Many sneaker-loving women will know the frustration of spotting the perfect pair of trainers only to find out that, yet again, they only come in men’s sizes. The women’s sections of sports shops are often dominated by overtly girly details, from pink or gold trims to snakeskin inserts. Not everyone wants to do the tennis court or commute in sugary sneakers.
Now, Nike has taken this realisation and made it a central part of its new female-centric retail concept, Nike Unlaced. It will take the form of an online destination on the Nike website, launching March 27, as well as a physical, curated area in key Nike Stores from the summer. Amy Montagne, global vice-president and general manager of Nike Women, says: “One of the most important things we will be doing is giving women access to and choice of product like never before. We are removing barriers with unisex sizing throughout the lines — and that includes high-heat [the most covetable] products like the new Virgil Abloh x [Air] Jordan I — which is really important for women.”
Capitalising on women’s increasing appetite for cutting-edge sportswear makes sense for the brand. Although at the end of the last financial year the women’s sportswear business at Nike was worth less than the men’s, at $6.6bn compared with $16bn, sales of women’s shoes and apparel at Nike have been growing faster than men’s for several years, and they expect that trend to continue. The Unlaced concept was initially trialled in Nike retail stores in London and the brand saw strong double-digit sales increases compared with the same period the previous year.