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Nine West wants to sell you ‘Husband Hunting’ shoes

Leopard-print pumps, platform booties, peep toe sandals — these are the shoes Nine West promises will snag you a husband. sports a “husband hunting” checklist for customers. Photo from

And no, that’s not a retro ad from 1950. And no, that’s not a joke. The shoe giant’s latest ad campaign involves a dartboard, arrows and the actual words “Starter Husband Hunting … Shoe on the Prowl? Start Hunting.”

“Starter Husband Hunting” is one of two “Shoe Occasions” collections Nine West debuted Aug. 1. The other: “First Day of Kindergarten.” The kindergarten collection — purportedly designed to temper the sadness as “the waterworks” hit when the bus drives away — includes strappy sandals, tassel loafers and even “lobster smoking slippers.”

A pair of shoes featured in Nine West’s “First Day of Kindergaten” collection. Photo from

But it’s not that the actual shoe selection is ridiculous — the entire campaign verges on an outdated premise, that women wear shoes for men, or for children, or for anyone besides, well, themselves.

The “First Day of Kindergarten” collection debuted on last week. Photo from

A print ad features a woman carrying a heavy tote bag, with two Nine West flip-flops peeking out. The ad copy reads: “The Anticipatory Walk of Shame.”

Erika Szychowski, senior vice president of marketing for Nine West, acknowledged that the campaign was taking risks. She told The New York Times that she anticipates the campaign will “make noise and get attention.”

“My gut tells me that it’s not offensive,” she told the Times. “And it’s not just my gut but the incredibly active, large community of people that we work with both internally and externally — it’s actually resonating for them.”

On the Internet, women disagree. On Twitter, users responded to Nine West’s “husband hunting” campaign tweet with expressions of disgust and disappointment.

Much of the reaction comes from women demanding “Shoe Occasions” that go beyond the life of husbands, children and homemaking — maybe, as one woman suggests below, venturing as far as the boardroom.

Julia Carpenter is a digital audience producer at The Washington Post.

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