Exclusive: Model Pritika Swarup Talks First Footwear Collab With Ilio Smeraldo
Pritika Swarup is dipping her feet into a new business venture: footwear.
The model and beauty brand founder teamed up with Italian shoe brand Ilio Smeraldo, part of shoe specialist group Gia Borghini, to release a capsule collection with three new shoe styles. The styles include two platform sandals, as well as a strappy stiletto heel, making the perfect addition to any summer wardrobe. The platforms, titled Pritika 01 are available in a black colorway as well as a brown, and the heel, titled Pritika 02, is available in black. Each of the shoes are created from soft Italian leather that is seen throughout Ilio Smeraldo’s collections.
“I wanted this collection to be timeless, but edgy,” Swarup told FN. “That’s kind of like my style. I only ever buy pieces that I feel I will wear over and over again and would wear in 10 years.”
Swarup first met Gia Borghini‘s founder Barbara Borghini at Paris Fashion Week, which kicked off the unplanned collaboration. The two started working together in February 2022, and over time Swarup became immersed in the creative process. While this was Swarup’s first official design project within the fashion space, she was no stranger to the process of creating new products. She launched her skincare brand, Prakti Beauty in 2021. Similar to testing her beauty products before customers get their hands on it, Swarup said that the footwear capsule ran various iterations before landing on the final sandals. Also similar to Prakti, Swarup was involved from start to finish.
“[The design team] encouraged me at every step of the way to go there and show them the craziest ideas,” Swarup said. “I feel like from the beginning, it was just so much freedom to decide and to really put out my own ideas.”
Ilio Smeraldo’s core brand values includes giving back, empowering women as well as diversity, which is a big reason Swarup was initially interested in the collaboration.
Ilio Smeraldo donates 10% of its online sales to Fondazione Fiorenzo Fratini, an NGO supporting children in need of help and psychological counseling. Swarup both professionally and personally aligns with these values; she serves as a global ambassador for Operation Smile, and she also started Prakti on a foundation of diversity and inclusion.
“When I think about diversity and inclusivity, that’s not something that’s been around for so long,” Swarup said. “We want to represent the true diversity of this world, and that should just be something constant and consistent and real. I think we have some ways to go, but I know that it’s going in the right direction.”
“We have such an opportunity, being in the fashion and the beauty industries, to really make an impact in a meaningful way,” Swarup added. “It’s so much more important now to give back and to also be really transparent about your processes, who you are as a company and what you stand for.”
The collection launches on Friday and will be available on Ilio Smeraldo’s website as well as a few select retailers. The sandal retails for $680 and the heel style is priced at $530.