Babies in Stilettos? It's Heelarious!

Some say "How JonBenet," but novelty baby spikes are selling like "wildfire."


June 20, 2008 — -- "Put on your high-heel sneakers, child/ Wear your wig-hat on your head/ Ya know you're looking mighty fine, baby/ I'm pretty sure you're gonna knock 'em dead."

Tommy Tucker's hit song resonated with fashion-conscious teenie boppers across America in 1964, but these days the height of infantile madness is "Heelarious."

It's high heels for babies. And in the two weeks since they hit the market, the shoes are selling like "wildfire" in 22 US states and overseas, according to co-creators Britta Bacon and Hayden Porter.

The soft shoe is actually a bootie that comes in five styles, each with a name: "Brooke" is a leopard print, "Elle" is pink, "Kate" is black satin, "Kayla" is zebra satin, "She's a Little Lady" is black patent leather and "Sophie" is hot pink satin.

"They're not for any other reason in the whole world than for the child you don't know what to give to," said Helen Wright, owner of Pitti Bimi, one of her three high-end children's stores in Deal, N.J.

"It's for the cool, trendier mom, the city mom," she told "It's not pedestrian — excuse the pun — it's edgy."

The shoes — in sizes 0 to 6 months — sell for $35 a pair. They were created, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, by Bacon and Porter, who describe "her first high heels" as "extremely funny, completely soft, fully functional high-heel crib shoes for babies."

They are not intended for walking, but "may cause extreme smiling and hysterical laughter when in use (this is completely normal)," the Seattle 31-year-olds report on

Childhood friends from Seattle, the pair — both mothers — became business partners, first operating a candy store and then an event planning business. They say their baby stilettos are the "first in the world."

En route to a children's birthday party, thinking about her longtime friend's spike collection, Bacon thought, "Wouldn't it be hilarious to bring my daughter to a party in high heels?"

Reaction has been mixed, from "You've come a long way baby!" to "Sex and the City" for kids.

Or, on the other hand, how JonBenet!

"I'm appalled," said Stacey Swiecicki, a Croton, N.Y., mother, who has a 1-year-old daughter. "It's one thing to buy Disney princess shoes, but never in a million years would I put my daughter in those shoes."

"You hear about all the back problems women have wearing heels, besides the sexual innuendo and not to mention JonBenet," said Swiecicki, a part-time fragrance representative.

But its creators say that misses the point.

"When you compare a baby shoe to an unsolved murder, when you are talking about kids in pageants, it's insulting to parents and insulting to us," said Bacon, whose clients are "men, women, teen-age girls, grandparents and uncles who buy them for layette gifts."

Besides, she claims, high heels get a bad rap and are "not just for strippers."

Indeed, Jana Platina Phipps, a New York trimmings designer with her own business – Home Contour Collection – sees "nothing at all" sexualized about the baby accessory. "I would definitely buy them," she said.

Phipps loves the idea that a baby can be fashionable, too.

While working at a textile factory in Italy this week with her 5-year-old daughter in tow, Phipps told, "They are really fabulous!"

"I definitely tried to steer my daughter away from all things Barbie," said Phipps. "They send the message of, 'You are not perfect the way you are.' I am definitely conscious of the toys I buy for her."

"We are so inundated with things that are princess and branded and before I had a child, I was always finding things that were gender specific as a result of the culture," she said. "But now that I am raising a child, I woke up to the fact that dress-up is a big part of her life."

Phipps sees the baby heels as "fanciful" and compares them to a "Miss Piggy shoe."

Which is why, some say high heels for baby might just be a one-of-a-kind novelty — like the Pet Rock and the Furby — which will soon fade away.

"They struck me as so novel, but kids will never wear them," admits Pitti Bimi owner Wright, who was first in line to buy the new booties. "You take them to the hospital and offer congrats to the baby girl. It's an impulse item that will be replaced with another hilarious impulse item."

Still, Wright, who has run her children's stores for 25 years, said, "I expect some star is going to have one as a gift item and it will end up in People magazine," she said.

Indeed, in the two weeks since sales began, Heelarious has sold 2,000 pairs to customers in London, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway and Belgium. The company just shipped 20 pairs to Brazil.

"I think our big market was for women who are shoe crazy," said Porter, a self-confessed "shoe freak" who has 100 boxes in her closet. "They also think the idea is hysterical and crazy."

Bacon and Porter have, no doubt, anticipated the fickleness of the American consumer. Their next two products are already in the line-up. One, for baby boys, is called "Helarious," but its design is still being kept a secret.

"I think that name of our company spells out our intentions," said Bacon. "We are supposed to be lighthearted and funny."

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