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NEW YORK — Phyllis Kay has always had a passion for slippers.
A veteran consultant of color and textile trends at firms including Collins & Aikman and Guilford Mills, Kay started up her slipper business, Feets of Fancy Inc., in 1994 with a mission: to provide slippers for women that were not only stylish but comfortable.
After an initial $30,000 investment and numerous attempts to find the right manufacturing specialists, Kay’s business now generates annual wholesale sales of more than $75,000, according to industry estimates.
With slippers that wholesale from $22 to $26, Kay said she wants to keep her line targeted at better specialty stores, which currently total 50 boutiques around the country. She hopes to expand distribution through exposure at intimate apparel trade shows such as Lingerie Americas, where she will be exhibiting her slipper designs for the second time in August.
“I used to go to the [ready-to-wear] collections in Europe and by the end of the day, my feet really hurt,” said Kay at her Manhattan apartment, where she creates her designs. “I would always buy these big fat slippers at drug stores in Paris and Milan, and they were so comfortable. This inspired me to do my own slippers.”
Kay said a key element to her designs is “creating a bit of whimsy — nothing too serious looking.”
“I like to use foam that is covered by luxe fabrics in basic slip-on styles that are made special with a variety of innovative trims,” she said. “The Velcro trims are detachable, so the slippers can be washed.”
The current slipper collection features cotton velour with marabou, floral and bow trims, and a raised floral jacquard knit from Italy. One new style that’s received strong reaction is a velour slipper set in beige or deep plum trimmed with custom-blended turkey feathers that look like fox fur.
“I call it Foxy,” she said. “Retailers like [it] because it looks luxurious and glamorous.”