What began as a reported $1100 investment in 1990 developed into one of the most iconic footwear brands. From a modest production house in Queens New York.. Steve Madden revolutionised the footwear industry with creative designs inspired by rock and roll and his New York roots. Today Steven Madden Ltd. designs- sources- markets and sells fashion-forward branded and private label footwear and accessories for men and women in over twenty countries worldwide.
What began as an $1100 investment by a University of Miami dropout.. selling shoes out of the trunk of his car in Long Island.. developed into one of the most iconic brands that revolutionised the footwear industry with edgy designs inspired by the footwear designer’s New York roots and rock ‘n’ roll. From a modest production house in Queens, NY, Steve Madden Ltd. was incorporated in New York on July 9, 1990 and reincorporated under the same name in Delaware in November 1998. Over a decade Steve Madden built his brand into a publicly traded company and the ladies couldn’t get enough of his platform Mary Janes.. sexy black sandals.. and platform sneakers.
The American fashion designer was then in the news for all the wrong reasons. In June 2000 a class action lawsuit was filed against Madden for issuing materially false and misleading statements during the Class Period. It consequently led to a settlement of $9 million. In 2001 the SEC filed charges against Madden in Federal Court, New York alleging SEC violations and sought to recover $1,637,000 for illegally avoided losses, interest and a civil penalty. The following year Madden was convicted of stock manipulation, money laundering and securities fraud and sentenced to thirty-one months in federal prison at a time when business was booming.
In court, the contrite shoemaker said: “I am guilty of stupidity, arrogance and greed. I deeply regret all the things I’ve done.” Due to this development he resigned as CEO of Steven Madden Ltd. and from the board of directors. However- in a genius move- Steven Madden, Ltd. signed a ten-year contract as a creative consultant and drew $700,000 while in prison while his childhood friend Jamie Karson was appointed CEO!
Per The New York Times: While the indictment has severely damaged Steve Madden Limited’s standing on Wall Street – there’s a consolidated class-action shareholder lawsuit pending against the company and it has hired Bear Stearns to explore “all possible strategic options” including an outright sale – it hasn’t tarnished Steve Madden’s reputation as a design and marketing genius.
Prison didn’t break Steve Madden. Following his release in April 2005 he began designing shoes with a vengeance and the brand got a new lease on life with sales reportedly touching $475.2 million in 2006. That year, Steven Madden Ltd. was named “Company of the Year” for the second time at Footwear News Achievement Awards. With Madden at the helm as the founder and design chief.. the brand continues to show growth year-over-year.
Until the pandemic. Per BoF: In the second quarter the company’s consolidated revenues increased 178.6 percent year-on-year. While this represents a significant recovery from the depths of last year’s Covid-19 crisis it remains 11.5 percent below Steve Madden’s revenues in the same quarter of 2019 prior to the widespread outbreak of the pandemic….”
Well Steve Madden has a nugget of wisdom- per Teen Vogue: “I think that- early on- a lot of designers are very self-indulgent and they should be aware of self-indulgence. Designing shoes that you like? I don’t think that’s that interesting. I think it’s more interesting to design for the person that you’re designing for. You have someone in mind and that’s real talent. Like- if you were a chef- you would be making food that people like. Forge your own path.”
Considered the fashion footwear mogul of the twenty-first century, Steve Madden has been responsible for the design and marketing of the company’s trendsetting shoes since he founded the brand over two decades ago. “Our main mission is to consistently deliver trend right designs to our customers. To further build our business we will leverage our tremendous brand equity.. dominant position in fashion-forward footwear.. and industry-leading design team and will work to ensure that Steven Madden Ltd. emerges as a global lifestyle branded company.”
Steve Madden represents a lifestyle. It envisions embracing fashion while still maintaining the creative independence that first defined the brand twenty years ago. With product offering now including accessories such as watches, jewellery, handbags and belts, Steve Madden is always looking towards the future of fashion. And with an emphasis on retail, wholesale, licensing and international business, the brand vision is continuously evolving. “What inspires me is what I see people wearing on the streets of the world from New York to London and beyond. I get my ideas and inspiration from pounding the pavement all over the world” – he says.
Steve Madden has been recognized with multiple awards including Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2001 and the AEO Design Legend Award in 2010.
Footwear- handbags and accessories.