmetics, KKW Cosmetics, Benefit and Urban Decay alike as reported by WWD. Now, there are a few obvious factors that come into play for their incredible success. First and foremost: Rihanna. Just about anything she touches is gold because who doesn’t love the Barbadian bad gal? Secondly, and most importantly, the way they marketed to women - especially women of color.
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Fenty Beauty shook the beauty industry with an impressive 40 foundation shade line-up upon launch. Their effect could immediately be seen across social media as brands like Makeup Forever, Kylie Cosmetics, Maybelline etc. began boasting about their own “inclusive” foundation ranges. The truth of the matter is, women of color were not here for the band wagon. What Fenty Beauty did with their debut was create a story that every woman, including women of color could buy into. By sharing brand images with people that looked like them, wore makeup like them, and with shades created for them it was easily a recipe for success.
What Fenty Beauty did with their debut was create a story that every woman, including women of color, could buy into.
Now, unless you lived under a rock this year you or your friend’s probably saw Girls Trip. The summer blockbuster made history by raking in a whopping $100 million at the box office. The thing is, the bar is always set so low by the media for projects that market and target people of color that when we win and prove our power, our success becomes categorized as uncanny. It is the first film to be written, produced, directed and starring an all-black cast. Literally for us, by us. The press touted the movie’s success as a “surprise,” but it didn’t come as a surprise to our community. The movie captured an experience that is not new to us (albeit a bit dramatic - we hope none of you have had a bathroom emergency hanging above thousands on Bourbon Street), but true to us.
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Which leads me to my last point, the Aleali May Jordan 1. In a world full of lookalike influencers, Aleali stands out on her own. As one of the few women of color paving the way in the heavily white and male dominated space of sneaker culture and streetwear, she is without a doubt one of the most influential women of them all. Her style is unique and she stays true to her roots all while carrying an air of effortlessness and authenticity. Aleali is only the second woman to to collaborate with Jordan Brand (shout out to the OG WOC pioneer Vashtie for being the first). It’s safe to say we all lost our proverbial minds when the collaboration was announced. Not only did she launch a gender neutral sleek looking Jordan One, but she marketed it in one of the most authentic marketing campaigns we’ve seen this year. Using the place she once called home, Los Angeles, she shared her story of how she fell in love with sneaker culture and made sure those sights, sounds, and emotions were weaved into the activations and assets that followed. I mean, she basically set up a mini Slauson Super Mall in Undefeated complete with Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles and Randy’s Donuts. Your fave could never.
Now, you can find her mixed material grey and black Jordan 1s with a price premium of 143.8% over the original retail price on StockX. Not bad for a woman of color. Not bad for anyone. Her shadow inspired Ones have been featured on numerous best sneakers of the year lists further cementing her influence on our wallets.
The common thread through each of these wins is authenticity. Letting people of color create their own narratives is a recipe for success. If the heavily “urban” influenced sneaker industry took a step back and gave opportunities to more people of color it would undoubtedly create a wave. When it comes to women of color and the sneaker industry they, the sneaker industry, have taken a lot. It’s time to balance the scale and give credit where credit is due.
As Oscar winning actress and walking #Chickspiration Viola Davis said,
“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.”
Eve is a CNK contributor who also has made appearances on Hypebae, FinishLine, HerTake, and is a Lids ambassador. She is originally from the great state of VA but currently resides on the best coast, in Los Angeles. You can contact her directly via Instagram or by visiting her website, EveMeetsWest.com.