Tupperware is thinking out of the plastic box

They didn't exactly appear comfortable. In fact, they looked like a nasty tumble waiting to happen. They were the Tupperware-inspired ballerina shoes worn at designer Cynthia Rowley's recent runway show during Fashion Week in New York.

Uncomfortable? Dangerous? The same words could be used to describe Manolo Blahnik's stilettos and Jimmy Choo's skyscraper sandals.


But what made Rowley's shoes so nifty, despite their appearance, was her unusual collaboration with Tupperware, not exactly a company one associates with designer chic. Rowley said she was inspired by her love of Tupperware to create the 2-inch plastic-heeled ballerina slippers as well as the thick plastic headbands.

Not exactly the Jordan Almond-colored storage containers you remember from Mom's cupboard. But Tupperware, nonetheless.


"Tupperware was so great in helping me realize my vision for spring 2006," Rowley said in a press release. "I like to call it TupperWEAR."

The folks at the 59-year-old Tupperware company couldn't be happier with this downtown vibe. In an effort to reinvent and expand the brand, Tupperware has been forging atypical alliances and making hipper products. In May, it released the groovy-looking Heart Breaker, a kitchen gadget for taking the work out of shelling nuts and pitting olives. The same month, the company also brought back its Stuffables line with the new Stuffables Mini Set (expandable containers with flexible seals for odd-shaped foods). In November, it will start selling wine glasses forged from its unmistakable plastic.

Tupperware says it was only too happy to answer when Rowley came knocking. The company, known for its rather middle-America home parties, is apparently thinking out of the box (or out of the plastic bowl). "Our business and creative models are not as different as you'd think," CEO Rick Goings said of Tupperware's involvement with Rowley. "Consumers look for the same up-to-the-minute, beautiful designs for their kitchens as they do for their wardrobes."

In July, the company announced "Translations in Tupperware," its first major global design initiative. Tupperware invited consumers and designers from more than 20 countries to create a piece of art or unique functional product using Tupperware products as the basis for their inspiration. Who knows? We could very well be seeing Tupperware chairs, backpacks or jewelry in the future.

A Tupperware purse? A Tupperware sofa? Why not?

Greg Morago writes for The Hartford Courant.