Kids’ Buzz: Gigi & Zaza, Reebok, Keen

Being Originals
Big-name brands may dominate the kids’ category, but newcomer Gigi & Zaza is going against the grain.

The online boutique, which launched in March, stocks a curated selection of mostly handmade baby and children’s shoes sourced from Europe. Founders Tiziana Indelicato and Gina Rizzo, both women’s fashion industry vets, search Italy, Spain and France for small factories offering unique styles that are not widely distributed, even overseas.

“[For us], it’s not about big brands,” said Indelicato (above, left, with Rizzo). “These are pieces for parents who want their kids to have a strong sense of individuality.”

Styles include crocheted Mary Jane shoes, Liberty-print booties, striped canvas high-top sneakers, denim sandals and floral peep-toe flats from little-known labels, among them Chech, Puchitos, Dondup and Mules at Home. Indelicato and Rizzo have also created their own collection under the Gigi & Zaza name, featuring vintage ballet flats, Venetian velvet leisure shoes, eco-friendly baby booties and more. “If we feel there are little gaps, we create our own branded styles, so we have a well-rounded offering,” said Rizzo.

Even before starting the boutique, New York-based Indelicato would travel overseas, returning home with a suitcase filled with shoes she had bought for her kids. The trips sparked the idea for Gigi  & Zaza. “What’s missing [in the U.S.] is a strong point of view,” she said. “If people are looking for commercial, mass-produced shoes, they can go anywhere to buy them. But there aren’t many options for moms who want something a little different.”

And while typical European kids’ shoes retail for $70 or more in the States, shoes at Gigi & Zaza average around $50. “We want people to have access to nice shoes with European styling but that don’t cost a fortune,” Indelicato said.

As Gigi & Zaza gains a following, its founders plan to branch out into other categories, including clothing and accessories. In addition, the two hope eventually to turn their budding footwear brand into a wholesale endeavor, targeting independents. “We want to make sure we preserve the exclusivity of the product,” Indelicato said, “so our strategy would probably be more focused on the small boutiques.”

Posh Tots
Hicksville, N.Y.-based footwear firm MeyeWorld has signed a licensing deal with Beeposh LLC to produce a full line of kids’ shoes inspired by Beeposh’s popular apparel, stuffed toys, room décor and accessories. Set to soft launch for fall ’10 with slippers and boots, the line will be segmented into three parts: Beeposh for toddler, youth and tween girls up to a size 7; Weeposh for the baby segment, sizes 1 to 4; and Beeodd for toddler and youth boys up to a size 3. Spring ’11 will see the addition of flip-flops, wedges and sandals. All the shoes will feature the whimsical, brightly colored prints for which Beeposh has become known. Retail prices will range from $12 to $35, with distribution focused on mid-tier department stores, boutiques and footwear specialty retailers.

Winging It
Jeremy Scott is bringing his Adidas Originals by Originals collection, launched in spring ’09, to the kiddie crowd. The avant-garde apparel designer has taken one of the collection’s most popular adult styles, the JS Wings high-top sneaker, and shrunk it down. The white-and-gold shoe, available in a Velcro-strap crib shoe version for newborns (at right), as well as a lace-up high-top for infants, features a whimsical angel wing motif. Scheduled to hit stores on Aug. 1, the shoes will retail from $50 to $60.

Energy Boost
Reebok has added children’s styles to its ZigTech lineup. Introduced for adults in March, ZigTech is a running and training shoe with a zigzag-shaped bottom made of lightweight foam. The bottom is designed to absorb the impact of a heel strike and return energy along the length of the shoe to help propel the wearer forward. This results in less strain, enabling kids to run and play longer, the company said. Available in grade-school sizes 3 1/2 to 7, the ZigTech retails for $70 at stores including Kids Foot Locker and Finish Line.

Puddle Play
Keen has introduced a series of rubber rainboots for kids. Built on the Portland, Ore.-based brand’s Coronoda vulcanized rubber bottom, the boots feature colorful prints in motifs such as florals, geckos and spiders. A microfleece lining provides extra warmth, and a removable molded footbed offers a more precise fit. The boots are available in infant, kids’ and youth sizes, depending on style. Slated for delivery in July, the rainboots will retail from $45 to $55.

Toy Time
Hackensack, N.J.-based SG Footwear has landed the licensing rights to produce a line of kids’ shoes inspired by the classic toy brand Lego. Due to hit stores next spring and priced from $10 to $30, the collection (at right) will encompass all categories, including sneakers, casual shoes and rainboots, and will feature a variety of Lego graphics and prints. In other news, SG begins the rollout of its new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line this month. The sneakers, fashion casuals, flip-flops, winter boots and slippers for children and adults will retail for $10 to $20.

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