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Birdies Taps Two Women in Charge to Help Launch Its First Lace-Up Sneakers

Birdies has reached two firsts today.

On Tuesday, the female-founded footwear brand — which launched in 2015 and is best known for its comfortable flats and slides — debuted its first lace-up sneakers.

The line includes the Roadrunner, a retro-inspired silhouette priced at $130 that is made in premium leather, nylon and suede across five colorways . The Cardinal, which retails for $140, is a traditional court sneaker made in premium leather and suede, also in five colorways. Both styles are now available on Birdies.com and in Birdies locations.

To mark the event, the brand also introduced its first integrated campaign. It stars activist and author Blair Imani and celebrity interior designer Brigette Romanek — two women who are running their own respective businesses.

Birdies co-founder and CEO Bianca Gates said the idea behind the campaign was to celebrate the way the sneakers can fit into the lives of busy women.

“When we were thinking of launching our new lace-up styles into the world, we really thought about the purpose of why we designed these sneakers,” Gates told FN. “It was less about women running outside with a performance shoe, but rather fashionable comfort shoes that women are just generally living in and being a boss in. So, we came up with the idea of our new campaign ‘What Are You Running?’ in order to inspire others to take control of their lives by highlighting these women in charge.”

Debuting on Birdies’ digital marketing channels and in-store today, the campaign features Imani and Romanek sporting styles from the collection in the environments where they hold their power.

Brigette Romanek Birdies campaign
Brigette Romanek wears the Roadrunner.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Birdies

Romanek, one of the most sought-after interior designers with a star-studded clientele list, told FN that what makes her feel empowered is an entire ensemble from head to toe. “Complete with a power lipstick, power nails and, of course, a power shoe,” she said.

Asked about the women who inspire her, Romanek said her list is endless. “Nicole Avant, Nina Simone, Gwyneth Paltrow, my grandmother and, most importantly, my mother. She was a single mom who was told to settle and not wish for too much. If she would have listened to that, both my life and hers would be very different right now. I applaud her for believing in herself, which in turn pushed me to believe in myself. She is everything to me,” said Romanek.

As for Imani — an award-winning educator, historian and author of the bestselling book “Read This to Get Smarter” — colorful monochromatic looks and comfort make her feel empowered. “The first speaks for itself but the second one bears a more detailed description,” Imani told FN. “So much of feminine fashion involves us making ourselves uncomfortable in order to be viewed as professional or sexy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The idea that women are allowed to exist as both comfortable and respected is revolutionary, and Birdies is materially shifting culture in that direction while crucially not participating in the labor exploitation and reckless environmental harms of fast fashion.”

Imani added that many women inspire her, such as thought leaders Aja Barber and Emma Dabiri, as well as “my business partners Alexis Androulakis and Christina Basias and the brilliant team I’ve had the honor of working with as a platform educator at @Feminist, including Ky Polanco, Aisha Burrowes, Amanda Bjorn and Lex Chandra.”

Blair Imani Birdies campaign
Blair Imani wears the Cardinal.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Birdies

In support of the campaign, celebrity stylist Sophie Lopez has created a style guide for the brand that includes tips and inspiration on styling the new sneaker collection.

According to Gates, the new sneakers styles were developed over the last five years based on feedback the brand has received from customers and fans. “As we moved through the pandemic, our customers were going for more walks and wanted a shoe that could sustain the outdoor elements, as well as have a shoe they could wear with dresses and jeans,” Gates said. “We thought we would combine the comfort and fashion qualities we are known for into these new laceups.”

Gates noted that the brand kept its signature comfortable footbed and added an internal wedge inside the shoes to give women extra lift and support. “This makes their legs look even more beautiful in our shoes,” Gates added.

Looking ahead, Gates remains focused on the sneaker launch for the first half of the year but teased that more is on the way in the coming months. “We have developed a lot of great new silhouettes that we’ll be launching later this year with a lot of new materials based on the feedback from our community.”

Blair Imani Birdies campaign
Blair Imani wears the Roadrunner.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Birdies
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