On the fifteen-year anniversary of the premiere of Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker announced she would be launching a shoe and accessories collection in collaboration with Manolo Blahnik CEO George Malkemus. The line, called SJP, will be available exclusively at Nordstrom.
Although the company line in these parts (i.e. my brain) on various post-SATC spawn is that we hope they die and never come back (I'm looking at you, The Carrie Diaries), SJP is an exception.
1. Sarah Jessica Parker seems to be undertaking this endeavor for its own sake, not as some weird desperate bid to cling to her fame.
From an interview with WWD's Footwear News:
“There were many years where opportunities existed and it just didn’t go any further than that because I didn’t feel equipped or ready, the timing wasn’t right. In the more recent past, the conversation erupted again and I took it more seriously…
I met with lots of interesting and kind and lovely potential partners, but at night when I was lying in my bed thinking about this opportunity and what it meant to me, those partnerships didn’t seem right for me. I realized the one person I’d want to work with, in an ideal world, was George [Malkemus]. … But I was hesitant because I knew how obligated he was. … I didn’t think of him as a massive shoe producer. He doesn’t run a business like a lot of other men and women in the shoe industry.”
2. Everything will be manufactured in Europe and America.
Especially in the wake of the recent Bangladesh and Cambodia factory collapses, buying ethically-made clothes is a growing priority for most of us. Although ethical manufacturing is possible off-shore, laws and regulations in the US and European countries tend to be stricter, offering workers better protections, conditions and compensation.
3. However, items will not be out-of-control expensive.
Reports Vogue.com: "Single-sole pumps and flats will range from around $200 to $300, and bags will likely sell for under $700."
Shoe prices have soared since Carrie was trotting around Manhattan in $400 Manolos. $200-300 is a lot of money, but a reasonable price point for many middle-class consumers. I'm sure there are plenty of diehard fans across the country willing to part with a couple hundred bucks to own a piece of the SATC stiletto dream — and a pair of quality, well-sourced shoes to boot (pun intended, sry).
“Still, we know the hard-working woman who spends $300 is going to want that shoe to last. She wants it to be something she can wear to work and then to go have a drink with her beau.” – Malkemus
4. SJP is working to ensure that the shoes will be comfortable to wear.
There will be 35-40 styles of shoes — single sole pumps and flats. No kitten heels, no skyscraper platforms (SJP does not like uncomfortable things).
“When it gets really, really high and your achilles is shoved back into your calf as far as it can go, that’s when I see that ‘shuffle’ happen in women. Part of me feels responsible for it because [those heels] were a big part of our storytelling on the show. But people allowing themselves to be in pain — ugh.”
5. Collection consists of cute things other people aren't making.
“We’re putting new colors together that people don’t typically do, just beautiful combinations that you wish existed in your closet. And in terms of bags, thinking about that period of the seventies into the eighties, what those women were carrying, taking away the bells and the whistles and hardware and really making it about the bag.”
In short: Sarah Jessica Parker is working with the experienced CEO of one of the world's best labels to design a footwear and accessories collection because she thought it would be an interesting project. She's making products she thinks women will love to have in their closets and can't get anywhere else, selling at reasonable price points, manufacturing according to practices that exceed the industry standard. It's like she thought about everything that was wrong with the fashion industry and other celebrity-branded lines — and decided not to do it that way.