Everything good must come to an end — or so goes the logic behind most celebrity fashion lines. They can be red-hot one minute, but destiny eventually fades them out, through the expiration of a licensing deal, a career transition and so on.
Not so for Katy Perry. When the singer and entrepreneur learned of the July 2021 bankruptcy filing of Global Brands Group, the holding company that served as co-owner and manufacturer of footwear brand Katy Perry Collections, she took matters into her own hands.
“I was faced with the choice of fading away into obscurity with this line that I have worked so hard on for five years and that is just kind of coming out of its infancy and finding its strengths. Or just leveling up,” Perry told FN in a phone interview last week. “I just decided to take complete ownership and level up, find great partners, develop my team and put to practice all of the education I have learned — and just be that CEO boss bitch that I want to be.”
Perry’s first solo footwear effort comes today with the brand’s relaunch and debut of its spring-summer ‘22 collection, a line that maintains the playful, feminine and artistic essence captured when the brand first launched in 2017.
“I’m a California girl, I mean it when I say it and when I sing it, so it’s a combination of spring florals — very delicate flowers and prints —and gingham, (with) everything pastel, because (it) is just so sweet to me and soothing,” said Perry. The collection also includes a sun, sand and beach theme, which includes a gold shell-shaped kitten heel, a playful twist that has been a signature of the brand since its launch.
Working with footwear pro Selena McCartney (who has served as the brand’s designer director since its inception), Perry is exploring ways to keep the line at its affordable price points (flip-flops for spring-summer ’22 start at $39, platforms are $129 on the high end) while looking back to some of the more adventurous creations that the duo has dreamt up over the past five years. “When we were working with a bigger company, there were different requests,” Perry recalled. “We would create all of these amazing and insane shoes and of course some of them were unrealistic because of the costs and the minimums. But it doesn’t mean that they weren’t good ideas. I want to be an option for personality shoes at a great price point.”
With a new production team in place, Perry has zeroed in on the intersection of clever design, key price points and a comfortable fit, working with her fit testers to achieve what she called “functional and fun fashion from the first step.” She has even incorporated her own boots in her Las Vegas residency #PLAY, a pair in white with scalloped details that she wears in the first act. “I don’t have time to break in a shoe, so when we have fit models in the room and I’m like a psychotherapist going, ‘How does this make you feel?'” she said with a laugh. “I’m super sensitive, I don’t have a huge pain threshold.”
Katy Perry Collections’ wholesale accounts still include Nordstrom, Macy’s and QVC, but the brand will be exploring new business opportunities with the relaunch. The music artist acknowledges the risks of taking on the brand as a solo act (financial terms of the deal with Global Brands Group weren’t disclosed), but “big risk can also equal big reward. It’s a pivotal moment to really roll the dice,” she said.
And Perry is not the only star-turned-shoe-mogul who is betting on the power of self ownership: Last year, Jessica Simpson and her mother Tina negotiated to buy the outstanding shares of her namesake footwear brand from Sequential Brands Group Inc., taking the billion-dollar brand into their own hands.
With a market and spring season that looks to be both booming and uncertain, Perry said she is looking to create trends instead of piggybacking on them, meaning we might not see the brand go all-in on the the Y2K frenzy (“It’s fun, it’s sexy and cute, but do I think it’s lasting? No,” Perry quipped) or the glitz mania (“I feel like I have done more than a decade of that”) of current and upcoming seasons.
Instead, Perry said she is looking to build out personality shoes that might pair well with classic pieces she has begun to collect within her own wardrobe.
“At the end of the day I am always going to be playful, I will never take myself too seriously,” she said. “For me the strategy on fashion is like keep people on the edge of their seat, don’t let them be able to pin you down and figure you out and call what’s next for you.”