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Why Nicky Hilton was inspired to create shoe line amid 'retail apocalypse'

Celebrity fashion designer Nicky Hilton knows a thing or two about shoes.

The 35-year-old businesswoman just released her Nicky Hilton x French Sole Fall ’19 Capsule Collection, which includes ballerina flats, loafers and pumps priced between $150 - $250.

Hilton’s venture into footwear began at an early age — with inspiration for her first-ever shoe line dating back to her time at private school.

“I had a strict uniform — we weren’t allowed to wear makeup, we weren’t allowed to wear jewelry and we certainly were not allowed to wear heels,” she explained to Yahoo Finance this week.

“Shoes were really our only way of expressing ourselves, so we put a lot of thought into it.”

The 'Paris' ballet flat named after Nicky Hilton's older sister, Paris Hilton (Courtesy: Nicky Hilton x French Sole)

The line follows other fashion ventures from Hilton, from hand bangs and clothing to jewelry and cosmetics.

“I’ve been doing fashion designer for nearly twenty years,” she said, adding that shoe design was a natural “next stop” given that she sports flats on a daily basis.

‘The Retail Apocalypse’

Hilton’s line comes at a time when uncertainty over discretionary spending is at an all-time high, and brick-and-mortar stores struggle in a volatile market environment. The September U.S. jobs report showed retailers shed over 11,000 jobs, and the sector has lost nearly 200,000 since hiring peaked in 2017.

Forever 21 has been the latest retailer to fall victim to the so-called “retail apocalypse,” filing for bankruptcy protection with plans to close as many as 350 of its 800 stores in a restructuring. Meanwhile, store closures are delivering a major blow to shopping malls around the country.

But Hilton said her business — like other major brands — has a large online presence, which helps drive sales amid uncertainty.

In addition to selling her collection at French Sole boutiques in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, items also sell on FrenchSoleShoes.com & Zappos.com.

So far this year, U.S. retailers have announced over 8,000 closures — a significant increase compared to the roughly 5,000 closures in 2018.

Alexandra Canal is a Producer at Yahoo Finance.

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