For many kids, a visit to a Build-A-Bear Workshop store is a childhood rite of passage.
Now, the popular plush-toy brand is giving children a chance to bring home the magic of its in-store experience with a do-it-yourself slipper collection. Set to launch at retail this fall, the collection, which is being produced under license by Esquire Footwear, offers cozy styles with plush animal heads on the toe.
Each pair comes with a small satin bag filled with two stuffing pillows and one of the brand’s signature hearts, allowing kids to fill the plush heads on the slippers through a Velcro opening in the back. Kids also receive a birth certificate for their fuzzy friend.
“It’s the exact same concept that kids experience at a Build-A-Bear store, but now they can have that experience at home,” said Larry Paparo, president of Esquire. “The product is fun and engaging — kids can build their own slippers and personalize them by stuffing the heads and giving them a heart.”
Priced from $20 to $30, the slippers will be sold at Build-A-Bear concept stores, as well as at select department stores, specialty retailers and e-commerce sites. The collection’s designs mirror the plush animal assortment — including themes, materials and colors — featured at Build-A-Bear. “We have styles such as Colorburst Bunny, Rainbow Leopard and Cookies & Cream Pup,” Paparo noted. “We’ll also do seasonal styles, whether it’s a reindeer for Christmas or a scented Valentine’s Day bear.”
Esquire also plans to introduce cross-collaborations with other character licenses in its stable, among them “Minions” and “My Little Pony.”
The partnership with Esquire marks the first time Build-A-Bear has introduced fashion lifestyle product for kids. “We are excited to debut this fun new footwear collection — the first of its kind for our brand,” said Jennifer Kretchmar, Build-A-Bear’s chief product officer. “The reach of [our] brand continues to grow beyond the walls of retail stores thanks to best-in-class partners like Esquire and the valuable resources they offer.”
Headquartered in New York, Esquire oversees a growing stable of kids’ footwear licenses including Disney, Mattel, Hasbro, Nickelodeon, Peppa Pig, Limited Too, Sega and Ty. Paparo said the firm is focused on bringing new innovations to the kids’ footwear space. “We want to deliver a different, unexpected approach because in this retail climate, shoes really have to sell themselves. We’re all about creating unique, compelling products that give consumers a reason to buy.”