As I mentioned in a recent post, I recently came across one of the coolest new ideas I’ve ever heard of: Gender neutral shoes.
Before NiK Kacy started designing shoes, NiK worked at Google and had one of those kinds of creative jobs that you really don’t understand unless you have a marketing degree. Phrases like “interactive producer” and “custom engagement” dot NiK’s LinkedIn profile. In 2013, Google offered NiK the choice of moving in a different direction within the company, or moving on.
Like many of us in midlife, NiK had a list of dreams for “one day.” Unlike most of us, NiK decided to pursue them, and quit a secure job with a stable company to do so. NiK spent the next six months traveling and learning about shoe design and construction, and NiK Kacy Footwear was born.
A campaign is born
I absolutely love the designs in the Fortune Collection on the NiK Kacy Footwear Kickstarter campaign. In fact, the shoes and the concept resonate with me so much that I have decided to become a backer. I love the wingtip and derby, but I am going to select a boot, which will be difficult because all three are winners. The suede desert boot looks is what I would call a chukka, somewhere between a shoe and a boot, and I think it would look great with jeans. But the dress boot and the monkstrap boot are equally timeless and appealing.
By design, all the shoes lean towards what most would consider a masculine look. But I think NiK Kacy’s point is that these looks are beautiful and stylish no matter what your gender is. Some women, myself included, go GAGA for these kinds of shoes, and it is NEXT TO IMPOSSIBLE to find them in our sizes.
The designs somehow manage to be equally classic and edgy; the red stitching accents are a nod both to NiK’s Chinese heritage and the red marriage equality version of the Human Rights Campaign logo. But even more than the designs themselves, I appreciate what these shoes stand for. Our shoes contribute to the hyper-feminization of women in contemporary culture, which is frustrating because not all women are Barbies or ballerinas. In my opinion, the world has ballet flats and stilettos out the ying yang. Oxfords, derbies and monkstraps aren’t men’s shoes; they’re power shoes, and what woman doesn’t need some of those in her closet?
The campaign ends March 27, so act now if you want some.
A word about gender-neutral
You may have noticed that I avoided the use of pronouns in this post. I did so out of respect for a person who doesn’t buy into the “gender binary” which categorizes people into distinctly male and female. NiK identifies as “gender-fluid” or “third sex.” Try this idea on: Sex is biological; gender is cultural. Go here for the Wikipedia article.