Stanley Silverstein, co-founder, chairman and the creative force behind Nina Footwear, died on Thursday. He was 91.
While Silverstein’s brother and partner, Mike, who launched the business with him in 1953, preferred the spotlight, serving as sales and business head, Stanley opted to remain behind the scenes.
“Stanley and I complemented each other,” said Mike Silverstein, who died in 2013. “His strengths and abilities were always in design and manufacturing. I was great with numbers, and I was a natural-born salesman.
“Our dad had the vision to create, the faith to believe and the courage to do,” said Nina Miner, Nina’s chief creative officer. “Whatever project he was involved in, he made it happen. At almost 92 years of age, he had many more projects on his agenda. He never really retired from Nina, as we all looked to him for creative guidance in so many ways. He was a visionary of magnificent intelligence, and we are committed to supporting and growing Nina, the beautiful jewel he left to us.”
Stanley Silverstein also impacted the footwear careers of others, including Dick Jacobson, former Nina EVP and FFANY president. “He was the genius behind the curtain,” said Jacobson. “He could tell the strength of leather by touching it. He was the most creative man I ever worked with.”
Like Jacobson, Ann Froman, a Nina designer in the ‘60s and ’70s, acknowledged his expertise in the industry. “He was my mentor,” said Froman, who began her career at the company in her early 20s. “He taught me how to make a pattern, how to make heels and how to run a shoe through the factory.”
The Silversteins grew up in the shoe business. Their father had operated a factory in Cuba before the family immigrated to the U.S. in the early ‘40s. The brothers eventually opened their own business, producing their now-signature clogs out of their New York factory.
Over the next four decades, the family business evolved into a global footwear powerhouse, with the brothers eventually shifting production overseas to Asia and Europe. Today, in addition to the Nina women’s collection, the company has expanded into accessories and more recently children’s.
Silverstein’s daughter Flori Silverstein oversees Nina Originals and Delman as creative director, while his daughter Renee Dabah oversees Nina’s handbag and jewelry collections. Silverstein’s son-in-law Ezra Dabah is CEO of Nina Footwear.
In addition to his wife, Raine, and three aforementioned daughters, he is also survived by his daughter Ami Reines; 11 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren.
In addition to his passion for the shoe industry, Silverstein and his wife were recognized for their contributions to Jewish education and philanthropy.