How Shoe Giant Caleres Is Dealing With a Rapidly Changing Fashion Industry

diane sullivan, caleres
Diane Sullivan, CEO, president and chairman of Caleres, at the Footwear News CEO Summit.
Patrick MacLeod

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

That was Diane Sullivan’s guiding statement to executives at the FN CEO Summit in Miami today. The chairman, CEO and president of Caleres Inc. added, “These are historic times in the industry. We’re experiencing a pace of change unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.”

Caleres Diane Sullivan, CEO, president and chairman of Caleres, at the Footwear News CEO Summit. Patrick MacLeod

She noted that to stay nimble, her organization has been making significant investments over the last few years to identify and strengthen what she termed its “truths” — “these are the underpinnings of who you are and what you can never lose sight of.”

For the Sam Edelman brand, she explained, that was Sam himself.

For spring ’17, the label unveiled a new concept for its ad campaign, built around Edelman’s history in shoe design and his wide range of influences.

Shot in New York by photographer Henrique Gendre, the campaign stars model Jenna Kelly in a series of images that exude whimsy and hint at an artist’s craft.

Sullivan explained that the Caleres team conducted a deep examination of the business to determine where it needed to go next for 2017. “We wanted to unearth what made the brand different and how we could tell that story,” she said.

Ultimately, it aimed to celebrate what had made the label successful. “[The Sam Edelman customer] sees her personal style as art. And Sam Edelman invites women to fall in love with what we love.”

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