For way too long, the sneaker and streetwear industry mostly were an all-boys club. But thanks to more and more women claiming their rightful spots, things started to change in the last couple of years. Both behind the scenes of brands or stores and on the forefront of IG accounts with thousands of followers, more and more women now move the needle. Federica Petri from Milan, Italy is one of the digital tastemakers that earned a dedicated following on the ‘gram for her tasteful displays of kicks and clothes in recent years. We talked to her about the sneakers in her collection, the relationship between brands and their female audiences as well as what it’s like being a social media influencer in 2020.
Who is Federica Petri? Can you share a couple of things about you and your life with us for a start?
I was born in Milan in 1992, I studied foreign languages and in 2013 I got my first job ever at Nike. I was working in the Milan show-room in the Naviglio Grande district, now closed, and that’s when I started getting interested in the streetwear culture. In 2017 I opened my Instagram profile where I started to post my first outfits just for fun. Month after month I saw a huge rise of interest in my profile, people were getting more and more involved with comments and DMs, asking me info about sneakers and clothing. So I decided to turn this hobby into a project, putting more time and energy in it. The results were crazy, in almost 2 year I got something like 200k followers and many brands started to writing me for collaborations. I worked with Reebok, Mizuno, adidas, Fila, StockX, Tommy Hilfiger, Awlab, Footlocker, JD Sports and Virgin Active. In 2019 I got married, and obviously it was an incredible streetwear-style wedding in collaboration with Nicole Spose (Pronovias Group).
How did your interest in streetwear and sneakers kick off? Was there a particular moment you can pinpoint that made you want to get involved with the culture?
Yes, my interest in streetwear started in 2013 when I joined the Nike family, as my first job ever. I was hired to work at the Milan showroom in the Naviglio Grande district and I was lucky to see every day new sneakers and clothes, and that got me definitely hooked.
Do you remember the first sneaker that got you hooked?
The first sneaker that I purchased was a 2013 Jordan 5 Fire Red Black Tongue. That red midsole instantly attracted my attention. I still smile like the first time every time I wear them.
Is there a particular sneaker model that you would consider your favorite? If so, why this one?
Like many sneakerheads I would answer the Nike Mag, but to be less obvious I would choose the Dave White Air Jordan 1 Wings for the Future Gold. They merge my passion for the U.S.A. and the J1 silhouette. I just love this pair.
How would you describe the sneaker scene in Italy? Is there anything that’s kind of typical -and does that is also reflected in your personal taste?
A lot of the new generation is obviously more about reselling and don’t care really much about style, culture or history. But I think there are also a lot of great people in the sneaker scene here in Italy. For example, I suggest to go check on Instagram two great collectors – @attiliofuocolento and @ancienregime. They put passion and knowledge above everything and these are values that inspire me.
For quite some time, the general approach many brands took to women’s sneakers kind of was “shrink it and pink it”. Do you feel like that’s changing and those labels are trying to put more effort into catering to female audiences?
Yes, I see more and more effort in brands to attract female audiences but also important is the fact that Nike for example is doing great also in let women design sneakers. I think for example of Aleali May and Melody Ehsani’s Jordan 1. I loved also the fact that Virgil Abloh designed the latest J4 Off-White Sail having women in mind and giving some exclusive access only to girls on the SNKRS app also. Good move Virgil, I got them thanks ;)
Being a social media influencer kind of seems like a valid career goal for a lot of people who are into sneakers and streetwear nowadays. As someone with well over 300k social media followers, how do you build and maintain a strong community like that?
Most people think that being an influencer is easy but in reality, it’s really not. It’s a real job and you must invest a lot of time and energies. I try to reply to every comment and every DM and also, I’m always thinking about the next pictures to post and how to make IG stories more interesting so it’s kind of a 24/24h job. But even if it’s quite challenging sometime the amazing feedback I’m getting back from my followers it’s worth it.
In 2020, a lot of traditional business suffered hardships to COVID-19 – while especially online enterprises seemed to thrive. How did the whole situation with lockdowns, social distancing and similar measures affect your profession as a social media influencer?
Yes, even in my case the COVID had an impact, despite being an online job. Some collaborations with brands have been cancelled or postponed, cause most companies had huge losses during the pandemic and they had to adjust their budget. But during the lockdown I felt compelled to do my best to entertain my followers even more, to distract them from this situation we were (and sadly I think we still are) in together.
How would you describe your taste in streetwear? Is there a particular niche or style that you prefer?
I tend to mix streetwear brands with vintage rock band t-shirts. For example, you can often see me wearing Supreme jackets with underneath some Offspring or Blink182 t-shirts. In the last months I’m really getting into tech wear clothing, so I’m wearing mostly military jackets and cargo pants made of special fabrics. They mix really well utility, comfort and style.
In the last decade it seems like streetwear brands been kind of popping up left and right. From your point of view, what makes up a really good streetwear label that’s going to last?
I think it’s a mix of various factor. The first thing is to have a strong identity and values, after that you have to communicate those with your designs and finally you need to do really strong and clever marketing campaigns to let the people know about you and don’t forget you. To do all these three things is really difficult and challenging and require a visionary mindset like the ones of Virgil, Demna Gvasalia, Jun Takahashi or Ronnie Fieg.
How do you see streetwear brands take their female followers into account? Compared to the sneaker industry, is streetwear more or less aware of their female fanbase?
Streetwear brands are realizing that in the last 2/3 years. Their female “fanbase” are growing exponentially, thanks to collaborations of regular fashion brands with streetwear ones like LV/Supreme, Ralph Lauren/Palace, Dior/KAWS and I think we will see more of that in the future. Both the sneaker industry and the streetwear one I think are both well aware of their female fanbase as of now. And that’s a really good thing.
What are your top 3 sneakers right now and what especially do you like about them?
Right now I’m really enjoying the Jordan 1 High OG “Lucky Green”. Nice color, good leather and why not, I also hope they will bring me some luck. Also I’m wearing the adidas Top Ten High “Boba Fett” cause I am an huge Star Wars fan, and the Vans Acer Ni SP Rhude, I just love multicolor shoes!
Do you also have 3 streetwear items that you really like at the moment?
I’m wearing a lot my black Supreme x Fox Racing hoodie, my Fragment x Jordan tee and a catsuit knit from the adidas Ivy Park collection that just dropped.
What does the future for Federica Petri look like? Any exciting plans you can already share with us?
I just hope 2021 will be better of 2020 for all of us, it does not take much really… Regarding me, I just want to keep doing what I’m doing for now, learning, researching and improving days after days. Also I’m preparing some giveaway and other surprises for my followers, so stay tuned ;)
Just want to give Sneakers Magazine readers a kiss, hope you enjoyed my interview.