Gwen Stefani is stepping into another fashion category with a line of affordable accessories with footwear e-tailer ShoeDazzle.
This story first appeared in the February 18, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Priced at $69.95 to $110.95, gx by Gwen Stefani is launching Feb. 26 on ShoeDazzle.com with seven handbags and 24 footwear styles crossing pump, wedge and heeled sandal varieties. The initial collection is an ode of sorts to the many cultural touch points — pop, punk, tribal and street — that have been signatures of Stefani’s designs since she broke into fashion in 2002, with accessories in partnership with LeSportsac.
“I just wanted to make something that looked really good and high quality, but that you could afford. That was a challenge,” said Stefani, who noted the name of the line comes from how she signs off letters and e-mails. “Whenever I design, I’m mixing different cultural influences and, always with the first collection of something new, I want to reflect on everything I’ve done in a way. This kind of sums up all of my influences. The key colors are black, white and red, so it is pretty simple, but it has a lot of details.”
MJ Eng, president of ShoeDazzle, said the line with Stefani made sense for ShoeDazzle because of the No Doubt singer’s strong aesthetic and because she resonates with ShoeDazzle’s customers. “We survey our customers all the time because we are trying to get a better sense of who their influencers are. She’s consistently up there. Our clients love her to death,” he said.
Although Stefani has worked extensively on accessories with LeSportsac and L.A.M.B., the brand she started in 2004 that sells shoes for mostly $225 to $445 and bags for mostly $299 to $550, she finds creating them tricky. “To see a sketch and then to try to visualize what it is going to end up being and how it is going to work on the foot, it is not an easy project. I just think it takes time to learn, and now I have gotten to the point where I feel like my opinion and my input is valid. I know more what I’m doing,” said Stefani. “I didn’t go to design school or anything like that. It is all about what I like and my instinct and working with great people, and trial and error.”
Not one to compromise on style, Stefani has been wearing heels throughout her pregnancy, but her interest in comfort has increased and that is echoed in the gx line. “The really big challenge is to get a shoe to look sexy and be at a comfortable height, and I think that we did that with the sandals,” she said. “When you do find a shoe that you can wear all day long that is high, that’s a really big accomplishment, and I try to do that. I am trying to make the perfect shoe that you can wear all day long.”
For the handbags, Stefani’s goal was to introduce gx with a wide range. “I just kind of wanted it to go all over the place and have something for everybody,” she said. “It’s so weird because, with handbags, I didn’t even wear a handbag until I was in my mid-30s because I was so tomboy. I think your handbag just depends on your mood and what you are wearing that day.” She added that at the moment, “I love a softer bag that has almost a backpack feel.”
Even though her third son is due any day now, Stefani has recently been piling up the fashion and beauty projects, notably putting out products with OPI, Burton and denim stalwart Michael Glasser, with whom she is doing the pants line DWP. She said she hasn’t been overly strategic about the timing of choosing these projects or about possible future expansion of the gx line, which is expected to grow every month this year with new items on ShoeDazzle.
“Every line I’ve done I don’t really have a game plan for it,” Stefani said. Specifically speaking of gx, she continued, “It has a lot of potential to branch out more than just with accessories. We will see what happens. You just never know.”
Asked how she’s going to balance being a new mom again with the myriad projects she has committed to, Stefani admitted, “I have no idea.” However, she suggested that’s not a bad problem to have. “The reason why I started L.A.M.B. and all the lines in the first place was because I always had this dream that I could be at my house, and I’d have this studio and my kids would be playing around me,” said Stefani. “All that has come true except that all that is happening at one time, and it’s mental, completely mental.”