5 Reasons Steve Madden Is Company of the Year

Caroline Vreeland wearing a Steve Madden
Caroline Vreeland for Steve Madden.
Phil Walters for Footwear News

Tough times may be hitting retail hard, but a quick glance at Steve Madden’s performance during the past year gives hardly a hint that anything in the industry is amiss.

The fashion-footwear megafirm will take home the Company of the Year award at the FN Achievement Awards on Nov. 28.

And there’s little wonder why.

Read on as we break down five of the major reasons.

Perpetually On-Trend

Few brands understand the importance of keeping on top of trends quite like Steve Madden. The label this year was heads above the rest in the low- to moderate-priced fashion footwear space — displaying an uncanny ability to lure in tepid shoppers who have largely shifted wallet share to experiential and other kinds of spending.

Throughout 2017, revenues for Steve Madden women’s, men’s and Madden Girl products continued to be the major growth engines for the company — most recently driving its Q3 wholesale sales up nearly 9 percent to $376.9 million.

Steve Madden sandal shoes Steve Madden Carrson block-heel sandal. Steve Madden

Master Acquirer

While the Steve Madden brand has been a household name for nearly three decades, the company has been aggressive about boosting its arsenal with a host of other successful labels, including Betsey Johnson, Brian Atwood and Blondo. At the start of 2017, the company added previously family-owned firm Schwartz & Benjamin to its portfolio, and it’s already paying off. In the most recent quarter alone, Schwartz & Benjamin contributed $25 million to Madden’s revenues. (Through the acquisition, Steve Madden also became the footwear licensee for Kate Spade.)

betsey johnson, slides Betsey Johnson Solar slip-on, betseyjohnson.com. Courtesy of betseyjohnson.com

Ribbon Cutter

As competitors and other footwear-and-apparel firms shutter doors left and right, Steve Madden just opened a mega flagship store in New York’s Times Square — a highly sought-after and costly real estate venture.

The 2,000-square-foot space, opened in August, is the company’s largest store in terms of square footage and has also become its No. 1 door in sales in just three months.

As Times Square is one of the most heavily trafficked retail areas in the world, it’s no small marketing vehicle for the brand, either.

Steve Madden store new york times square Steve Madden’s new flagship store in Times Square. Courtesy of Steve Madden

Fast Where & When It Counts

Well before retail’s downturn, Steve Madden had built a business focused on speed and agility. Now, with digital rising at a frenetic pace and consumers’ becoming more demanding than ever before, Madden has found itself in the sweet spot.

With a footwear factory located right on its Long Island, N.Y., campus, the company is able to react, adapt and churn out trends at lightning speed.

Revenue Generator

The current retail climate has forced many internal stakeholders and outsiders to grow accustomed to quarterly losses as many companies work through industrywide challenges and hash out strategies.

But, in 2017, Steve Madden has managed to accomplish the rare feat of keeping its revenues headed upward — posting sales gains of 11 percent, 15 percent and 8 percent in Q1, Q2 and Q3 respectively.

Overall, the company expects to keep the momentum going and close the year with revenues up 9 percent to 11 percent.

Steve Madden Steve Madden Courtesy of company

This marks the 31st year of the FN Achievement Awards, often dubbed the “Shoe Oscars.” The much-anticipated event will be held on Nov. 28 at the IAC Building in New York and will honor the brightest stars of the business. Among them: Company of the Year Steve Madden, Collaborator of the Year Ronnie Fieg and Style Influencer of the Year Hailey Baldwin. Additionally, Stan Smith will receive the Manolo Blahnik Lifetime Achievement Award, and the crown for Shoe of the Year will go to Virgil Abloh’s Air Jordan 1.

This year will mark the fifth time Steve Madden received the Company of the Year honor.