Even on the occasion of his company’s 10-year anniversary, Marc Fisher isn’t keen on looking back.
The best moment for the founder of a footwear powerhouse with five in-house brands and nine licensed labels?
“We’re in it right now,” Fisher told Footwear News when he sat down to reminisce about his storied career in shoes. “I started Marc Fisher Footwear because I wanted to have my own business, and I wanted to work with people who I knew I’d enjoy working [with].”
On the heels of his high-profile deal with Kendall and Kylie Jenner — the world’s most socially connected teenagers — Fisher recently unveiled a new social media philanthropic endeavor called #makeyourmarc, with frontwoman Karlie Kloss, and bowed an e-commerce website for both his namesake and LTD lines that launched on Aug. 25.
“We’re a young shoe company — and we’re hungrier today than when we first opened our doors,” said the CEO.
It’s still early in Fisher’s journey with his own company, but his history in footwear is extensive and his love of creating women’s shoes is almost a birthright.
“My grandfather made women’s shoes, my dad started with a women’s shoe factory when he was 26 years old and here I am making women’s shoes,” Fisher said.
Marc Fisher’s father, of course, is renowned Nine West co-founder Jack Fisher. The younger Fisher spent 23 years of his career in various roles at Nine West, including sales, product development and sourcing before his departure in 2003.
“I introduced Marc to the shoe business from a young age as our way of spending time together. Soon my passion was Marc’s passion, and he was off to Brazil to study shoemaking,” Jack Fisher said. “He was a natural — always listening, learning and becoming fluent in both the art and business of shoes.”
That fluency has proven to be crucial to navigating the treacherous waves of today’s footwear business.
Here, Fisher talks footwear trends, competition and his high-profile footwear licenses.
Does the 10-year milestone make you nostalgic?
Marc Fisher: I don’t focus a lot on it. I was at the FN Platform shoe show in August and at another shoe show in New York a few weeks before that, and I think the nostalgia comes when I see people I worked with 35 years ago and we start talking about things that happened in 1985. But I think more about what’s ahead.
Did you have a hard time transitioning from Nine West to running your own company?
MF: From 1984 to 1999, I ran the whole private-label division at Nine West, which was [focused on] developing the product and selling the product. So I didn’t have an executive role where I was behind a desk. I spent half the year in Brazil [developing product] and the other half on the road selling shoes. I was working with the product every day. That’s what I do [now], and it’s what I love to do.
What do you enjoy most about it?
MF: The seasons. It’s a challenging business, but I love the change [that comes with] starting over every six months. I also love working with Susan [Itzkowitz] and all of our people. We have a business-oriented but friendly environment. We do lots of fun company events.
What are your thoughts on the much-discussed lack of trends in fashion footwear recently?
MF: It comes down to whether you view the glass as half-empty or half-full. You can say there are no trends, but we’re selling shoes every day. And if there is a lack of trends, you need to create new trends but, more importantly, you need to look at what women are wearing and make that [type of shoe] — but put a little twist on it with new colors and materials and make sure it’s comfortable. But I think there’s always a trend. When people say there are no trends, it’s almost an excuse for why their business isn’t doing well.
Why do you think brands like Kendall + Kylie, Ivanka Trump, Tommy Hilfiger and others chose Marc Fisher to be its footwear licensee?
MF: It’s an easy decision — we’re the magicians of making great product. They know we have a great sensibility and a passion for product. We have great people, we are incredibly honorable and we know how to build brands. They trust us. When you look at the Tommy Hilfiger, Guess and Ivanka Trump products — everything is so different. Everything has its own personality and its own smell. That’s why they come to us.
Who’s your biggest competition?
MF: We make shoes from $30 to $500, so I don’t think about one company as being my competition. I was trained to focus on what we do and to do it the best we can. Obviously, we are out looking at other people’s shoes every day, and that helps us get better — we have to be aware of what everyone is doing in the marketplace. But we try to focus within.
Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
MF: Our goal is to get to $1 billion [in sales] in the next three to five years. We’re going to do that with the new brands and initiatives we’re introducing and also with our existing businesses. We want to build a great shoe company for the future, and we’re learning about what that’s going to look like.