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Zendaya on the Surprising World of Footwear Design

Zendaya, the 19-year-old actress, singer and designer, has taken to the shoe industry at a young age. While other famous footwear figures like Jessica Simpson and Sarah Jessica Parker launched their successful brands after the peak of their performing careers, Zendaya is designing as her star ascends.

Daya by Zendaya, which premiered with a Spring ’16 collection, is co-designed by Zendaya and her stylist Law Roach and is produced by Titan Industries. The first line was a combination of sleek sneakers, fashion-forward heels and eccentric flats.

Looking forward to Spring ’17, Zendaya says she plans to stick to what her fans have been responding to, but in seasons ahead, says she is excited to branch into new styles that haven’t been seen at this price point.

VAMP: What has surprisied you the most about the shoe design process?
Zendaya: Honestly, what surprised me the most were the details. It’s a lot more than, ‘Oh I want a shoe like this, with this,’ you know? There’s so much detail that’s involved, and I like to be involved in every detail of my shoes, down to what everything looks like, all the color palettes. I’m very, very specific because I want to make the best quality possible that I can. So you know, it’s definitely time-consuming, but it’s worth it.

VAMP: What is your favorite part of the job?
Zendaya: My favorite part is the fact that I get to do it with Law [Roach]. He’s my stylist and my creative partner and so us together is just a very funny, magical combination.

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VAMP: What are some qualities that you think a person needs to be successful in footwear?
Zendaya: I would say there’s a lot of business that goes into the whole thing. A lot of the things you just don’t realize or don’t quite understand. I’ve just had to kind of listen. Especially because I wanted to create shoes that were luxurious and quality and felt good, but also at a really great price. There’s a lot of effort in that. It’s not easy. You have to sacrifice certain design elements for the price. It’s almost like a negotiation.

VAMP: Where and when do you feel the most creative?
Zendaya: It’s all about environments. I feel most creative in environments where my creativity is accepted. I’m not one of those types that likes to be put in a box or told what to do. So when it comes to anything in my life—acting, singing, designing, whatever—I have to be in an environment where my creativity is accepted and listened to. Otherwise, if you’re not, you go crazy!

VAMP: What is your first footwear memory?
Zendaya: I’ve always kind of been obsessed with heels. My mom never really wore heels, that just wasn’t her style, but both my grandmas on both sides always had heels, and I would always go into their closets and just try on their heels and walk around in their heels all day—I was obsessed with high heels!

VAMP: Who do you admire in the shoe industry?
Zendaya: There’s the Jessica Simpsons of the world who have created a huge, huge brand out of their name. Which is really cool and awesome and everything. So definitely that, but what I think is really cool about this, and what I foresee for the future is no matter how much success I hope that this all has, I want to be involved in a part of it at each step of the way. It’s not something that I ever want to take my hands off of. It’s so personal and every single shoe that goes out is approved and looked over by me and my team.

VAMP: Why are you passionate about footwear and footwear design?
Zendaya: I love shoes. They’re just the best. They can change your mood, they can change your feel. Who doesn’t love shoes? Anybody who doesn’t love shoes, I worry.