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25th September 2020

WORDS BY NATALIE YIASSOUMI

Meet the label who is making a return to the footwear market with colorful, upbeat designs that celebrate the founder’s African heritage. 

zendaya chelsea paris
Zendaya wearing Chelsea Paris boots in Instyle’s latest issue.
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Chelsea Paris AW2020 sandals. Image courtesy of the brand.

Theresa Ebagua isn’t new to the shoe game. She first launched her label, Chelsea Paris, in 2012 and made a name for herself for her high quality designs and architectural shapes. Everyone from Beyoncé and Taylor Swift to world-famous department stores like Barneys and Nordstrom were drawn to the brand.

But as the label raised its profile, Ebagua would often find herself being asked to conceal her heritage, tone down her use for African-inspired colors or bright patterns and generally dilute her message – which ultimately led her to taking a step back from her business. 

Now, she’s ready to make a comeback and she’s doing it on her own terms. 

The label is relaunching online this week, with a renewed vision that puts Ebagua’s original mission of celebrating African heritage and culture back at the core of the label. 

The new fall 2020 collection is filled with boots and statement platform sandals in bright snake-print – exactly the kind the designer used to be asked by retailers to avoid – as well as a series of sleek, modern mules and satin woven sandals, inspired by the lines of the cornrows she used to wear as a child, growing up in Nigeria. 

While Africa and the celebration of Black women is at the core of the brand, Ebagua is here to welcome all women into this new vision for Chelsea Paris. Anyone who loves bright color, high quality and wants to be in control, is welcome, according to the designer. 

It’s not just for [Black] audiences, it’s for everyone who shares the same ethos of wanting to walk in their own shoes and not be controlled. I want to use the collections to encourage everyone to walk in their truth,” she said.

The brand is available to shop on the label’s new e-commerce website, as well as Shopbop in the U.S. All key launches will be communicated on its Instagram, which has also been revamped with a new, colorful visual identity. At the moment, its feed showcases some of the new fall 2020 styles and its famous early adopters, like Zandaya. 

Looking ahead, Ebagua is plotting new bridal and bag category launches for the future. More importantly, she hopes to continue the conversations on race and identity and make space for more Black designers to have a voice and be themselves in the fashion space. 

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