Titi Finlay is a Scottish creator and artist residing in London, UK and currently holds the position of Social Media Manager at LacedHQ, the UK's top resale sneaker platform. Titi has built a following through her artwork, impressive sneaker collection and advocacy for women's empowerment in the sneaker and fashion industry.
You received a lot of recognition recently for a quote “We don’t need women's exclusives. We need inclusive sizing.” and we couldn’t agree more that the sneaker world definitely has some catching up to do when it comes to inclusivity. Besides inclusive sizing, what are five things you think brands could do to make footwear more inclusive for everyone?
Make everything unisex. Get rid of women's exclusives. The brands right now are giving women different (often times worse) shoes but we want the same shoes the men do. There's no need to keep styles separate.
Innovate with sneaker models. Shoes like the new Nike Fly Ease Go which is a "hands free" shoe make cool sneakers more accessible for people with disabilities. I'm curious to see how they develop styles around that to give everyone a cool shoe.
Storytelling should be diverse. We're always seeing the same women or men in campaigns. It's always a celebrity or popular hypebeast but what about the mum in Manchester with a huge Airmax collection?
Increase representation of African Americans in sneaker media. There's no denying that most of this culture comes from black culture and it should be represented as such.
Reconsider how you run gifting programs. Similar to point 3, it's always the same celebrities receiving pairs from brands. I understand the influence big celebs have but brands should also seed to the creators and collectors actually into the products.
Bonus thought: Overall there's too much gatekeeping from brands but also the community as a whole, telling young people they can't be into Jordans because they didn't see him play or telling skaters they can't rock SB's. None of that matters. If you like the shoes, that's what matters!
We definitely need to talk about your “Power to the Female” AM90 which was so purposeful and amazing! What were five things you wanted to achieve with this collaboration or get out of the experience?
I wanted to make a shoe for the female sneaker community to celebrate and enhance the conversation around the topic of women in sneakers.
I wanted to give other women a platform with the promotion of this shoe. I was lucky enough to be able to collaborate with a lot of my friends and women in the space on some content which I think really helped grow the conversation.
I wanted to make it unisex that anyone could wear. I used the slogan "By women. For everyone" to sum that up and I think it worked well.
I wanted to show people that it wasn't only the big influencers that can create. Hopefully this inspired young up and comers to keep working and show them that anything can happen.
Lastly, this [sneaker design] was a new discipline for me and it was awesome to get my hands dirty and really learn the ins-and-outs of the process.
What are some things you love or dislike about the UK sneaker scene?
LOVE: The Community - I've made so many friends through social sneaker groups in the UK. There's something called Pickup Days where the raffle winners go get their shoes from OffSpring and it's such a fun time meeting everyone, before COVID that was.
LOVE: Sneaker culture really blossomed in the UK so there's a ton of history. For example, it's all Adidas in the North of England but if you go to London everyone loves Air Max's.
LOVE: Lots of small pockets in the UK that you wouldn't expect actually have a dope sneaker scene. Glasgow has Sneaker Laundry, Edinburgh has some wicked skate shops and Dundee has a great sneaker hangout spot even though it's a small town.
DISLIKE: This one isn't so UK exclusive but there is a lot of gatekeeping in the space. We need to be more open and not let the history or the "OG's" keep people out.
You’ve done a great job building the LacedHQ brand on social and helped foster a strong sense of community with the #lacedcommunity. As the Social Media Manager for LacedHQ, what are five tips you can give to a brand or individual trying to build up their community on social?
Create content that people can own themselves. For example, my quotes are content that resonate with others and that they can share on their own stories and feeds.
Have a solidified POV. Have personality and stay true to and support your opinions throughout.
Create something that can be engaged with. Posting polls for people to vote on is fun and builds engagement.
Give a platform to other creatives and showcase their work. The LacedHQ feed is fully on regrams and it's a great way to build relationships and get intro'd to new creators.
Data is everything. Use your insights to see how your content is performing.
Bonus thought: Don't forget to pay attention to the aesthetic of the full feed and not just the individual posts.
Being an advocate for inclusivity in the sneaker industry, who would you say are 5 other people that are really paving the way for change within within the sneaker community/industry?
The Air Vegan - He's a co-creator of the Business of Hype podcast and also runs a platform called FutureVVorld which shares information about how the sneaker industry can be more sustainable and more earth friendly.
_womeninsneakers - Steph who leads the page works for ON Running and on her page showcases everyone from female influencers to designers at the brands that are doing awesome things in sneakers.
Coco Mell - She used to work at ASOS and is now a freelance stylist for sneaker brands. She is really campaigning for black women in the sneaker culture and has been doing clubhouse chats with women in the industry (ex. Jazzy Ray - OG in sneakers)
Arielle (A_ebz) - She's a colour designer for Nike in Portland and has worked on making colourways more inclusive and pushing against women's exclusives and men's exclusives.
Lastly, we need to speak about your puppy! How has having a dog changed your perspective on life?
It's been amazing, like having a therapy dog full time! Maple has really helped with my anxiety throughout COVID. It helps me take my mind off of things and relax.
Having a dog helps maintain a routine. Things like needing to go for 2 walks a day really force you to wake up and start your day.
I try to look through her eyes and see how simple life can be. It's a great way to stay calm and level out.
I think I've become smarter and more productive thinking about how I use my time for myself and with Maple.