The Quirky Way Legendary Designer Stuart Weitzman Handles Disagreements at Work

Stuart-Weitzman
Stuart Weitzman is retiring in May, after more than 50 years in the shoe industry.
Axel Dupeux.

Over five decades Stuart Weitzman built a women’s footwear empire that counts nearly every Hollywood A-lister and supermodel as a fan and client. And even when Coach snapped up the designer’s eponymous label in 2015 the accolades and star sightings continued to roll in.

With just months remaining before the 75-year-old designer hangs up his hat, Footwear News caught up with Coach CEO Victor Luis to discuss Weitzman’s legacy.

Here, Luis reflects on meeting the designer and the weird way he sometimes handles disagreements at the office.

On meeting Weitzman:
“I met Stuart for the first time — through the due diligence process — when Coach was thinking about acquiring the Stuart Weitzman brand in late 2014. I was aware of the brand and the business more than Stuart Weitzman, the man, the designer and craftsman. My initial impression was that he was someone with great attention to detail and a great passion for product. He had a tremendous desire to constantly produce and design great shoes — not only from an aesthetic perspective but, just as importantly, from a comfort perspective and that impressed me a great deal.”

On what the Stuart Weitzman brand brings to Coach:
“The brand speaks for itself. It’s independent of Coach and has very loyal customers. It has a unique positioning in its category as the leader in footwear. Coach, of course, leads in the handbag and accessories space. I think they’re very complementary. We have the opportunity to teach the Stuart Weitzman team a lot about the handbag space, and the Stuart Weitzman team has a tremendous opportunity to teach the Coach team about the footwear space. And that’s work that we’re undertaking right now.”

On Weitzman’s legacy:
“Without a doubt, his legacy first and foremost is his many happy consumers. Then, the brand itself — the fact that it is healthy in the business with a group of individuals who will now take it into its next chapter.”

On how Weitzman uses his hidden talent to solve disagreements:
“Stuart is a very unique human being with hobbies outside of footwear as well. It’s not very known that in one of our facilities in Spain he has a pingpong table. And he’ll often try to settle differences over a game of pingpong and he’ll bet you on it. But what he doesn’t often share is that he has trained with a master player and is at a very high level. So it’s not very smart to bet [against] Stuart Weitzman in a game of pingpong.”

Stuart Weitzman and Gigi HadidStuart Weitzman and Gigi Hadid. David Fisher/ REX