The D’Amelio Family Is Coming for Shoes — And Banking on Their Millions of Followers to Make Them Go Viral

It’s easy to miss sisters Charli and Dixie D’Amelio when they walk through the door. They are instantly identifiable to their millions of followers on social media, but on an April morning in Los Angeles, they shuffle into PMC Studios dressed in nondescript sweatpants and hoodies — hoods up — with their faces mostly hidden by masks. Saying little more than a few quick hellos, they hurry to the green room to prepare for another long day as social media celebrities.

In the last week alone, they were in Tokyo and at Coachella. And the day before the shoot, running on little sleep, the duo visited a prison in Lancaster, Calif., with an organization that supports probation reform. Later in the week, they’ll have a sketch review with their head footwear designer to discuss the latest looks for their soon-to-launch shoe line, which they’ve already been wearing frequently — both IRL and on social, of course.

It’s an intense schedule for Charli and Dixie, both of whom describe themselves as more socially awkward and shy than their lives and online personae might suggest.

“Having to be out of my comfort zone all the time can be a little bit difficult,” Charli, 19, says over a zoom call with Dixie, 21, after the shoot. With more than 150 million TikTok followers, the youngest D’Amelio is the second-most-followed person on the platform. Since going viral with dance and lip-sync videos in 2019, she’s partnered with brands like Dunkin’ and Prada, launched her own fragrance, Born Dreamer, and won the latest season of “Dancing With the Stars.” In short, she’s done a lot, especially for a teenage introvert.

Back on set, both sisters emerge in black outfits — Charli in a babydoll dress and Dixie in a tailored set — to match their parents, Heidi and Marc, for a family photoshoot ahead of the launch of their new footwear line. They stretch their backs, massage their limbs and wait for their cue.

When the cameras turn on, the girls are at home. They need little direction as they transform into the D’Amelio sisters from social media that have delighted millions of followers on TikTok. They come alive in the gelled lights, effortlessly contorting their bodies and adjusting their faces to get that perfect shot.

Charli later says she’s spent some time practicing modeling in front of a mirror and researching poses on Pinterest. She’s also gotten plenty of air time on the family’s Hulu docuseries, “The D’Amelio Show,” which follows the daily lives of the family and is in production for its third season. “We just have gotten used to it, I guess,” says Dixie, whose resumé boasts deals with brands like Puma and Valentino, a record deal that has launched a music career and more than 57 million followers on TikTok.

The D’Amelio story speaks to a new age of fame born from social media virality. For some, what the family is doing seems more attainable than climbing up the corporate ladder the old-fashioned way. But making the hype stick? That’s not as easy.

The D’Amelios know this, so they’re seizing the moment. Their latest venture, D’Amelio Brands, will develop and launch a series of products under their name. The goal of the new venture is to lay the framework for a true family business — and a more stable source of revenue than endorsement deals. It will also give them more control over the brands they promote. Separately, the family invests in new companies with its $25 million VC fund, 444 Capital.

First up is footwear, which is set to drop in June, with open early access starting May 18, due to popular demand. The family will continue to release new shoe styles in the following months and will pursue a skincare product launch as well.

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Charli and Dixie D’Amelio. On Charli: D’Amelio Footwear Karyenaa pumps, Brandon Maxwell embellished tee and mini skirt and Kallati and LeVian rings. On Dixie: Self-Portrait knit jacket and cargo jeans, Candy Ice earrings and Anabela Chan ring.
CREDIT: Camraface

“I’m more of a long-term team player,” said Marc, co-founder and CEO of D’Amelio Brands, describing the short-lived and unpredictable cycle of brand endorsement deals as a hamster wheel. “The only way to do that and to guarantee that is to do it yourself.”

This diversification also helps the family avoid becoming too tethered to social media, an arena of mounting instability. TikTok — the platform that catapulted the D’Amelio empire — is currently facing a potential ban by U.S. officials who fear that it could give the Chinese government access to sensitive user data. ByteDance, a Chinese company, owns TikTok.

Marc said he has explored the possibility of purchasing TikTok with a group of investors, but still sees diversifying from the platform as an important step.

“I remember people going viral on Vine, and then all of a sudden, it disappeared. So we definitely look to expand through other platforms and other areas,” Marc said. “We didn’t want to keep our eggs all in one basket.”


Footwear first

When Charli, Dixie and Heidi pose for the first shot, they model the designs the way seasoned entertainers might.

Comfort, they said, was a key focus when it came to the design. Aesthetically, the footwear mostly screams Gen Z, especially the bright pink, metallic blue and graffiti-print styles. Others, like a black heel with an ankle strap (Heidi’s favorite) have a more mature look.

“The three of us have different styles, but they do have some overlap,” said Heidi, who hopes the line will cater to a variety of generations and preferences.

The first line of women’s shoes includes seven styles and 28 SKUs, including combat boots, booties, platform slides, sneakers and pumps, with prices set between $80 and $200. The D’Amelio women are their own best brand ambassadors and haven’t been shy about promoting the launch — showing off pairs on Instagram and TikTok.

According to Dixie, footwear was the natural place for D’Amelio Brands to start.

“We all have a lot to say about what shoes we’re wearing and are being put in shoes all the time that are so uncomfortable,” Dixie said. “I just want shoes that I like and that I know people like.”

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Dixie D’Amelio, wearing a GCDS top and denim skirt, Mara Paris earrings, and Zydo and Anabela Chan bracelets.
CREDIT: Camraface.

Charli and Dixie are also in a unique position to truly understand the majority of people they are marketing to.

“I guess a lot of brands don’t really get that insider information from the teens themselves, and they’re not listening to what people may want,” said Charli, who said she’s learned a lot from asking her friends in college what they want in a shoe.

For Dixie, a self-proclaimed TikTok lover — her phone screen time nears an average of 16 hours a day — the opportunity in the shoe space was evident on the platform. “That’s the best research anyone could do. It’s just watching people,” she said of TikTok. “When it came to the shoes, I realized no one is really focusing on [them] anymore. It’s kind of the accessories and the outfits. And I love shoes so much. I think shoes can make or break a look. Why not start there?”

dixie d'amelio, charli d'amelio, d'amelio footwear, d'amelio family, the d'amelio show, influencers, tik tok, tik tok influencers
The D’Amelio family: Marc, Heidi, Dixie and Charli.
CREDIT: Camraface

Footwear is still a highly competitive market, and staying power has been historically elusive for celebrities attaching their names to shoe brands — despite some notable exceptions, including Jessica Simpson. To set the venture up for long-term success, the company enlisted seasoned industry professionals and adhered to a relatively traditional footwear production model, creating a full collection in under a year.

Camuto Group veteran designer Lauren DiCicco joined the venture as head of design for footwear last August, and was the sole designer on the project. The shoes were produced in two factories in China and will be distributed in a mainly direct- to-consumer model via a new website that is already live. Partnerships with retailers will likely be the next step (the group is targeting Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Revolve), as well as pop-up shops.

“I’m all about quality,” said DiCicco, who previously worked for 16 years with Camuto Group, most recently as a senior designer for Jessica Simpson footwear. In launching D’Amelio Footwear, DiCicco used vegan leather wherever possible, as well as biodegradable bags. The shoeboxes also come with a built-in handle to help eliminate the need for a bag at all.

In addition to DiCicco, D’Amelio Brands has 18 full-time employees, including a general council, director of operations and head of e-commerce, and it opened a 4,650-square-foot office in West Hollywood last May. (The family relocated to California from Connecticut in May 2020.)

Marc is no stranger to brand building, having previously run his own clothing business, Madsoul Clothing Company and a wholesale showroom out of New York City. He’s also worked with sportswear outfitter Mitchell & Ness since 2008 and still runs Northeast and Mid-Atlantic wholesale sales for the company via his sales agency, Level Four, and serves on the company’s board of directors.

The D’Amelios were part of a group of investors that joined Fanatics in acquiring Mitchell & Ness in February 2022.

“I’ve done it on the apparel side; I’ve never done it on footwear,” Marc said. “I owe it 100 percent to our team.”

A University of Connecticut Huskies fan and alumnus, Marc also plans to leverage D’Amelio Brands to support an NIL collective for student athletes at the university.

A viral story

The influencer-to-brand-builder pipeline is nothing new. YouTuber Emma Chamberlain closed a $7 million series A funding round in August for her Chamberlain Coffee brand that she launched in 2020. That same year, YouTuber Jimmy Donaldson, known as Mr. Beast, opened a ghost kitchen venture, Mr. Beast Burger. Donaldson opened his first physical location in New Jersey’s American Dream mall in 2022 to a crowd of 10,000.

“We didn’t invent this process,” Marc said, highlighting other celebrity brand success stories like Jessica Alba’s The Honest Co. and Kim Kardashian’s Skims. “The model has been out there. The only thing we did differently is we raised money on the potential, as opposed to establishing it first and then going out and raising money.”

Their venture in September announced $6 million in seed funding from a group of investors including Fanatics Inc. CEO Michael Rubin, Apple’s SVP of services Eddy Cue, Lions Gate Entertainment CEO Jon Feltheimer and Autograph co-chairman and D’Amelio Brands co-founder Richard Rosenblatt.

“The D’Amelios are a force, and the opportunities when you combine their collective global reach, social influence and business acumen under one, unified brand are endless,” Rubin said.

Their business model hinges on notoriety, or a devoted base of followers. The D’Amelio family has more than 220 million followers on TikTok and more than 73 million followers on Instagram, combined. That takes care of one of the hardest parts of launching a brand: finding and acquiring your consumers.

“You have this inherent trust and fandom and relatability from their in- depth fan base,” said Ryan Detert, CEO of marketing firm Influential, about these types of brand launches. “They have that audience. They have those eyeballs.”

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On Charli: Prada dress.
CREDIT: Camraface.

The key for creators is to stay focused on the products and brands that make sense to their identity. Charli’s partnership with Dunkin’, for instance, emerged from a genuine love for the brand.

“I shamelessly promoted Dunkin’ forever, without getting paid anything just because I truly loved it,” Charli said. “Then eventually, when they offered a deal, it was a no-brainer for everyone involved.”

Both sisters have gravitated to fashion endeavors, including Social Tourist, their fashion brand with Hollister, that launched in 2021. Dixie has been a Puma ambassador since 2021 and launched her own limited-edition footwear collection with the brand in March.

“A lot of people know [Dixie] as a social media star, but from our standpoint, we also know her as a fantastic creator, someone who’s into fashion and sneakers and who is obviously into music and is just such a unique personality,” said Allison Giorgio, Puma’s VP of marketing for North America who oversaw the brand’s partnership and collection with Dixie. “She’s a great example of someone who has embraced this new wave of influencer and celebrity stakehold.”

These endorsement deals have had a massive financial impact. In 2021, Charli made $17.5 million in branding and endorsement deals, and Dixie made $10 million, according to Forbes estimates confirmed by the D’Amelios . The same report found that the entire family had raked in close to $70 million in earnings over the prior two years, as of September 2022.

“What [Charli and Dixie] have done is build essentially an empire on creating these partnerships that make sense for them,” said Angela Simaan, senior communications director at influencer marketing agency Obviously. “They’re all so perfectly in step with who they are and who they have been on TikTok and social media in front of millions and millions of people, that they’ve all been successful enterprises.”

Staying grounded

With all the opportunities coming to the D’Amelio clan, it’s easy to forget the dark side of fame, especially at such a young age. In the first season of “The D’Amelio Show,” which premiered in September 2021, Dixie sobs to her parents about negative comments she’s received online. And Charli opens up about her struggles with panic attacks and anxiety.

These days, the family said they are better at tuning out negativity and avoid engaging with hate comments as much as possible. “I just keep my mouth shut and go to therapy,” Charli said.

Being a tight-knit unit also helps keep them grounded. And with D’Amelio Brands, Dixie and Charli have a potential financial safety net, should they ever decide to take a step back from social media. “They are a part of a family business, and if they don’t want to do social media, they can always fall back on that,” Heidi said.

dixie d'amelio, charli d'amelio, d'amelio footwear, d'amelio family, the d'amelio show, influencers, tik tok, tik tok influencers
From left: Dixie, Heidi, Marc and Charli D’Amelio. On Dixie: Self-Portrait top, Theory trousers, Zydo earrings. On Heidi: Rebecca Vallance dress. On Charli: Azeeza dress and holding the D’Amelio footwear platform boot.
CREDIT: Camraface


The D’Amelios are hoping the family storyline will resonate as they introduce their footwear line to the world. When customers open the sleek black shoeboxes housing the new collection, they are greeted with a “Welcome to the Family” inscription, inviting customers to enter the semi-relatable world of Charli, Dixie, Heidi and Marc. They fight with their siblings, deal with acne, suffer through heartbreak and are all a bit addicted to their phones.

“We still function as a normal family. When we go on vacation, my parents get the bigger room and Dixie picks next, and then I pick, and that’s how it works,” Charli said. “We still have our core family values.”

“We had no idea any of this was going to happen,” Dixie added. “We’re figuring it out every day and just trying to get the most out of this as we can.”


Photographer: Camraface
Style Director: Shannon Adducci
Prop stylist: Skye Whitley-Guzman
Stylist: Marta del Rio
Hair: Ruslan Nureev at The Wall Group
Makeup: Olivia Madorma and Lyndsay Zavitz
Grooming: Michelle Harvey at Opus

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