Eric Rutberg is getting close with Steve Madden.
Not only was the designer appointed creative director of Betsey Johnson Footwear earlier this month, but Rutberg snagged a 50-50 deal with Steven Madden Ltd. for his Eric Rutberg Transparent line.
“[By] teaming up with Steve Madden in what is clearly a great selling and back-office structure, I expect their guidance will make an increased retail presence a reality for me and the Eric Rutberg Transparent line,” he told Footwear News.
Eric Rutberg Transparent will fall under Madden’s Luxury Brand division, home of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s Elizabeth & James. While Rutberg will continue to design the collection, which launched for spring ’12, Madden’s team will cover sales and marketing.
“The guy is one of the greatest talents in the shoe business,” said Madden, who has known Rutberg for more than 20 years. “I’m honored to work with him, and we’re lucky he’s part of the team.”
Currently Eric Rutberg Transparent retails for $185 to $295 at select Neiman Marcus locations, Zappos.com and independents like KoKo & Palenki in Miami. Growth abroad is also in the works.
“I am looking, as any designer would, to globally find partners who understand the aesthetic of a young, modern line,” he said.
And Madden said Rutberg will have no problem growing his retail roster. “If he makes the great shoes he’s been making, he’ll be in all the right stores, and I think the sky’s the limit for him,” Madden said.
The new position at Betsey Johnson marks a homecoming of sorts for Rutberg, who launched the collection as lead footwear designer at Titan Industries Inc. eight years ago. Going forward, he said, he already has a vision for the shoes.
“I am looking to bring a sense of heritage back to the line: a young, slightly rebellious and feminine spirit reminiscent of Betsey’s early days, with a more modern twist,” he said.