Women’s Wear Daily
04.19.2014
markets
markets

Milestone: Industry Sounds off

Footwear News asked those who know him best why Steve Madden has become such a force.

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Ron Kenigsberg, president, Miz Mooz
“For a man as passionate, motivated and dedicated as Steve is to his trade, it really should come as no surprise that his company continues to grow and be successful 20 years after its launch. As an intern in the Madden marketing department, I was lucky enough to see firsthand what it took to keep the company on an upward trajectory. Steve is involved in all facets of his business, whether it be the color of a grommet on a lace-up boot, sellthrough with a particular customer, or the intended reach of a marketing strategy. Steve is there to give his insight and opinion. That being said, what I most admire in Steve is his understanding that fashion is not created in boardrooms and on storyboards, but rather by the customers he seeks to sell his product to. I believe it is this quality that has allowed Steve Madden to remain at the forefront of women’s fashion for so long.”

Richard Kirschenbaum, founder & owner, Shoebox, New York

“They’re great at what they do. Steve himself is probably the hardest-working individual I’ve ever seen. He is totally obsessed with his business. He knows every aspect of it, and when you put that much effort and passion into it, you’re successful. He’s the perfect example of effort and passion. In the toughest environment that any of us have ever seen, this guy has managed to rise to the top. It’s remarkable.”

Rachel Funk, merchandiser, Shoemall.com

“We’re very proud to have Steve Madden in our top 10 brands, and they are continually there, whether it’s spring or fall. We carry Madden Girl, Steve Madden and [in fall ’09] started carrying Steven by Steve Madden. So we have the opportunity to bring this brand to people no matter what their economic status may be. And [that customer] can grow up with the brand, so that’s pretty cool. It creates customer loyalty and a bond. You can evolve with the brand as it evolves.”

Jan Friedman, buyer, Jildor Shoes
“Jildor has carried Steve Madden as long as he’s been in business. [We’ve stuck with him over the years] because he’s creative and successful. This year we’ve done well with his shoes. He’s always on top of the latest trends. He brings excitement and creativity, which is something that the shoe business always needs. He understands my customer. I’ve known him since he was a young guy, but who would anticipate that anybody could be this successful? He has accomplished it by working very hard. Steve works very hard.”

Danny Wasserman, owner, Tip Top Shoes, New York

“Steve brings proof that you can start small and if you have the passion and surround yourself with good people, you will succeed most of the time. ... [He] made platforms and created a whole wardrobe with them, from penny loafers to sandals and boots, all at his price point for the junior customer. He was the first brand to really understand that customer and what she was willing to pay for fashion. ... [On top of that, he] has a charisma that makes him easy to talk to and is a great listener, and he also enjoys giving others opportunities that he feels he may never have received when he first started.”

Faryl Robin Morse, founder & CEO, Farylrobin

“Steve has been very good to me in my career. He’s very supportive, and I admire that. He’s a genius, and you can’t help but respect what he has accomplished. Steve lives and breathes shoes, and he is still one of the hardest-working men in the industry. He loves what he does; he’s a perfect example of someone who wakes up every day, psyched about what he’s doing.”

Elyse Walker, owner, Elyse Walker boutiques, Pacific Palisades, Calif.

“What sets Steve apart from others in the same brand category is that Steve is the brand category and everyone else is just his disciple. ... He surrounds himself with a team, and he delegates and empowers. I have personally gotten to know Rob [Schmertz, brand director] over the past few years. And the force that Steve and Rob have when they come to Los Angeles and shop my store is something fierce. They take over my stores like a New York whirlwind. They create energy and excitement, and it is both intoxicating and contagious. After they leave, my staff is on their game and ready to call customers and re-merchandise. It is they like just refueled our retail energy source.”

Jeff Van Sinderen, senior analyst, B. Riley & Co.
“The [affordable] price has helped them enormously in the recent business cycle. That, along with the fact that they have very short lead times. Those two things have helped quite a bit, again, really more in this business cycle than others. The consumer has been focused on value and price points, and the retailers have been focused on how short of a lead time they can get. Those are two major factors in [Madden’s] recent success. They’ve had extremely strong production in the past couple of years, really since Steve has come back [from jail].”

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