Fashion

Good American Pushes the Size Inclusivity Conversation Forward With a New Shoe Collection

If you want to walk a mile in Khloe Kardashian’s shoes, be prepared to step into towering heeled booties or stilettos—sneakers barely exist in the reality star’s world. Growing up, the youngest Kardashian daughter remembers being “suited and booted from head to toe.” Kris Jenner was not a fan of sweatpants or sneakers. “Everything was really dressy. Everything had to look polished. I remember either wearing really dressy shoes or running around completely barefoot,” she tells ELLE.com over Zoom.

Emma Grede, her right-hand woman and fellow co-founder of Good American, recalls a childhood begging her mother for a pair of British shoe brand Clarks Magic Step Shoes, which came with a hidden key in its heel, after watching an ad on TV. As one of four girls in the house, there wasn’t any room for expression. “You wore whatever my Mom told you to wear and it wasn’t the beautiful shoes with the key in them from Clarks.”

Fast forward to today, the Good American co-founders have pretty much every shoe at their disposable—Kardashian admits she has more than 400 pairs of boots in her closet alone. But just as the lack of size inclusivity in denim inspired Kardashian and Grede to launch Good American in 2016, the co-founders noticed a dearth of sizing options for women in another department: shoes. So they’re making up for it with Good American’s first-ever shoe collection, which launches today.

good american shoes

Courtesy of Good American

Taking cues from their own closets, the extensive collection launches with square toe low-heeled sandals, slingback pumps, mules, booties (that vary in length and thickness), and thigh-high boots. Perhaps the best part of the collection is the sizing, which starts at size four, goes up to size 14, and also offers customers standard and extended widths.

“We really try to be inclusive for everybody. That’s how we’ve started with denim, we were inclusive from the jump. It’s not just a trend that we’re piggybacking off of. It’s something that we’ve always been true to, and we’re not going to change our approach in the shoe department,” Kardashian says.

Born out of a desire to give women chic shoe options regardless of their size, Kardashian and Grede say Good American’s shoe collection is taking shoe innovation to a new level. “You ever Google what size 14 shoes look like? Cover your eyes,” Grede jokes.

Ahead, the Good American founders talk more about their new collection and how this new endeavor adds to the inclusivity conversation.

What makes the perfect shoe, in your opinion?

Emma Grede: Do you know what? I like simplicity. I go back to the same things over and over. When we put this collection together, we were like, we need a little bit of the lusty stuff that you just love. And so I go back to the same ankle boot, pump, over the knee boot time and time again. I’m quite a classic dresser. So for me, it’s about the perfect heel, perfect point, and then of course you want to feel comfortable. It can’t kill you, but I think it’s the small things that make something look gorgeous.

Khloe Kardashian: I stay true to my silhouettes, and I’m an over-the-knee boot gal. I can jazz it up with either metallics or leopard or add a little pizazz there. Guarantee I have 400 of them in my closet. I think the beauty of what makes a really great silhouette is what makes them comfortable. I am the queen of taking my shoes off and being barefoot and not giving a shit, but I was walking around in our booties for about five hours on Thanksgiving and I literally forgot I was wearing heels and I wasn’t even drinking that much. So a perfect shoe is when you’re able to still not sacrifice the glamour of it and still have that metal heel and have it still be sexy but you could just run around in it.

Is there a particular shoe in your personal collections that inspired any of the shoes in the collection?

KK: What I love most about me and Emma is that we have totally different styles that we gravitate to. If it was just me, I would say definitely the booties and the boots are more inspired by my collection. I’m a thigh-high boot girl and I love an ankle boot. And then of course we each have that classic silhouette pump because it’s easy breezy.

good american shoes

Courtesy

What inspired you both to launch a shoe category over any other category?

EG: Since we started talking about Good American and from the very, very first shoot, we would feel so good putting these jeans on size 18, 20 women. She’d put the jeans on, and then we would be trying to shoe horn her into shoes. We’d cut shoes, we would break shoes. It was embarrassing. And so we knew super early on that we wanted to do shoes, but it’s something that’s really expensive to invest in and really technically complicated. You really need to know what you’re doing with shoes. But ultimately we do what we love and then we do what our customers are asking us for. And bringing those two things together, that’s really where all the magic happens. It really is about listening more than we talk. And I think we do that really well at Good American in any product category that we decide to go to. We just listen to, well, What the customer’s looking for? What can’t she find?

KK: I remember when Emma first presented the idea to me and I was like, what? No, because we’re essentially a baby brand. But we are so in tune with our customer base and the biggest request was shoes, but of different widths. And just because you have larger sizing or you’re plus size in certain areas, that doesn’t mean you’re going to have the average size foot. Everyone wants to claim they’re all-inclusive, but really, they’re limiting. I’m a size 10. I don’t even have the biggest feet. I have friends that are a size 12 and it’s so hard to find shoes that are—

EG: Cute.

KK: Yes, even my sister Kourtney is a size five, which to me is abnormally small, but it’s actually a very common size and she can barely find shoes. She always gets a six and has to put a padding in the sole to make it work. And I’m just like, why are they giving us basically four or five sizes? Where are the options?

EG: It’s interesting because it really comes down to: Where do these conversations start? Typically not with women who have a need at the top of a company, right? It’s the women who are constantly being dictated to from a fashion industry that really grossly under serves them. What I found out once we started doing these focus groups and fit testing is a lot of women don’t even realize they need wider shoes; they’re used to sizing up, they’re used to their shoes needing a few days to stretch out, they’re used to their feet being marked. But, no, there is a much, much better way. We realized we can innovate in a category from a fit and a fabrication perspective.

At first glance, the skinny heels and pointed toes don’t exactly scream comfort. How did you incorporate comfort without forgoing style or function?

EG: We stress-tested the heels. Everybody’s broken a heel at one point. But of course, if you are on the larger end of the size spectrum, that happens a lot. And that’s what we don’t want to happen at Good American. So doing stress testing, using super quality fabrics made in Europe—we’ve got a Cloud sole that feels super, super cushioned and molds around your foot to give you that extra bit of stability.

good american shoes

Courtesy

How did you settle on such an accessible price point?

EG: We open up at $139, which, for beautiful quality and really beautifully crafted shoes is a great opening price point. We did sit there at the beginning of COVID and think people might not all be running out to buy a new pair of heels right now, but if you get something that fits and feels great, the customer’s is going to buy it because there’s such a limited options. There’s a lot of claims from companies saying their body positive or they’re inclusive, but you have to do a lot of work to be truly inclusive, to do things for your customer, to go that extra mile takes a lot of research, a lot of development and a lot of money. We really, really think that we’ve done something that’s properly revolutionary in the fashion business. We’re really, really excited to see people just be able to have styles that they can’t otherwise get their hands on. And the main thing we’re most proud of is the size four to 14 sizing and the extended width. Four to 14, that’s a lot of shoes.

Size four is even smaller than Kourtney’s foot.

KK: She’s so thrilled. All of [my sisters] are, really. They just got their stuff last week and they’ve worn some of it. My mom loves the booties. It’s funny because I’ll be wearing the collection and they compliment my stuff not knowing what I’m wearing. I was wearing these Good American booties last night and a jacket and my sister was like, is that Rick Owens? I was like, no, it’s Good American. And so I felt so good when people think it’s some boss designer, but like it’s just another boss designer. It’s a Good American designer.

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