Why Disney, Nickelodeon & More Big Names Are Partnering with Ground Up Shoes

A new footwear brand is making its name in sneakers, and it’s getting some help from powerful partners.

Ground Up International Inc., a New York-based licensing company, has for the past five years worked behind the scenes manufacturing shoes for Disney, Nickelodeon, Warner Bros. and other entertainment firms. But in 2021, the company is stepping into center stage, unveiling its first collaboration under its own name.

The debut Ground Up collection with Disney launched for presale on Journeys.com last month and is now hitting stores. It consists of two high-tops featuring Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, and a slip-on decorated with images of the Disney Princesses. Each style is offered in toddler and kid sizes, and retails for $45-$55.

According to Karli Fabric, director of licensing and marketing at Ground Up, the collection was an immediate hit and continues to be among the best sellers across the entire Journeys platform. She aded that based on the success of the launch, Journeys and Ground Up are discussing more collection drops in the near future.

Ground Up Disney Collaboration Sneakers
Ground Up’s first collab collection features Disney Princesses, Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Ground Up

In the meantime, though, Ground Up has a full roster of collaborations planned for 2021 with major entertainment partners, which will be released exclusively with top retailers.

Fabric noted that while the pandemic has negatively impacted some parts of the footwear industry, the interest in shoes featuring beloved characters has never been higher. “People are spending a lot of time at home streaming movies and series, so we’re seeing a lot of demand for licensed products,” she said.

In recent weeks, the company has been fielding new inquiries from major retailers looking to partner on special collections. Fabric said those types of relationships will be a crucial element in its business plan going forward. “We want to work with retailers that carry best-in-class brands,” she said. “We have our own e-commerce site, but working with retailers [for these releases] is a formula that’s been working well for us.”

And though Ground Up eventually aims to grow into a standalone brand offering a wide selection of categories, for now it will continue to focus on product collaborations with the major names in entertainment.

The company also will continue to produce footwear for its licensed partners in entertainment and consumer goods.

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