The celebrity designer, who launched her House of Harlow 1960 footwear line and Winter Kate apparel line two years ago, bowed a new apparel and handbag collection for QVC last month. She’s also back in the limelight as a mentor on the debut season of NBC’s reality competition show “Fashion Star,” alongside Jessica Simpson, John Varvatos and host Elle Macpherson.
“I’m looking forward to America getting to know the journey of these 14 amazing designers,” Richie said.
Richie recently chatted with Footwear News about staying positive, standing out in a celebrity-saturated market and growing House of Harlow into a lifestyle brand.
1. What are the main design inspirations behind your footwear?
NR: For me, each collection starts with music. I have been traveling a lot this year. I went on tour with my husband, [Good Charlotte lead singer Joel Madden], and I really wanted to focus on rock ’n’ roll. [For fall], I did that mostly through the color palette and beading. There are also some very subtle skulls. It was important for me to keep the collection delicate-looking, but with a little bit of an edge. [It has] kind of an understated goth [feel].
2. As a mentor on “Fashion Star,” what kind of advice would you give someone wanting to enter the shoe business?
NR: There [will be] a lot of bumps in the road, but it’s important to not lose sight of who you are as a designer and never forget who your customer is. I try to pay as much attention as I can to customer feedback and really listen to what they want.
3. After more than two years in the footwear market, what have been your biggest challenges?
NR: I view challenges as positives, and it’s all about learning and growing. I face different challenges every season, but that’s what this business is all about. You have to study your craft, and I’m learning every day.
4. What are your thoughts about competing celebrity shoe lines?
NR: I don’t think of it as a competition. I just focus on [my own business], and that’s the healthiest way to go about things. [My name is not on the label because] it is not about me. I want the product to speak for itself and have a customer go after it or stay away from it based on the product, not the name. That’s very important to me.
5. Where do you want to take House of Harlow in the future?
NR: I eventually want to branch out into home furnishings and other areas. Ultimately, this will be a lifestyle brand. I have also thought about [designing shoes for] kids, and it is something that I would absolutely love to do, but I’m not there right now. We are not expanding right now. It’s important for me to focus on every [existing] collection and make it the best version of itself.