In the town of Northampton, in the East Midlands of England, Charlie Price is attempting to save the family shoe factory, which has been floundering since his father died. While on a business trip to London to sell the company's extra stock, Charlie encounters a woman being harassed by drunken hoodlums and intervenes to his detriment. He wakes up backstage, in the dressing room of Lola, a drag queen performer and alter ego of Simon. Charlie is intrigued when he sees that drag queens' high heels snap easily since they have only women's shoes to wear, rather than those that can support the weight of a larger male body frame. Back in Northampton, while in the process of laying off workers, one employee, Lauren, gives Charlie the idea of looking for a niche market product to save the business. Charlie then recruits Lauren to assist him in designing a high-heeled boot for drag performers.
When their initial designs are met with scorn by Lola, Charlie and Lauren bring her on as a consultant. The road is initially bumpy: many of the male employees are uncomfortable with Lola's presence and the new direction, and Charlie's relationship with his fiancée, Nicola, begins to deteriorate as she encourages him to sell the factory building to a real estate developer. Although things improve when Lola tones down her personality and starts making friends, matters take a turn for the worse when Charlie is invited to showcase the new boots in Milan; the strain he puts on his employees causes most of them, including Lola, to walk out.
Charlie's fiancée arrives at the factory, furious that he took out a second mortgage on their house to save the company. Nicola insists that he sell the company, but Charlie is determined to save it and the jobs of his employees. The argument (which ends with Nicola leaving Charlie) is broadcast on the factory's PA system, which is overheard by Lauren and Lola's bitterest opponent at the factory, Don, a chauvinistic male worker. Don turns over a new leaf after Lola had graciously allowed him to win an arm wrestling match, and rallies the factory workers to make the boots in time for Charlie and Lauren to get to Milan. When Charlie catches Nicola with another man, he angrily takes out his frustrations on Lola, causing Lola to quit. After arriving in Milan with no one to model the boots, Charlie is forced to go onstage and model the boots himself. After tripping and ultimately falling flat on his face, Lola and her posse of drag queens arrive, put on a spectacular runway show, and save the day.
In the film's denouement, Lola headlines her own show and sings a song in honor of the "kinky boots factory" of Northampton. Most of the key workers are in attendance and enjoying themselves, including Charlie and Lauren, who have become a couple.Joel Edgerton as Charlie
Sebastian Hurst-Palmer as Young Charlie
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Lola
Courtney Philip as Young Lola
Sarah-Jane Potts as Lauren
Jemima Rooper as Nicola
Nick Frost as Don
Linda Bassett as Melanie
Robert Pugh as Harold Price
Ewan Hooper as George
Stephen Marcus as Big Mike
Mona Hammond as Pat
Kellie Bright as Jeannie
Joanna Scanlan as Trish
Geoffrey Streatfeild as Richard Bailey
Leo Bill as Harry Sampson
An episode of BBC2 documentary series Trouble at the Top, broadcast on 24 February 1999, inspired the film the former featured Steve Pateman struggling with possible closure of W.J. Brooks Ltd, a family-controlled Earls Barton, Northamptonshire shoe factory, that soon catered to the male market for fetish footwear under the "Divine" brand.
The Kinky Boots: Original Soundtrack was released on April 11, 2006 by Hollywood Records.
- "Whatever Lola Wants" – Chiwetel Ejiofor (2:12)
- "In These Shoes" – Kirsty MacColl (3:39)
- "I Want to Be Evil" – Chiwetel Ejiofor (2:34)
- "Mr. Big Stuff" – Lyn Collins (4:00)
- "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" – James Brown (3:17)
- "I Put a Spell on You" – Nina Simone (2:36)
- "The Prettiest Star" – David Bowie (3:09)
- "Together We Are Beautiful" – Chiwetel Ejiofor (4:10)
- "Yes Sir I Can Boogie" – Chiwetel Ejiofor (4:20)
- "Wild Is the Wind" – Nina Simone (6:59)
- "The Red Shoes" – Adrian Johnston (4:26)
- "Steel Shank" – Adrian Johnston (3:39)
- "Free to Walk" – Adrian Johnston (3:39)
The following songs are included in the film but are not on the Original Soundtrack:“My Heart Belongs to Daddy – Chiwetel Ejiofor
“These Boots Are Made for Walkin'” – Chiwetel Ejiofor
"Summer Holiday" – Jemima Rooper
The film received mixed reviews on release, with critics decrying the "formulaic Britcom plot". Critics aggregated by Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a combined rating of 57% based on 107 reviews.
The film earned a total of $9,941,428 internationally.
Ejiofor was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
A stage musical adaptation of the same name Kinky Boots debuted on Broadway in April 2013, following an out-of-town try-out at the Bank of America Theatre in Chicago; Cyndi Lauper, music and lyrics; and Harvey Fierstein, co-wrote book. Director Jerry Mitchell is also the choreographer.
The Chicago cast included: Billy Porter and Stark Sands. At the 67th Tony Awards (2013) won six Tony Awards, including Tony Award for Best Original Score (Lauper, first sole female winner), Best Actor (Porter) and Best Musical.
On April 11, 2017 it was announced that Panic! at the Disco singer Brendon Urie would be playing Charlie that summer on Broadway.