Why Zendaya Can’t Quit Her White Louboutin Pumps

It’s a love affair that began long before the Challengers press tour.

Collage by Ashley Peña
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Death, taxes, and Zendaya’s white Christian Louboutin pumps—the only true certainties in life. Of course, the idea that Zendaya and her trusted image maker, Law Roach, will present an on-theme, high fashion look with every incoming red carpet and press event is almost as likely, but even that isn’t as assured as the appearance of those red-bottomed, white heels.

At first, it was easy to ignore. Who’s looking at the shoes when they’re taking in Marc Jacob’s Louis Vuitton and custom Thom Browne? The recurrence of the Wimbledon-appropriate white color story of Zendaya’s Challengers looks also helped to make the shoes a natural choice at the beginning. But as the onslaught of the film’s press kept coming down the tracks like a never-ending cargo train, the predictability of Zendaya’s footwear could no longer be ignored—the woman loves a white Louboutin.

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To be fair, Zendaya has worn other shoes on this press tour. There were, of course, the custom, tennis ball-adorned Loewe heels the actress donned at the Rome photocall, as well as the green, crystal-embellished Loewe stilettos she wore with her Jonathan Anderson-designed look at the Australia premiere. And finally, the strappy, silver Louis Vuitton platforms custom-made for her second Marc Jacobs era Paris look. But that is it. Every other look (for which we have images of the shoes) has included those white pumps. I would bet good money that they were even hiding under that huge Vera Wang skirt.

The shoes in question are the Louboutin “So Kate” heels. Created in 2013, based on the “Kate” design, which came out a year prior, the “So Kate” style features a 120mm super-stiletto heel, and as a result, that sultry, plunging silhouette. And despite a possible misconception belied by Zendaya and Roach, the shoe does come in other colors. In fact, Roach himself recently showed off his stash of rainbow-painted “So Kate” options. Though it seems the red patent leather, purple suede, and cheetah print varieties are always rejected in favor of the crisp white.

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This love affair didn’t even start with the Challengers tour, it has been going on for years. Zendaya’s lookbook resembles an ad campaign for white Louboutins. A quick glimpse into the past tracks the provenance of the relationship back to CinemaCon in 2018, when the actress paired the footwear with an all-red Boss spring 2018 look. Since then, the shoes have popped up with relative consistency throughout the years—at the first season premiere of Euphoria in 2019, the 2021 premiere of Space Jam: A New Legacy, and even a Dune: Part 2 photocall back in February. Really, both Zendaya and Roach’s relationship with those heels is honorable, we should all hope for loyalty like that somewhere in our lives.

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So what is it about these shoes that have Roach and Zendaya in such a chokehold? Well, for one, they’re simple, easy, and go with just about everything. After Roach spends what must be countless hours pulling vintage Louis Vuitton or working with Lacoste on a custom set, it’s easier to throw these white pumps at a look than consider a whole new element that could otherwise compromise the rest of the outfit. It’s not uncommon for a stylist to stick to one specific shoe design for a press tour, especially when so much thought is being put into the outfits. Fans of Margot Robbie and Andrew Mukamal’s recent work will see parallels with their devotion to the Manolo Blahnik Jada mule, which Blahnik customized for Robbie in the perfect shades of pink, with a slightly higher heel for many of her Barbie looks.

As of now, Christian Louboutin has not spoken about working with Zendaya and Roach in any capacity, but one can imagine there may be some sort of behind-the-scenes partnership going on there. I mean, no one pulls off the “So Kate” style quite like Zendaya, and while they look more like torture devices than shoes to the uninitiated, the actress has been walking in them for so long that it’s likely second nature to her. In fact, Zendaya’s obsession with the shoe had led some to call for its renaming to the “So Zendaya” in the actress’ honor. Unfortunately, the design already has a namesake—Kate Moss. Either way, if Louboutin is looking to capitalize on all this press, they should hurry up and make the white variety of the “So Kate” available in the US, as currently, it’s only offering the still-towering, but not Zendaya-approved “Kate” 100 mm option.

Likely, the “So Kate” or “So Zendaya”—or whatever you want to call them—heels will remain a permanent part of the young actress’ wardrobe. Maybe they’ll even make an appearance at the Met Gala as Zendaya fulfills her co-chairing duties next month. Or, perhaps all the chit-chat and memes around the wardrobe staple have reached Roach’s ears, and he will move on to another pair. In all reality, though, Roach will continue to work as he wishes, and if that means a white pump with every look, then a white pump with every look we shall get, and we shall eat up, accordingly. As they say, why fix what isn’t broken? And there’s nothing broken about what Roach and Zendaya are doing.