The Evolution of Women’s Soccer Gear
May 23, 2023
Women’s soccer gear is a newer concept and one Storelli is committed to helping streamline. In the past, women’s soccer gear wasn’t a priority. It was either so feminine it posed risks or a derivative of men’s soccer gear.
The initial problem with women’s soccer gear
Women’s soccer gear has seen huge positive changes in recent years (despite there still being room for improvement). Women’s soccer apparel has become more specific to the player and their needs.
Now in 2023, what can female soccer players expect going forward? What are the changes we aim to complete and what’s necessary to ensure female soccer players have what they need to perform at their best with ultimate safety?
Women have different body shapes and sizes from their hands to their feet. Using men’s gear isn’t the solution anymore. In fact, it’s a hindrance. Women also have different play styles in practice and on the pitch which creates a requirement for differences in soccer gear and protective equipment. Just like a child can’t benefit from the gear an adult wears, women can’t benefit from the gear male soccer players wear.
The history of women’s soccer apparel
Around a century ago, in England, women’s soccer gear consisted of short skirts, high boots, socks, and hats. Skirts (let alone short skirts) don’t provide the protection soccer players need for the sport, nor do they provide any kind of discretion. Boots are also much more difficult to move in when the sport relies on foot agility and running. At this time, the focus was to make sure women still looked feminine. That was more important than offering the proper women’s sports apparel for agility and safety.
In Spain, in the 1950s, female soccer players wore short shorts and long-sleeve shirts. At the time, it was still necessary for them to do their hair in a socially acceptable way. While long-sleeve shirts are an improvement, short shorts were barely better than skirts. They didn’t provide any kind of skin protection or support.
Women began to wear cleats (instead of boots or something else) but, again, cleats were made for men. The first struggle was finding cleats that would fit. The second struggle was wearing cleats that didn’t fit right regardless of sizing because men and women have differently shaped feet and put pressure on them in different ways when playing. But this was the only option. Women had to wear uncomfortable shoes that made injury and poor playing more common.
Eventually, women were able to wear the same soccer gear as men, but this still posed problems. Instead of apparel unique to women, they were given shrunken versions of whatever was initially manufactured for male players. However, women’s bodies are different, as are their play styles and the shapes of their feet. So smaller versions of men’s cleats, for example, weren’t effective or comfortable for women, but it was their only option. Changing the color of a product wasn’t the solution to providing women’s soccer apparel either.
Where we’re at today with women’s soccer gear
One of the biggest, most influential, shifts in women’s soccer apparel happened in 2019 and continues to inspire change. New shirts were made for women’s international teams before the World Cup in France. Instead of wearing smaller men’s uniforms, women were finally able to wear jerseys specific to them.
Women were given kits that weren’t only made specifically for them but were also representative of their nationality. Soccer shirts aren’t just about performance, especially not when competing for the World Cup. They’re also a way for players and fans to show their identity and allegiance. The shirts can become a unifying symbol and a spark for further change in women’s soccer gear.
In terms of cleats, there are now cleats engineered specifically for women. After taking a step back and looking at the anatomy of women’s feet and how they play on them differently than men do, it was found men’s cleats were a terribly poor design for women. The new cleats have lowered silhouettes and collars so they don’t dig into their ankles. They have shorted studs to match how women move on the field.
These changes made cleats more comfortable for women so they could play without thinking about their footwear. The pressure women put on their feet during soccer is properly distributed throughout the outsole.
The right gear instills confidence in any player. Going into an important game feeling like you’re wearing someone else’s uniform is demeaning and uncomfortable. Playing in a unique uniform creates power, a sense of self, and invokes pride.
Women’s soccer gear: 2023 and beyond
There are still improvements to be made, obstacles to go through, and stigmas to break regarding women’s soccer gear. Because changes only started to be made recently, they’re still farther behind than men’s soccer gear. There are still some problems with style, colors, and accessories and some manufacturers believe women still need to wear something that reminds viewers they’re feminine.
Many women take it upon themselves to add femininity to their look when playing if they want but female soccer players are looking to be comfortable and professional so they can be afforded the same respect and support the male teams get.
The changes made toward making better women’s soccer apparel open up space for a wider audience. More women will feel comfortable playing the sport they love, especially important for young female players who need to see their participation in the sport and effort are valued. Check out the women’s soccer gear at Storelli to wear protective, performance-enhancing equipment.