Hit Makers: The Future of Celebrity Shoes

Major markdowns, massive bailouts and government stimulus checks failed to jump-start the economy. Could celebrities be the ones to save it?

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Kelly Ripa has a new shoe line.

Photo By Courtesy Photo

Kelly Ripa sneaker for Ryka.

Photo By Courtesy Photo

Likewise, executives at Ryka said the tanking economy hasn’t triggered a major drop in business for their Kelly Ripa line. They attribute that, in part, to lower prices ($69 to $100) and a strong celebrity connection with women.

“Our numbers show that women want both fashion and performance, not only when they hit the gym but all day long,” said Aiyana Holm, brand manager for Ryka. “Our product offerings, which debuted last fall, encompass her whole lifestyle.”

Ryka also has another advantage: Ripa serves as the brand’s spokesperson and stars in all print ad campaigns and online programs, as well as in in-store promotional materials. And when the host of “Live with Regis and Kelly” does on-air fitness segments, she wears the sneakers.

“Kelly embodies our core consumer,” said Holm. “She is relatable and approachable.”

But that’s not the case for all celebrities. In fact, several retailers warned about stocking up on a star that then falls out of public favor — be it from legal run-ins, sex scandals, drug use or outrageous remarks.

Case in point: Paris Hilton. Many industry observers said that since the socialite-turned-reality-TV-star was freed from prison, she’s kept such a low profile that her buzz factor hardly exists — and few young women seek out her line of shoes.

“Her lines are struggling right now because of where she is in her celebrity status,” said Funk. “She is down-trending. We are picky about who we bring in. We want to generate the same buzz that the celebrity is generating.”

No one understands the ups and downs of celebrity lines better than Fraser Ross, owner of the Los Angeles haunt Kitson.

Ross has bought heavily into designer lines from famous faces, but he said there are more pitfalls with them than payouts.

For instance, last year Ross shelled out $100,000 for Victoria Beckham’s dVb denim line. He soon was down on the label when the former Spice Girl refused to make an in-store appearance.

“If celebrities are not behind the line and don’t want to promote it, there isn’t going to be any selling,” he said. “The shoes and clothes won’t sell themselves. [Celebrities] have to get themselves in front of everyone, whether they’re promoting an album, movie or TV show. It’s the same for shoes. ... Too many celebrities are too busy wearing — and then talking about — their Christian Louboutins at events rather than wearing their own brands.”

To that end, Brown Shoe has a comprehensive marketing plan in place to keep Fergie’s sales on track. The company will use a two-pronged approach to its online advertising, in-store signage and events.

For the Fergalicious line, it has created promotional materials depicting the singer as a rock ’n’ roll icon. The campaign for the higher-price line, meanwhile, shows Fergie in a more sophisticated, stylized way. And Brown Shoe also is working on arranging personal appearances for the entertainer.

“But ultimately, the consumer sees the celebrity through their art,” said Rich. “For Fergie, whether she’s on a world tour with the Black Eyed Peas or in the upcoming movie ‘Nine,’ that’s much more powerful than anything. That’s the presence consumers will respond to most.”

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