Yesterday evening David Bell from Pretty Ballerinas held a talk for the University of the Arts Retail & Luxury Club. Here’s a recap of what he spoke about!

The Pretty Ballerinas Logo as taken from their homepage.

The Pretty Ballerinas Logo as taken from their homepage.


  • The brand was launched in 2005 as an internet-only brand under Mascaro, a shoe manufacturer that’s been around for over 90 years.
  • More general info about the brand can be found here.

Brand identity

Logo: As can be seen above.

Product & services: The product offering is wide and shallow, meaning that only a few different shapes of ballerinas are offered but these are available in a multitude of different colors and fabrics.

Retail environment: According to David, “you need retail to be a brand” because it enables the customer to enter the “world of the brand” and is hence even more effective for creating a brand identity than PR is. The retail concept is to run tiny shops that are “like a box of chocolates” in prime locations near luxury stores. The first store Pretty Ballerinas opened is the one on 34 Brook Street in London and according to David, “you couldn’t swing a cane in there… and it looks packed if there’s three people inside.” He mentioned that this lack of space plays on the competitive nature of women – they become eager to find their shoes in their size because they know availability is limited due to she small size of the shop limiting the amount of stock that can be held. All shops use the color pink – they usually have pink walls – the highlight the feminine aspect of the brand.

Promotion, advertising & PR: Pretty Ballerinas does not do advertising. They only use PR. They appoint a PR company and have managed to get some great exposure this way. David mentioned that he makes sure to send images of all ballerinas in all colors to magazines, so that they can easily use these when they create stories about a certain color trend. Pretty Ballerinas apparently gets 40% of their press this way – what a simple yet genius move! It was also highlighted that celebrity exposure is highly important for solidifying Pretty Ballerina’s brand image and value proposition to justify the price of the shoes:

If you think we’re a brand, we’re cheap. If you don’t think we’re a brand, we’re expensive

– David Bell about how brand image affects value perception

In other words, when people see celebrities wearing Pretty Ballerinas, the value of the shoes increases in their minds and they consequently consider the price points to be ‘cheap,’ considering the fact that even celebrities wear them (celebrity endorsement = the shoes must have value). However, if celebrities were not wearing the brand, the perceived brand value would be lower and the price point may appear too high for the average customer, because Pretty Ballerinas would then not have set itself apart enough from other high-street brands that do ballerinas. I think this was a great point about how important PR and celebrity endorsement is nowadays.

David Bell has also created special packaging for the ballerinas in order to entice magazines to feature them – for example a Pretty Ballerinas tin, Pretty Ballerinas travel bags or a Pretty Ballerinas fashion emergency pack (‘only open if your feet are killing you’). They have also started using popular bloggers in their product catalogues to entice them to feature Pretty Ballerinas on their blog. And for new store launches, members of the press are gifted with shoes in nice packaging and the stories about celebrities wearing the ballerinas are ‘fed’ to them beforehand.

Website: David admitted that sales in their stores are more important than sales made through the Pretty Ballerinas website because the company also sells their shoes to other large online retailers such as Zalando. “In terms of website – watch this space.”

David Bell giving his talk at the London College of Fashion.

David Bell giving his talk at the London College of Fashion.

Brand personality

According to David, the target customer is:

A feminine lady, but if you mess around [with her] a bit too much, she might punch your lights out

– David Bell on the Pretty Ballerinas woman

He said that this is why the color pink and the leopard pattern are used often – pink for the feminine side, and leopard for the – in his words – “rawr.”

USP: Their unique selling point is that they are fun and that there is such a large variety of designs.


Pretty Ballerinas has also launched a line for kids, a line of Pretty Ballerina bags, and a line of loafers for men. Let’s see how those do!

The talk was very interesting and shed light on some very interesting aspects of marketing. I thought especially David’s insights on the importance of PR was insightful. It showed how far a brand can go, and how much a brand can promote itself nowadays, without spending any money on actual advertising.

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About Anna Abrell

Postgraduate at the London College of Fashion, studying MA Strategic Fashion Marketing.


Brands & Branding, Industry Professionals


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