Jennifer Lopez has always had a special thing for shoes, which goes back to when she was growing up in the Bronx.
“The shoe thing for me goes deep, it goes deeper than ‘I love shoes,'” Lopez said in an interview. “For me, I was one of those little girls in the Bronx who used to wear my shoes until I could feel the cement on my foot. I had sandals and sneakers, and there was a hole down there.”
Lopez was describing her passion for footwear two days before the launch of her JLO Jennifer Lopez footwear collection. In collaboration with Camuto Group, her footwear line will launch exclusively today at Designer Shoe Warehouse stores nationwide and in Canada, and at dsw.com. The collection features sky-high sandals, sexy stilettos, boots, booties and sneakers inspired by the three cities Lopez calls home: New York, Miami and Los Angeles.
Lopez recalled an “aha” moment that occurred 20 years ago that crystallized her connection to footwear. She was in Europe on tour promoting her first album, “On the Six,” and she was jet lagged and in a big hotel room by herself. She walked into the other room of her suite, and she was “kind of marveling how I wound up here in this beautiful hotel room” and they had her wardrobe set up with all these shoes on the floor. “Oh my God, this happened. This was the girl with the hole in the shoes. It represents more to me than that. It was a dream and success and accomplishment. I’ve always had such an affinity. It became a symbol to me, and I’ve never forgotten how I felt at 4 o’clock in the morning in London,” she said.
She had a lot of input into what went into the collection and wanted to offer the masses “high fashion for a price.” With an emphasis on glam, the line is full of such details as studs, animal prints and crystal embellishments.
“When I was a little girl, I used to look to my idols and wish I could have their jacket or their outfit or their jewelry or their shoes, and it was always so expensive and we could never do that. At DSW, we can do that with quality and high fashion,” she said. Her JLO Jennifer collection retails from $59 to $189.
For spring, she will introduce footwear, and will later add jewelry and handbags. “I couldn’t ask for a better partner [in Camuto and DSW]. For me, everything that I get involved with is about that, it’s about bringing quality. Everything I put my name on is something that looks like I would wear it myself,” Lopez said.
And she’s been road testing many of the looks already, both on the red carpet and in her personal life. On the weekends, she wears sneakers all the time. Her favorite JLO Jennifer Lopez pair are quilted sneakers with silver studs on them. “They’re super comfy, they’re quilted and they almost have a Chanel-like quality in my mind. They look like a Chanel bag, or something,” she said. She also wore the high heels to the Critics’ Choice Awards in January when she was nominated for her supporting actress role in “Hustlers.” She also wore her brand’s shoes to the Oscars after party. “Let me tell you, I wore the very high ones, silver. It’s on my Instagram Stories, in highlights. They were beautiful. I’ve worn a lot of shoes [in my life] and not all of them are as comfortable, but these really were. And I danced in them all night,” she said.
Another favorite is the black, pointy toes with slingback and laces around the ankle. “We have them in different colorways. There’s black with little rhinestones on them, little crystals that I love. They’re the first ones I posted. They’re not very high, for me. I like super-high platforms, the whole situation. These are maybe two and a half inches. They’re nice. They’re comfortable and sexy. I realize that people have to run around in the streets and go to work, and we thought about all of that. There are a lot of working girls and women out there. We have sneakers, and then we have the super, super high fashion ones, with the tall heels and the platforms,” she said.
Asked if she had some ideas that couldn’t be done at affordable prices, she said, “Yes, of course. You aim really, really high, and they say, ‘Whoa, that really doesn’t fit in, we can’t do that.’ But I have to say Camuto and DSW, they’re really able to deliver the styles though, even if we can’t give you the authentic, whatever it is. The crystal we get is beautiful, shiny crystal. Whatever the skins are, they feel luxurious. They look beautiful. I’m really happy with what it is. I don’t feel like I sacrificed anything, in any way, shape or form at the end of the day.”
Lopez also had a say in the ad campaign, and worked with Luigi and Iango for photography and Rob Zangardi and Mariel Haenn as stylists. Danielle Priano did the hair and Scott Barnes the makeup. “I thought they created a perfect, modern look that I wanted for the campaign, clean and beautiful and editorial, and sexy as well,” she said. She also felt it was representative of the three silos — New York, Miami and Los Angeles — that they designed the collection around “that really show the different sides of who I am and how people know me,” she said.
“New York is the Bronx girl in me, we have our sneakers and our boots, and those influences. The Miami is more my life side, that beach, tropical, neon colors, sexy, lace-up, and Hollywood is the glamour, the movie star side of you, the movie star side of every woman, the highest heels, the more nighttime glam things, the sparkle, the glitter and the crystals,” the 50-year-old star said.
Lopez said this is a long-term deal, and beyond footwear, handbags and jewelry doesn’t foresee adding additional products for now. “I think we have our hands full for now. I wanted to start in a place where I really was proud not just of the style of it, but the quality of it, and the comfort of it. And I am. I want to take it step by step. Making sure everything we put out everybody is happy with,” she said.
When asked who she envisions her customer to be, Lopez said, “I see it as the modern girl, the modern woman. What I love when I go on tour, and the fans that I see in the audience, they go from eight years old to 80 years old. For me, when I’m designing, I think of it as an ageless way. It’s just a modern woman with a modern life who’s a hardworking woman, who loves style, who loves fashion, and aspires to be all that can can be. To me, that’s who I design for.”
Working with Camuto, she said she was able to learn a lot about the technical side, how long things take, the different textures of leathers, the materials, what costs a lot and what doesn’t, and how they can get this for a better price and better look. “I love learning all this stuff,” she said.
Simon Nankervis, chief executive officer of the Camuto Group, confirmed that Lopez was intimately involved in every aspect of the collection “from initial concepts, sketching, prototype, to final sample and marketing.”
“Jennifer was even self-directing the photographers as we were on site for the photo shoot. She has been very involved from the early stages and up to now approving every aspect of her brand,” he said.
On the heels of “Hustlers,” her Super Bowl halftime performance and her role on “World of Dance,” where she’s executive producer and a judge, along with being the face this season of Coach, Versace and Guess, Lopez was asked about any new projects and how she’s dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.
“It’s such a scary, tricky rime right now. I’m going to be working from home the next few weeks, working on scripts and branding. In the meantime, trying to make lemonade out of lemons, and enjoy the time with the kids and just trying to stay positive and do all we can as a family to help in this situation and quarantine and set the right example,” she said.