Robert Greenberg has a lifetime of memories — and FN’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner shared some very memorable moments on stage Wednesday night. Here are a few highlights:
On his earliest days in the business: “When I started L.A. Gear, I found a sneaker with a rubber toe that I kind of liked. I made it up in 10 colors and that was it. We went to the Chicago shoe show and rented a T-bird convertible and covered the car from end to another. I thought when this style runs out, I’m going to close and take the money.”
On discovering a hit style (from Reebok): “Bob Campbell enters my life and one day he comes into my office and takes out a shoe. He says, ‘This is going to be Reebok’s next big shoe.’ So I said maybe I’ll change the name from Reebok to L.A. Gear and see how it looks. [Next thing I knew], we had 30,000 pairs with the L.A. Gear name. I went to another show in Long Beach and the [sales rep] said, ‘Do you have anything you want to show to people?’ I said just don’t show them that shoe. A week goes by and I’m reading the next FN and I turn to the centerfold.. I’m horrified to see the shoe. Thank you FN for my first lawsuit!”
On the magic of the FNAAs: “I was in five or six businesses before I found this industry by accident. None of these industries had Footwear News or these kind of special nights. It’s like the Academy Awards. They bring us all together.”
On what he couldn’t forget from fellow winner Edgardo Osorio’s acceptance speech: “[He talked about] a suitcase full of dreams. That’s going to be my next ad campaign.”
On building two powerhouse brands: L.A. Gear was my school, Skechers is my Picasso.”
Click through the gallery to see Greenberg and other FNAA winners on the red carpet.