Why Designer Angelique Joseph Changed the Message Behind These Naturalizer Boots

Today, Naturalizer launched a new shoe collaboration that draws attention to the importance of voting.

Together with Rebecca Lee Funk, founder of activist network The Outrage, the Caleres-owned brand debuted the limited-edition Callie heeled boots that spell out the words “VOTE” in capital letters on the toes.

The boots are available now on Naturalizer.com and The-Outrage.com for $150, with a portion of proceeds going to She Should Run, a nonprofit that supports women running for office.

Naturalizer Vote Boot
The Naturalizer Callie VOTE boot features a hand-painted design by artist Kiersten Essenpreis.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Naturalizer

Numerous brands have recently unveiled similar merchandise encouraging people to head to the polls, but Naturalizer has gone a step further and says it wants to “empower women everywhere to speak up and demand change.”

Those could be empty words. But VP of global design Angelique Joseph is proof that the brand believes in giving women a voice.

Angelique Joseph
Angelique Joseph, VP of global design at Naturalizer.
CREDIT: Courtesy

During a virtual roundtable conversation today with Funk and the leaders of She Should Run and the voting rights advocacy group Fair Fight, Joseph revealed that during the concepting process for the “VOTE” boots, she began to have personal reservations.

“Initially, the boots represented the 100-year anniversary of women gaining the right to vote,” said Joseph. “But I had a problem with going out there and saying that this anniversary marks the pathway to voting, because we know that’s not true for all women.”

While the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted women the right to vote on Aug. 18, 1920, it wasn’t until the Voting Rights Amendment of 1965 that women of all races and ethnicities were finally able to exercise that right.

Joseph recalled that she felt the need to speak up about her concerns, despite the possibility of negative repercussions. “I was fearful of backlash, so I was apprehensive about standing up, but the message didn’t sit well with me,” she said.

Now, the Naturalizer messaging emphasizes the collective power that women have to create change. “It’s important for all of us to join forces, and to get out there and vote and take action,” said Joseph.

For her part, Funk lauded the brand and its willingness to listen to feedback and change the narrative. “We knew going into this celebration of the 100th anniversary that some companies were going to get it wrong,” said Funk. “So I really commend Naturalizer for listening to Angelique.”

Joseph said she found the confidence to speak up from her mother. “And also, I have to look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day,” she said. “I have to be comfortable with what I have done.”

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