Everyone wants Cardi B to wear their shoes, and Dee Ocleppo is no exception.
“I was listening to her new album and thinking, ‘She would love my pink bottoms,'” Ocleppo told FN yesterday at the NYC launch of her new namesake accessories collection, a direct-to-consumer line of shoes and bags that she is selling on her website. “Cardi B needs to do a song about this color.” The rapper catapulted to fame last year after releasing a hit song (“Bodak Yellow”) that praised Christian Louboutin’s red lacquered soles.
The model-turned-designer and entrepreneur (and wife of Tommy Hilfiger) also said that the bright pink shade is her signature. “This has been my color all along—all of my bags were lined in this pink,” said Ocleppo, who has dubbed the hue Power Pink. “I call it something else — there’s another word in between there, which we all know what it is. This color has always reminded me of feminine strength. And it’s fun.”
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Color and feminism aside, the real focus for Ocleppo in creating the collection has been the age-old question of how to perfect sourcing and production of the line (which includes women’s shoes and bags, plus men’s shoes) while maintaining a reasonable price point. All of the pieces — 60 styles initially, with additional items released each month — are made in Italy at factories and facilities that have allowed her to maintain a level of quality in materials and construction. Styles presented on the site will also be accompanied by images showing how that specific shoe was actually made in the factory. “It helps to tell the story to the consumer,” she said. “It’s fascinating to me, when you go to buy a shoe, or even a kitchen item, to see how it is made.”
Men’s and women’s footwear ranges from $165 to $420, and handbags are priced from $190 to $450 — price points that are new to Ocleppo. “When I did my last line I would receive DMs (on Instagram) saying, ‘Oh I love that bag, but I can’t afford it.’ And they were expensive to produce. I feel like now we are right in the middle, right where we need to be. It’s like Goldilocks, and it’s just right,” said Ocleppo, referring to her previous line of luxury handbags that included a Bag Bar customization concept (which she sold to Kate Spade in 2016). “And we were lucky enough to be able to align ourselves with these factories in Italy.”
Ocleppo said she also listened to her established customers in choosing the individual styles to design and produce. “(They are) coming from feedback that I received from trunk shows and feedback from social media. You can now get that immediate feedback from consumers, which has been missing for a long time in the marketplace,” she said. “Comfort is key, (but) everyone is different. So we’ve tried to offer an array of heel heights and sizes and styles.”
And while she is new to the men’s market, Ocleppo said that having four sons and a husband has helped her with feedback on the modern but classic sneaker and dress shoe styles included in the line. And there’s even a shoe dedicated to Tommy: “Personally, for men I love a buckle shoe,” said Ocleppo, referring to her monk strap styles. “When I first met Tommy, he didn’t have a lot of buckle shoes, so I bought him a pair of monk straps. Whenever he asks me what shoes he should wear I say the buckle!”