Well-heeled music fans line up for some Snoopafly sneakers

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The Independent US

You'd think Snoop Dogg, Carlos Santana and Gwen Stefani would earn quite enough money from their pursuits in popular music. But they, and a clutch of other music celebrities, are also now working furiously to launch their own signature footwear labels.

Anyone who has walked in to a sports shoe shop in the past 15 years knows there is nothing new about the association between makers of trainers and basketball stars such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. The musicians, though, appear to be trying something different - not merely offering their name to an established shoemaker, but actually launching the shoes themselves.

Thus Snoop Dogg has a whole range of casual footwear - the Snoopa-doopa, the Snoopafly - launched by his Doggy Biscuitz brand. Gwen Stefani's apparel line is named after her hit album L.A.M.B., and includes a fancily adorned pair of trainers retailing for about $150 (£86) in the US.

Carlos Santana is not just a legendary guitarist from San Francisco. He's also a line of women's shoes - offering stylish numbers with nods to the latest trends in cork and rope soles, platforms and metallic finishes.

Jennifer Lopez has been pushing her J-Lo footwear for a few years. As for the singer Jessica Simpson, she's so gung-ho about her new line of (somewhat clunky) shoes and boots that she showed up at the most recent convention of the World Shoe Association in Las Vegas to plug them.

"We've never seen anything like this before," the head of Skechers USA, Michael Greenberg, told a reporter from Reuters at the convention.

It's no secret that, from a business point of view, celebrities are less like human beings than they are mechanisms for corporate branding. Madonna and the Rolling Stones were recently used to launch a new line of celebrity wines. J-Lo has managed to reinvent herself in any number of guises, from clothing to music to movies. Shoes are just another logical extension of that trend.

The industry professionals at the shoe convention acknowledged that the attraction of celebrity branding is as much to the nascent shoe company hoping for a jump start as it is to the celebrities themselves. New shoe companies want a celebrity sponsor just like a charity does.

But there is also some uncertainty involved in such a partnership. "Celebrities' names are like fashion brands - they go up and they go down," Mr Greenberg said. "Their movie could flop or their sitcom could get cancelled."

Fashion watchers at the Las Vegas show, which attracted 34,000 industry professionals and took up so much space that it was spread out over three giant casino resorts, noted that this year's trends appeared to be away from stiletto heels. Platform soles are big, as are straps and incidental jewellery. High-mounted espadrilles are set to be huge this year.

If that's the case, then the Santana line - made by a company called Brown Shoe - appears to be the biggest winner among the aspiring celebrity brands. The convention also included GPS-enabled footwear and vegan-friendly styles, but they did not appear to carry anything like the same buzz.

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