Rock-Star Shoe Lines: Who Did It Best?

From Kanye's Air Yeezys to Fergie's pumps, a breakdown of who's leading the footwear game

Kanye West Fergie
Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic; Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Avon
Kanye West, Fergie.
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Kanye West dropped his much-anticipated, signature, crimson shoe, the Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red Octobers, in February, but it seems so much farther away than that. The sneakers became such a phenomenon in so short a time, it's as though they've been part of our culture's fabric for years. They sold out within 10 minutes, at $245 a pop, despite the fact that they looked like they'd been cobbled together with various lizard appendages and a facial band-aid (although we must admit, the colorway and ruby-esque swoop was fairly tight): The combination of a completely unique shoe that was also branded with one of our most innovative pop stars was simply too much for hypebeasts and sneaker freakers to bear. Instagrams of Kim Kardashian and Nori West wearing the shoes inspired envious comments. Stray pairs of them, somehow scavenged by quick-clickers and shoe scalpers, were sold for premium dollar on eBay. (If you're currently in the market and wear a men's size U.S. 10, I know where you can "Buy It Now" for $5,032.65.)

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Sneaker obsessives are more voracious bunch than most, but it's safe to say that shoe companies are extra savvy when they pair with musicians and celebrities, reaching both those peoples' megafans as well as the average person in the shoe market. And even if the musician-shoe collabo does not bring said musician added credibility in the fashion market, at the very least it diversifies her revenue streams, with an item that is most-often affordable — retail-speaking, its just one step away from having a signature perfume, the generally agreed-upon way to make buckets of money at $35-60 a pop. Does it matter if they are ugly? Maybe not. Although, of course, as with music, "ugly" is subjective. Mostly. Do some of the most reviled musicians make some of the best shoes? Maybe? Are most of them women? Yup.

Jessica Simpson's shoe line is one of the most ubiquitous of all celebrity/musician brands, distributed at most major midline department stores as well as outlets like DSW. The designs are quite aligned with the shoes we imagine her to wear — a preponderance of platforms, nothing too outre, many church basics and, here and there, a knockoff or two. (Witness, for instance, the Calkins, a reasonable simulacra of Manolo Blahnik's much less affordable yet wildly popular Pacha pump.)

Simpson's closest competitor in footwear and possibly in spiritual vibes is none other than Fergie, who hawks similar styles at comparable price points in many of the same retail outlets. Neither will end up on eBay within even wheezing distance of Yeezy prices, but supply and demand means that one could cop Fergie's Gardenia pump as well as Simpson's similar-at-heart Weelee for thousands less than their counterparts made by Alexander Wang or Tibi or Alaia. (Cop some similar by J.Lo, too, and you still aren't even approaching that pricetag wheelhouse.) Or, you like your toes open? Holler at Mariah, the world's biggest peeptoe fan. Boots? Miranda Lambert. As stilettos go, Gwen Stefani is up there with her L.A.M.B. line, though her price points are higher than your average DSW jam. (Consolation, she makes a mean sneaker wedge.)

Ironically, one of the OGs of this ish is Carlos Santana, who's been making outrageous women's footwear since the 1990s. If the Red October is lizard-inspired structurally speaking, Santana shoes are literally so. Holler at this guy if you're going to Coachella this weekend, it's desert chic in the most Nat Geo way.

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