Christian Louboutin’s iconic red-bottom heels are one of the ultimate luxury status symbols. But a new collaboration with Idris and Sabrina Elba, launching today, is reimagining them for a thoughtful cause.
Like so many 2020 projects, Louboutin, Idris, and Sabrina’s new shoe partnership first began out of a virtual chat last summer. On June 15 of last year, the Black Lives Matter movement was at the center of the global conversation with protests occurring around the globe, and Idris and Sabrina went on Instagram Live with BLM’s cofounder, Opal Tometi. “We were having a conversation about what was happening in the world, and how we could contribute,” Sabrina tells Vogue. Louboutin tuned in to the chat, and he immediately saw an opportunity to partner with the Elbas to use fashion for more.
Together, the trio decided to produce a shoe collection that would directly benefit Black youth. Out now, the new Louboutin “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” collection was codesigned by the Elbas, and 100% of its proceeds will be donated to five nonprofit organizations: Be Rose, Purposeful, Immediate Theatre, Gathering for Justice, and the Somali Hope Foundation. These organizations aid in making the arts accessible to all, ending child incarceration, and providing mentorship for girls, among other causes.
The line includes luxury sleek, pointy-toe pumps and mule sandals for her, high-top sneakers and oxford dress shoes for him, and leather top-handle bags. For the Elbas, it was a tangible way for them (along with their customers) to add to a good cause. “Our intention is to contribute to the moment,” says Idris. “Some people can contribute by protesting, by passing legislation, by offering money—but the intention of the contribution is what is important.” Sabrina felt it was important for the charitable components to be global in scope. “We wanted to do something that had an international reach,” she says. “With George Floyd’s murder, there was such a global outcry of pain; people realized this is a global issue.”
Together with Louboutin, the couple wanted to make sure the design process was just as purposeful as its core intention. Louboutin incorporated his signature red soles, of course, but he also collaborated with the Elbas on special, one-off details that touch on themes of empathy. Across some of the sneakers and pumps, for instance, reads, “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,” something Idris read while visiting the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in L.A.; it struck the actor as a message of empathy. “The message we wanted to share with people is a message of solidarity and hope,” says Idris. Sabrina also had the idea of adding imagery of Strelitzia reginae plants to the pieces, which is a symbol of hope and freedom. “It’s something more lively and enthusiastic to say all isn’t dark. We can still find hope in this challenging time,” Louboutin says.
This is only the first of many collaborations to come between the Elbas and Louboutin too. In the future, they will be releasing more shoe collections together—all for a good cause. “Through this collaboration, and going into deep conversations about the actual situation we’re facing all around the world, it strengthened our relationship,” said Louboutin. For Sabrina, the partnership is simply a dream come true. “The first luxury designer shoe I ever bought was Louboutin,” she says (he also made her wedding shoes). “I saved up all my tips and bought a pair of So Kates. The first time I put those on, I was just like, a bad bitch.”