Meet the female 'sneakerheads' of Toronto and see why they are calling for shoe companies to step up

Jamila Husbands's black and copper Nike Foamposite sneakers embody exactly why she and her friend Kiah Welsh started their blog, she.lace.

Many companies don't make popular sneakers in women's sizes, forcing some to wear kid's or men's shoes

Jamila Husbands and Kiah Welsh started their blog she.lace after years of feeling unrepresented in sneaker culture and boutiques. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

Jamila Husbands's black and copper Nike Foamposite sneakers embody exactly why she and her friend Kiah Welsh started their blog, she.lace. 

She's been forced to wear kids' sizes because the shoes "don't come in women sizes," she said, pointing them out to Matt Galloway in an interview on CBC's Metro Morning. "These are mainly catered towards men." 

Welsh was amped for the Puma Coogi sneaker launch back in May — but as always, knew she would have to settle for a child-sized pair too.

"It’s about being fierce in any situation,” said Kiah Welsh, she.lace co-founder. (shelace.com)

"I had to settle for a [men's] size 9 and the guy at the store told me I had to double sole my shoes," said Welsh. Even after spending $180 on the pair, she had to stuff the sneakers to make them fit, she remarks. 

"I just don't feel represented," added Husbands.

"Sneakers just speak for themselves," said Jamila Husbands, she.lace co-founder. (shelace.com)

Their blog she.lace is their answer to the female sneaker struggle. 

"It's not just about sneaker collectors or 'sneakerheads,'" explained Husbands, it's more about women's equality. 

"We just want women to feel comfortable going into sneaker stores and boutiques and see themselves reflected on the shelves," she said.

Part of their push is to get more women designing sneakers. Welsh credits Nike and Puma's "Careaux" line designed by Dutch illustrator Caroll Lynn but, "there needs to be more."

Husbands and Welsh have both have had to stuff their shoes with extra sole inserts or tissues to fit into men's sized sneakers. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

Both women call themselves "sneakerheads" — they keep some pairs of their shoes pristine in boxes, only to crack them open for a blog or a brag. 

"I'm going on 40-plus pairs," said Welsh. 

For Husbands, the love affair with sneakers started in Grade 2.

"I had my pair of Ken Griffey Jr.'s and I loved them," she said.

The blog isn't just for "sneakerheads", the cityscapes draw in fans of urban photography, not just footwear. (shelace.com)

The fashions have evolved over the years, but their love for laces has always been driven by comfort and style.

"I love how you can express yourself with them. You can wear a very basic outfit and the sneakers speak for themselves," said Husbands.

Their Instagram page is peppered with stylish photos featuring sneakers in front of cityscapes.

One contributor to the blog said sneakers "are an extension of your personality."

Husbands and Welsh point out that shoe lines tend to be dedicated to male athletes, which often bleeds into the sneaker industry as a whole.

She.lace operates in anticipation of a feminist shoe revolution — it's set up like a forum for women to share stories about their sneakers. 

The idea is to shake up the industry and show that women love and wear sneakers just as much as men.

Jamila Husbands's black and copper Nike Foamposite sneakers embody exactly why she and her friend Kiah Welsh stared their blog, she.lace. 1:55

About the Author

Ali Chiasson

Reporter, CBC Toronto

From teleprompter to Associate Producer, Ali Chiasson worked many desks at CBC News Network before stepping in front of the cameras at CBC Toronto. Ali covers a wide range of breaking and feature stories and has a special knack for people profiles. Off the clock, Ali is happiest walking through Bloordale with headphones on, picking through local produce markets, sipping bubble tea and snapping pics of street art.

With files from Metro Morning