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Lena Dunham the Sneakerhead? The "Girls" Star On Her Surprising New Collaboration

Yesterday around 7:30am, Lena Dunham was in desperate need of a diversion.

Just before starting rehearsal for the final episode ever of her hit HBO show, "Girls," she remarked, “I have four more acting days, so I figured that it was a good week to launch a sneaker, if only to distract myself from the terrible pain of the show ending.”

In the midst of one door closing, the multi-hyphenate Dunham has opened another, much more surprising one:

Today, she is releasing a sneaker that she and best friend and illustrator Joana Avillez designed for skateboard footwear brand Lakai. Her high-top shoe features Avillez’s quirky illustrations of ladies riding bikes, typing on laptops, and dancing.

There are also playful, random doodles reminiscent of those that high school girls draw on each other’s Converses between classes.

What’s more, all proceeds from the sales of Dunham’s Lakai sneaker will go toward Young Women Empowered, an organization dedicated to fostering women’s empowerment via creativity and freedom of speech.

"I said, let's design something that celebrates slightly off-beat women, adventure, and creativity," Dunham says.

"I wanted this sneaker to be super playful and something that, from a distance, looked very casual but then when you got close it was almost like toile wallpaper. You get close and realize there are a million fascinating little women on the shoe, which is sort of a metaphor for the Young Women Empowered. I saw these teenage girls and thought I knew what they were about and then I got closer and there’s some extreme creative magic happening there."

For Dunham, part of the creative magic she cultivated within herself during this process came from a lifetime fascination with both skate culture and over-the-top footwear. She’d always gone to her friend, director, and avid skateboarder Spike Jonze, for the latest and greatest in that counterculture world, and it was at his behest that she collaborated on a shoe for Lakai.

As she says, "It was a real labor of love. I have a secret obsession with skate shoes and skate culture, even after having literally never gotten on a skateboard. I told Spike Jonze about my love for skate shoes and he said ‘you can totally design one!'"

Jonze was the one who put her in touch with Lakai — he is, as it happens, one of the company’s early investors.

Once the design process got rolling, Dunham drew inspiration from a trek she once went on in search of a very special pair of Vans.

"In the early '00s, Luella Bartley designed a limited-edition collection of Vans that were pink-and-white, and I remember going down to the Lower East Side to one of those super cool, scared-to-go-into sneaker stores to hunt them down," she says.

"It was a huge, formative part of my identity, so, Luella Bartley, I'm giving you full credit for this shoe concept. I’m not trying to steal it, but just honor it, and you."

Dunham wore Lakai sneakers for six months before actually producing her own, testing out the look and feel and figuring out different ways to introduce this skate brand to a wider audience of style-conscious women.

"I was trying to personify that world we try to create through our online publication, Lenny, in the shoes, appealing to girls that are into everything from pink hair to macramé," she says.

"My greatest dream is to appeal to my friends like Allison Williams — she loves to wear more subtle clothes, like a Wolford bodysuit and a really simple skirt. I want her to dress that way but wear these sneakers, too, and say ‘I feel great in these.’ In other words, these aren’t just for the eccentric girl who wears pigtails."

Celebrating eccentricity is certainly one of Dunham's best causes, especially when it comes to fashion and shoes in particular. "I'm really into those fuzzy Rihanna slides right now," she says.

"If I see fur, an illustration, a color that wouldn’t normally be on your foot, it will be in my closet. It’s like the rainbow connection inside my shoe closet."

Doodles and all, her new Lakai sneakers certainly fit the bill.

More From Vogue:
• Lena Dunham Embraces the Cheap Thrill of Funny Footwear on the CFDA Red Carpet
• Lena Dunham Is Launching Lenny Books, Delighting Book Clubs Everywhere
• The Lena Dunham Guide to Meditation

• Why Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke’s Photoshop-Free Lingerie Shoot Matters

Photo Credit: Getty Images