For those of us over 18, Zendaya — an actress, singer, producer, Disney channel star and red carpet regular — may be best known for her eloquent response to Giuliana Rancic's inappropriate comments about her dreadlocked Oscars hairstyle, but that may be about to change. Her latest project is a partnership with footwear company Titan Industries to license Daya by Zendaya, a shoe collection set to hit stores next spring.
It's a strategic move on Zendaya's part to capitalize on her stylish reputation. With the help of her stylist Law Roach, who co-created the shoe line with her, Zendaya stood out on the red carpet at high-profile events like the Oscars and the Met Gala. "She’s growing into what people are calling a fashion icon," said Roach. "The next step is developing some type of line." Roach and Zendaya agreed shoes were the best category to begin with because they appeal to every age and body type.
At a preview for the shoe collection at Titan's offices in Midtown on Wednesday, I interviewed Zendaya as she delicately ate a personal size pizza with a fork and knife. Her hit song "Replay" was playing, on replay, in the background as she explained that she wanted to partner with Titan — which also holds the footwear licenses for L.A.M.B., Charles Jourdan, Cynthia Vincent, GX by Gwen Stefani, Badgley Mischka and Joe’s Jeans — because the company moves fast. "We want to get the process moving and they were all about it," she said.
Zendaya and Roach's main goal for the collection was to provide her young fans with a way to copy her high-fashion style at a realistic price point. "It was a lot of back and forth [with Titan]," explained Zendaya. "There were times when we thought, 'Okay, well, we can't have that many studs, we got to take this off, we have to add a strap or take a strap away'...But at the end of the day we didn’t want to compromise the shoe."
Prices range from $125 to $175 for a wide variety of styles including slides, sneakers, strappy platforms and pumps. The designs aren't groundbreaking — there's even a version of Aquazurra lace-up flats, which have been copied by many brands — but that's not intentional, says Zendaya. "We don’t want the girls to feel like they’re wearing a knockoff, we don't want them to feel like they’re wearing the look for less," she said. "We want them to just feel like they’re wearing the look."
But Zendaya's biggest priority for all her shoes was comfort and each pair is produced with a very pillowy sole. "One of the first things that I said was we've got to put extra squish in there for these women," something she feels is more important in inexpensive shoes. Her logic: "If you buy a Jimmy Choo for $1,000 some dollars, you're going to put up with the fact that it's an uncomfortable shoe... If you're paying a lot less for a shoe, there's a lot of women who are just not going to wear it or throw it out and get a new shoe. "
At the end of the day, the reason celebrities get involved with fashion lines is because they know their fans want to copy their personal style but can't necessarily afford the luxury labels worn on the red carpet, and Zendaya's shoe line delivers on that point. "Many times [while designing the line], I went to my own personal shoe closet and said, I need something like this, how do we make something like this," she explained. "None of these shoes are anything that I wouldn't wear — literally, I love every single one — and that's something I don't think a lot of people can say about their shoe lines."
This story has been updated to reflect that Zendaya is currently on the Disney channel as an actress and producer.