'Dream Crazier' or why 2019 is the year of strong women
2019 is nearly over, and with the close of the year, comes the end of another decade. The last decade has been a period of intense change, both in political and legal spheres, as well as the commercial and social world. 2019 specifically has seen a great shift in the rhetoric surrounding women’s roles in the work place, as well as in different professions.
This year has seen a convergence between politics and the commercial and entertainment industries, with more and more celebrities supporting real causes and initiatives. For example the currently trending teenager taking the political scene by storm in her mission to end global warming and change policy makers’ opinions on climate change, Greta Thunberg has become somewhat of a celebrity. Though Greta is just a girl of 16, adult men who disagree with her views and the mission that she is on see complete justification in commenting on her appearance and the way in which she dresses as a way to nullify her scientifically backed comments and undermine her authority. In response, Thunberg took to Instagram and said: ‘Here we go again... As you may have noticed, the haters are as active as ever - going after me, my looks, my clothes, my behaviour and my differences…I honestly don’t understand why adults would choose to spend their time mocking and threatening teenagers and children for promoting science, when they could do something good instead.’ This is a sad fact about todays society; it is so often that if a women is disagreed with, her appearance and fashion choices are commented on as a way to undermine and discourage. However, more and more we are seeing fashion brands work against this, whether through collaborating with powerful women, having a Vogue cover edited by The Duchess of Sussex, or supporting women in a particular industry.
At the start of this year, Nike declared 2019 to be the year for women in sport, with CEO and President Mark Parker stating that Nike believe ‘2019 is going to be a true tipping point for women in sport, with more participation, more coverage, and overall, more energy.”. Nike women now has 7.6m followers on instagram, with Nike becoming the highest grossing fashion brand ahead of Zara and Adidas. Nike Women’s instagram features the likes of German middle distance runner Koko Klosterhalfen, 100m runner Dina Asher-Smith, Women’s NBA player A'ja Wilson and Tennis player Bianca Andreescu. Not only does it support women in all different sports, but of all nationalities and ethnicities; it is a completely diverse platform, supporting sporting success. In February Nike released an advert entitled ‘Dream Crazier’ featuring Serena Williams as narrator. It opens with Williams stating ‘If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic. If we wanna play against men, we’re nuts. And if we dream of equal opportunity, delusional. When we stand for something, we’re unhinged. When we’re too good, there’s something wrong with us’ highlighting just some of the many stereotypical comments made about women in sport. It’s an advert than not only highlights the difficulties women face in challenging stereotypes in sport, but also resonates with women in all professions around the world who have faced similar prejudices in their own lives. Many women have been called ‘crazy’ just for aiming for success, something that is engrained in all members of the human race, not just our male counterparts.
This year has seen some amazing sporting successes. The England Women’s Football Team has finally gained some of its extremely deserved recognition, Simone Biles has been declared the greatest gymnast in history having gained another medal at the World Championships in Germany last week, and Dina Asher-Smith has recently been entitled the fastest British Woman in recorded history after winning gold in 200m in the World Championships in Doha this year. Nike have aimed to support women in sport not only through its global campaigns, but also through diversifying their designs, not only focussing on trend, but also on comfort, to ensure that women are being fully supported and aided by their sportswear too. Andy Champion, Nike’s EVP and CFO stated that Nike “aim to redefine and expand the definition of sport, that is with a sharp focus on women. Similar to the strong returns we’re seeing from having doubled our investment in innovation, we see the potential for asymmetrical returns, by editing and more aggressively shifting resources towards our Women’s business”.
With the launch of Nike AF1 Shadow trainer this month, Nike are emphasising their support of strong women, not only in sport, but in all walks of life and all professions. In keeping with the theme of change in 2019, the inspiration for the Shadow ‘is characterised by double design details and layered pieces, [and] comes from thinking about women who are setting examples in their communities as forces of change. It's about boldly pushing the foundational elements of excellence and distinction to the forefront — an elegant overemphasis.’ These new trainers aim to support women by knowing what we want and how we like to express ourselves; ‘Air Force 1 Shadow is a great example of how we channel desire and create new expressions through silhouette, shape and details, something unique but still familiar each season’ and each individual woman.
Nike have made important steps forward for women this year using their internationally renowned brand as a platform for progressive change. Not only have they shown that women in sports need more recognition, they have highlighted the need for fashion to mirror women’s successes, personalities and autonomy too. This year has been great for female empowerment, with many movements, celebrities and political movements being focussed on equality for women and the importance of celebrating their successes too. This support and autonomy is something that Isabella Lè Milliae also aims to achieve. It is backed by two strong women, who run the business as well as create the designs made to give a feeling of autonomy and strength to each of its customers. This move towards supporting women in their journey towards success is an important step forward both in society and fashion, and a trend that will hopefully continue long into 2020 and the next decade.