Isabel Toledo

Isabel Toledo for Payless line line will feature an array of shapes, including flats, square heels and stylish galoshes for a rainy day.

Isabel Toledo is creating handbags and shoes for the masses.

This story first appeared in the March 18, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The designer is launching an accessories and footwear collection for Payless ShoeSource, which will hit hundreds of Payless stores, as well as at, starting in September.

Isabel Toledo for Payless handbags and footwear will retail for less than $40 in mixed materials such as patent leather, nylon, rubber and mesh. The line will feature an array of shapes, including flats, square heels and stylish galoshes for a rainy day.

“Working with Payless gives me an opportunity to reach so many women, and it’s a treat to be able to touch as many women as I will,” said Toledo, who dressed First Lady Michelle Obama in a lime green coat and day dress for her husband’s inaugural ceremony. “It’s really a collection for women from all walks of life, literally. And it’s been interesting as I’ve had to have a different design hat on.

“My business is quite couture and precise,” she said. “This is taking into account all different lifestyles. In a way, it’s the closest thing to real life for me. And I feel like I’m all of these women.”

Toledo, creative director of the Anne Klein designer collection until it was closed by Jones Apparel Group Inc., joins a roster of designers who have signed on with the Topeka, Kan.-based footwear retailer under its Payless Designer Collections series. Other Payless collaborations include footwear lines by Lela Rose, Alice + Olivia and Christian Siriano.

“We originally outlined the program to help new, fresh talent broaden their spectrum,” said LuAnn Via, chief executive officer at Payless ShoeSource. “It’s a great opportunity for new designers and it gave us the opportunity to bring runway fashion to the world. That’s what we’re looking to do, to bring value and fashion to our customers. And while we like the idea of bringing in emerging talent, we now have a fashion icon in the group with Isabel.”

Payless ShoeSource is a unit of Collective Brands Inc., the largest specialty family footwear retailer in the U.S. with fourth-quarter sales totaling $741.7 million. The company operates 4,500 Payless stores around the world.

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