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The celebrity touch

Looking at a growing trend for well-known personalities to try their hands at shoe designing.

by Stuart Morgan

Image © Gage Skidmore

The power of celebrity endorsement of an item has long been known and, in many cases, successfully used by companies around the world. A more recent phenomenon, however, is that of celebrities getting involved in the actual design of a range of products. Perhaps the most common item currently being designed by famous people is the shoe, with many seeing such an opportunity as an additional outlet for their creativity.

Image © Eva Rinaldi

Taylor Swift

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of the well-known faces turning to the design of footwear are from the music or movie industries. There are, however, also a number of models, sports stars and business people who have either launched their own branded collections or are working with an established manufacturer in some form of joint venture.

Image © rodrigoferrari

Kanye West

The majority of celebrities involved in shoe design are female. These include Kim Kardashian who, with sisters Khloe and Kourtney, launched her first shoe collection in 2013. Styled the ‘Kardashian Kollection’ it includes a range of shoes described as ‘dramatic, sexy heels, show-stopping wedges, stunning flats and chic boots’. Madonna’s footwear designs, as would be expected, have featured lots of leather, studs, stilettos and over-the-knee boots inspired by the singer's onstage costumes and everyday style. After starring in the TV show ‘Sex and the City’ for some years, Sarah Jessica Parker turned her attention to designing her own collection of high-heel shoes.

Image © Gage Skidmore

Scarlett Johansson

Some of the stars that have entered the world of footwear have done so to help a favourite charity. For instance, Angelina Jolie co-created red and black patent leather heels with panels of nude mesh and sculpted heels resembling curls of smoke. Ms Jolie wore these shoes during the promotional tour for the film ‘Maleficent’, and arranged for profits from sales to benefit a charity for orphans with which she is closely involved. Another star with helping others in mind is Scarlett Johansson, who helped to design a collection of shoes to raise money for an ovarian cancer research institute.

Image © Shawn Ahmed

Pharrell Williams

Not just the women

Two of the male celebrity shoe designers currently attracting attention are singers. Kanye West has been collaborating on trainer designs since 2007, when the first Nike Air Yeezy was developed. In 2012, some 5,000 pairs of several Yeezy 2 colour variants were released. The rapper’s most recent work, the Yeezy Boost, has been released by adidas as part of a new collaboration.

Fellow American Pharrell Williams is also working with adidas and recently helped to reinvent their classic Original Superstar shell toe shoe by launching it in no less than 50 different colours. This follows the previous success of his collaboration on the classic Stan Smith shoe.

The number of celebrities using their imagination in the world of footwear is impressive. Other well-known names on the list include Victoria Beckham, Kate Bosworth, Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Carlos Santana, Jessica Simpson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Swift and Ivanka Trump.

These items of footwear are selling – some far better than others. It is, therefore, apparent that the power of celebrity is alive and kicking, and this is evidenced by the growing number of footwear producers who are willing to be linked with these personalities.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 46 of the November 2015 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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