August 5th, 2013
Meet Emily Hodgson and Emilie Riis, the women behind the Purple Unicorn Planet campaign to get Nike to make trainers that don’t come in pink, yellow or purple.
Once upon a time, no fashion editor would be seen running around Fashion Week in comfy trainers – but oh, times have changed, and it seems like everyone’s got some Air Max 1s to pair with their Miu Miu handbag. But while male customers can pick from an endless palette of colour pathways, women who aren’t into fluro or pink have a considerably limited range to play with. And if you want to get your size 5 feet into a pair of men’s trainers? Forget about it.
This sad state of affairs has driven Emily Hodgson and Emilie Riis to set up Purple Unicorn Planet, their ultimate fantasy sneaker site. Collecting images of mens-size only trainers, Hodgson and Riis are campaigning Nike – their favourite label – to start working on making these sneakers available to girls (their accompanying hashtag is, obviously, #pleasejustdoit).
“Despite what a generation of bad TV sitcoms have told you, we aren’t all the same and we don’t all like the same things,” the pair say on their website. Their focus is primarily on the Nike Lunar Force 1 Fuse Premium and the Nike Air Force line, but there’s now a specific section of their site, Trainer Park, where PUP readers can submit Nike trainers they’re dying to get in their size. Wonderland spoke to the pair to find out more about their campaign.
What made you decide to start Purple Unicorn Planet?
For months we eagerly scoured the internet only to be met with disappointment – all the trainers we were drawn to only seemed to be available in men’s sizes. Even a trip to the ‘sneaker capital’, Miami, was fruitless. After speaking to friends and checking online we realized we weren’t alone – there were women out there from all across the globe who were in search for the perfect pair that weren’t pink, purple or banana yellow. We decided to do something about it.
To get Nike’s attention we knew we had to show them that there are more people out there who share our taste and who are also waiting for some ‘darker’ trainers in girl’s sizes. By creating a fantasy shop and linking our cause to #pleasejustdoit we would use the power of social media and the internet to show interest and demand in the girl’s category.
Why do you think Nike don’t manufacture more trainers in women’s sizes?
We don’t know. PUP has shown them that the demand is out there. Two weeks in and we’ve already hit 30,000 page views, and according to Topsy (online analytics tool) #pleasejustdoit had generated over 138,000 impressions in its first 10 days. We wonder what it will take for them to listen.
Is that just a problem with Nike? Why focus on them?
We love Nike, they offer lots of different styles of trainers. We’re largely drawn to the men’s ones – and as it seems from all the PUP supporters online – so are they. It’s the colourways, unique designs and patterns Nike offer than we’re after. Don’t get us wrong, we like pink, but not on everything. We chose to focus on Nike as it was their men’s trainers we had on our radar.
Some would say, “well, just buy men’s sneakers if you love them so much.” That would be the simple solution, but sadly not one for us. We’re a size 4 and 4.5UK respectively – a lot of the designs aren’t even manufactured in sizes that small as men’s shoes start at a 5.5 UK size. We’ve been recommended the insole trick by other girls. However, if you’re going to spend up to £200 on a pair of trainers they should fit properly. Nike ID is another option, ID is a great tool but ultimately we are after some of the unique patterns, designs and colourways you only get on Nike’s own designs which is not available in their ID tool.
Why do you think there’s a misconception that women aren’t into trainers?
There is a misconception on what women want in a trainer – how it should look, and what colours it should be in. Talking with trainer buyers and designers, they all stressed that the situation used to be worse a couple of years ago – you couldn’t find one single trainer in the women’s range featuring a darker colourway. Now at least you get one or two every once in a while. So progress has happened, but it’s not happening fast enough to keep up with the audience.
What’s the most frustrating thing about not being able to get trainers in your size?
Watching your boyfriend and male friend’s closets fill up with awesome trainers that you can never get your hands on.