Sneakers and streetwear have traditionally been male dominated where retail spaces are concerned. But Abby Albino and Shelby Weaver are aiming to change that with Makeway, their aptly named shop putting the focus on women who love sneakers.
“There are a lot of barriers for womxn who are sneaker lovers, and as sneaker lovers ourselves, we wanted to hopefully create a space that addresses the barriers,” Albino says.
Some of the barriers she describes include lack of sizing, representation from the decision-making level and, specifically for Canadians, a lack of accessibility.
“Sneaker culture has been a very male-dominated industry for so long, and we’re excited to break those barriers,” explains Albino, adding that, “Sneaker culture can sometimes be very intimidating, and we want womxn to feel welcome and that they belong.”
So far they have had an overwhelmingly positive response from not just women, but the sneaker community in general.
“Many have expressed how overdue a place like Makeway is, and we couldn’t agree more,” says Albino.
When it comes to what they choose to stock, the main focus is on representation and ensuring consumers can see themselves in the products they carry.
“We’re proud to offer so many products that are made by BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, people of colour] womxn, both local and global,” Albino says. “For example, we have various skin care brands made by local BIPOC womxn, and our BIPOC consumers know that those products were made to address their specific skin type.”
In terms of opening up in the midst of a pandemic, both Albino and Weaver say they knew they were going to have challenges but they were up for it.
“We always said, if we can launch a brick and mortar sneaker boutique in a pandemic, we can do anything,” says Albino. “In a sense, the lockdown has allowed us to focus our energy on our online store, and we’re grateful to see the continued support from our community.”
Once the lockdown ends, shoppers can expect a welcoming, inclusive in-store experience at Makeway’s brick and mortar location within Stackt Market on Bathurst Street.
“One pillar of Makeway is to provide a space for the female sneaker community to be seen and celebrated,” Albino says. “It’s been great to see womxn feel seen through Makeway’s product assortment.”
For those looking to get their hands on the streetwear products and sneakers, the online store is accessible at shopmakeway.co. And once in-store shopping is allowed, customers can head over to 28 Bathurst St., Unit 2-101 to see the retail space come to life.