How One Italian Children’s Shoe Brand Is Making a Comeback in the US

Lelli Kelly is looking to make a comeback.

The Italian children’s brand has signed a licensing agreement with East Providence, R.I.-based North American Shoe Co. to relaunch this coming spring within the U.S. and Canadian markets.

Known for its colorful, hand-embellished girls’ shoes, the 25-year-old brand enjoyed tremendous success in the States following its debut here in 2004. But when Lelli Kelly’s founders, Atilio and Mariella Attilieni, ended their previous distributorship agreement in 2008, the collection mostly disappeared from store shelves.

“The brand has been essentially dormant here for a number of years now, with the exception of a handful of retailers who have been buying the shoes directly from Lelli Kelly in Italy,” said Jon Shapiro, director of sales for North American Shoe, whose portfolio of brands also includes Beeko, Tundra and Foamtreads. “But we feel the timing is right to come back and introduce the brand to a new generation of kids. There is nothing quite like Lelli Kelly in the marketplace today.”

Priced from $49.99 to $69.99, the collection features a mix of fashion-forward styles, including Mary Jane shoes, sandals, high-tops and joggers. A large part of the offering focuses on the brand’s signature embellished canvas product, which features elaborate beaded and sequined designs. “That’s the look that Lelli Kelly is really known for among American consumers,” Shapiro noted.

Lelli Kelly is well known for its colorful embellished canvas shoes.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

To help make the brand’s re-entry into the market as seamless as possible, Shapiro said his company has addressed the key logistical concerns that come with an overseas brand. “We’ll be shipping right from our warehouse on the East Coast and we’re offering an open-stock program for retailers. And we will carry inventory, making it easy for stores to place re-orders.” The company also plans to support retailers with point-of-purchase displays and other marketing materials.

Lelli Kelly’s U.S. retail distribution strategy will target high-end department stores and independent accounts. The collection is being previewed at a number of trade shows this season, including next week’s FN Platform event in Las Vegas. “So far, we’ve had a great response,” Shapiro noted. “Everyone is really excited to hear that the brand is coming back.”

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