Power 100: The Most Influential Designers, Influencers and Leaders in the Shoe Industry

Blockbuster M&A deals. Seismic retail shifts. C-suite shuffles. In a year defined by changes and challenges, footwear’s most powerful execs forged ahead with aggressive moves to stay on top. Victor Luis (Tapestry), John Idol (Michael Kors) and Mike George (QVC) all engineered game-changing acquisitions that instantly altered the playing field. Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and rival Doug McMillon (Walmart) definitely weren’t shy about their fashion ambitions — and the two behemoths tried to one-up each other with tech launches, smart digital initiatives and corporate buys of their own. In the battle of the athletic giants, Kasper Rorsted and Mark King (Adidas) raised the stakes again with hot product and cool collabs during tough times for the overall sector. Luxury also lost some of its luster, but global design talents Gianvito Rossi and Virgil Abloh made impressive strides by churning out must-have styles that consumers and celebs alike wanted to get their hands on.

For the list of power brokers, read on. *Our power 100 package also includes several other breakout lists of designers, retailers and trade show organizers that will be revealed throughout the week.*  Read the designer “directionals” list here.

1. Kasper Rorsted, 55, Mark King, 58 CEO, Adidas Group; President, Adidas Group North America

mark king, adidas
Mark King
CREDIT: Courtesy

Adidas proved in 2017 its recent successes weren’t a fluke. As it captured more market share, the powerhouse unleashed its techy Futurecraft 4D sneakers, opened two Adidas Originals stores (Chicago and Venice, Calif.), bolstered its pro athlete roster (including No. 1 NFL draft pick Myles Garrett) and delivered numerous well-received campaigns (“Unleash Your Creativity,” “Create Positivity”).

POWER PLAYERS: Matt O’Toole, Roland Auschel, Eric Liedtke

2. Mark Parker, 62, Chairman, President & CEO, Nike Inc.

Despite facing competition it hasn’t encountered in some time, Nike showed it’s still a huge force via innovations and collabs under Parker. The Swoosh released its ground-breaking Air VaporMax style, debuted its sustainable Flyleather material and dropped the most talked-about collaboration of the year, “The Ten,” classic looks reimagined by Virgil Abloh.

POWER PLAYERS: Trevor Edwards, Hannah Jones, John Hoke, Michael Spillane, Davide Grasso

3.  Blake Nordstrom, 57, Erik Nordstrom, 54, Pete Nordstrom, 55, Co-Presidents, Nordstrom Inc.

After months of negotiations, the Nordstroms tabled plans for a go-private transaction. Nevertheless, the department store continues to stake its claim as the leader in a troubled landscape. With innovation and digital at the forefront, the retailer’s Q2 rose 3.5 percent to $3.71 billion, while comps gained 1.7 percent, handily besting forecasts.

POWER PLAYERS: Jamie Nordstrom, Scott Meden, Kristin Frossmo, Jeffrey Kalinsky

4. Dick Johnson, 59, Chairman, President & CEO, Foot Locker Inc.

dick johnson, foot locker
Dick Johnson
CREDIT: Courtsey

After netting sales of $7.8billion in 2016, Foot Locker showed signs of a slowdown, largely because of a waning athletic market. Still, Johnson and the company worked to right the ship, opening key stores including Times Square in New York and Champs State Street in Chicago, and rolling out its Launch Reservation app nationwide.

POWER PLAYERS: Jake Jacobs, LewKimble, Lauren Peters

5. Robert Greenberg, 75, Michael Greenberg, 54, Chairman & CEO; President, Skechers USA Inc.

Skechers marked 25 years in business, achieved its first billion-dollar quarter in Q1, hit a new second-quarter sales record and posted its highest-ever quarterly sales in Q3. The Greenbergs tapped buzzy songstress Camila Cabello as the company’s new front-woman, brought back RobLowe for its men’s division ads and signed several high-profile athletes. In a tough climate, global sales continued to stand out: During the first six months, overseas sales represented 48 percent of its business.

POWER PLAYER: David Weinberg

6. Diane Sullivan, 62, CEO, President & Chairman, Caleres Inc.

diane sullivan
Diane Sullivan
CREDIT: Courtesy

Sullivan has helped Caleres stay agile during a frenetic time for the industry. The new Allen Edmonds brand, acquired in December, has given the company a bigger stake in men’s and is helping fuel its wholesale division. Sam Edelman continues to experience momentum, Via Spiga was relaunched, and a strong back-to-school season at Famous Footwear propelled the firm ahead of second-quarter forecasts.

POWER PLAYERS: Rick Ausick, Jay Schmidt, Sam Edelman, Malcolm Robinson 

7. Jeff Bezos, 53, Tony Hsieh, 43, Founder, Chairman & CEO, Amazon.com; CEO, Zappos

Bezos is determined to make Amazon a formidable fashion player, adding a shoe line to the e-giant’s burgeoning private-label business and unveiling Prime Wardrobe, which lets members test clothes, shoes and accessories for free. Amid expansion, Amazon Fashion president Cathy Beaudoin exited the firm. Although Zappos also shouldered the departure of key exec Steve Hill, the company forged ahead with a specialized shopping experience for people with disabilities. Recently, as a Las Vegas business, it has aggressively reached out to help people impacted by the Oct. 1 mass shooting.

POWER PLAYERS: Arun Rajan, Jeff Espersen, Mike Normart, Eileen Tetreault, Melissa Costa

8. Steve Madden, 60, Ed Rosenfeld, 42, Founder, Creative & Design Chief; Chairman & CEO, Steve Madden

Adding Schwartz & Benjamin to his arsenal to start the year, Madden’s magic touch prevailed, with quarter after quarter of earnings wins amid competitor shortfalls. The company expanded its footprint with a China joint venture and saw Q2 sales advance 15 percent to $374.1 million. If he wasn’t busy enough, the founder is readying the release of the documentary “Maddman: The Steve Madden Story,” in November.

POWER PLAYERS: Nick Lucio, Steve Shapiro, Bryan Collins, Amelia Newton

9. Steve Rendle, 58, Eric Wiseman, 62, President & CEO; Executive Chairman, VF Corp.

After offloading its Licensed Sports Group division, VF satisfied investor appetite by hopping back in the M&A saddle, acquiring workwear company Williamson-Dickie for $820 million. In Q2, the company continued the momentum, topping forecasts with revenues of $2.36 billion and profits of $110 million, bolstered by the strength of Vans and The North Face.

POWER PLAYERS: Curt Holtz, Doug Palladini, Jim Pisani, Arne Arens

10. Blake Krueger, 63, Chairman, CEO & President, Wolverine World Wide Inc.

An aggressive “Way Forward” plan — emphasizing innovation and portfolio management — led Krueger to license out the Stride Rite business, sell the Sebago brand and divest Wolverine’s Department of Defense contract business. With a fleet of 80 profitable stores, the company’s chief is focused on moving Wolverine ahead.

POWER PLAYERS: Michael Stornant, Michael Jeppesen, Todd Spaletto, Richie Woodworth, James Zwiers, Gillian Meek

11. Manolo Blahnik, 74, George Malkemus, 63, Kristina Blahnik, 43, Founder and Designer; President, Manolo Blahnik USA; CEO, Manolo Blahnik International

Kristina Blahnik
Kristina Blahnik
CREDIT: Courtesy

Manolo Blahnik hit the big screen with his biopic and toured the world with an in-depth retrospective featuring his favorite shoes. After wrapping up his Rihanna collaboration, the designer teamed with Spanish label Castañer on a collection to mark the latter’s 90th anniversary. On the retail front, the Blahniks debuted a stand-alone boutique in Tokyo’s new Ginza 6 retail development and a shop-in-shop at the Daimaru department store in Osaka. Further expansion is planned in both Japan and Norway, while the label also recently moved into Australia and Poland.

12. Christian Louboutin, 54, Founder & Designer, Christian Louboutin

The Frenchman expanded his empire even further this year. He broadened his wildly popular Nudes collection and unveiled a baby shoe collab with Goop that garnered attention. The designer also pumped up his beauty biz with an eye makeup line and fragrance. And he partnered with Indian couture designer and friend Sabyasachi Mukherjee for a collab that celebrates his love of India.

POWER PLAYERS: Alexis Mourot, Catherine Roggero

13. Doug McMillon, 51, President & CEO, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The retail giant staked some serious new territory in the fashion world, acquiring mens-wear label Bonobos, women’s brand Mod Cloth and outdoor retailer Moosejaw. Under its Jet.com subsidiary, Walmart also scooped up ShoeBuy.com and the Shoes.com domain. The moves helped the company rack up its 12th consecutive quarter of comp sales gains.

POWER PLAYERS: Greg Foran, David Cheesewright, Mike Sorabella

14. *TIE Jim Davis, 74, Rob DeMartini, 56, Chairman; CEO & President, New Balance

Rob DeMartini, new balance
Rob DeMartini
CREDIT: Courtesy

The wins piled up for New Balance. For the third straight year, the Davis and DeMartini led brand impressed with stellar collabs (Concepts, Ronnie Fieg x Dover Street Market), an improved athlete ambassador roster (MLB All-Star Francisco Lindor), fresh marketing campaigns (“Letters to My Future Self”) and a new platform to engage with runners (NYRR Runcenter featuring the New Balance Run Hub).

POWER PLAYERS: Anne Davis, Chris Davis

14. *TIE Richard Baker, 51, Liz Rodbell, 60, Marc Metrick, 44, Executive Chairman, Hudson’s Bay Co.; President, Lord & Taylor; President, Saks Fifth Avenue

While it’s been a challenging time for the Canadian department store group, its Saks Fifth Avenue nameplate had a big year, opening a dedicated men’s store in New York and celebrating the 10th anniversary of its 10022-Shoe concept with an exclusive offering of designer styles. To keep an edge on the competition, Lord & Taylor rolled out an enhanced price-matching program. Gilt marked its 10th year with a relaunch of its site.

POWER PLAYERS: Tracy Margolies, Roopal Patel, David Law, Jonathan Greller

15. Jeff Gennette, 56, CEO, Macy’s Inc.

Before hanging up his hat in March, former chief Terry Lundgren slashed 10,100 jobs in a restructure of the struggling department store. After taking the reins, Gennette continued the turnaround, pushing a heightened focus on digital, a new loyalty program and more exclusive products. To strengthen his team, he tapped former eBay exec Hal Lawton as president. The strategy could be working: The firm beat top- and bottom-line forecasts in Q2.

POWER PLAYERS: Lawton, Muriel Gonzalez, Tony Spring

16. Victor Luis, 51, CEO, Tapestry Inc.

Miuccia Prada
Victor Luis
CREDIT: Courtesy

The executive, who’s been rapidly transforming the firm, changed the parent company’s name to Tapestry, from Coach, to reflect its growing brand portfolio. Luis added Kate Spade New York in a $2.4 billion acquisition deal that generated major attention. The CEO brought in savvy fashion and footwear exec Josh Schulman to head Coach. Stuart Weitzman, which saw its founder and namesake retire this year, continued to hum along with with trendy product and provocative ad campaigns with Gigi Hadid.

POWER PLAYERS: Schulman, Wendy Kahn, Stuart Vevers, Giovanni Morelli, Susan Duffy

17. Michael Kors, 58, John Idol, 58, Honorary Chairman, Chief Creative Officer & Director; Chairman & CEO, Michael Kors Holdings Ltd.

Kors pulled off one of the year’s blockbuster deals, snapping up Jimmy Choo for a cool $1.2 billion — a move that’s part of a broader push to build a global fashion luxury group.The designer also opened a store in South Africa, tapped Chinese actress Yang Mi as his first brand ambassador and unveiled the next generation of his Access smartwatch.

POWER PLAYERS: Idol, Philippa Newman

18. François-Henri Pinault, 55, Björn Gulden, 52, Chairman & CEO, Kering; CEO, Puma SE

Under Pinault, first-half consolidated revenue increased 28.2 percent to $8.6 billion with sustained momentum at Gucci and Saint Laurent, up 43.4 and 28.5 percent, respectively. Gulden, meanwhile, saw sharp double-digit growth at Puma, where new Netfit lacing technology was introduced. Kering continues to be perceived as a top sustainable company in the luxury industry and, together with LVMH, has drawn up a charter for the well-being of models.

POWER PLAYERS: Anthony Vaccarello, Alessandro Michele, Demna Gvasalia

19. Bob Campbell, 80, Chairman & CEO, BBC International

Campbell had a banner year, both personally and professionally. The CEO was awarded an honorary doctorate from Florida Atlantic University, while his firm powered ahead on its global expansion push. A focus on emerging markets, in particular, helped boost international sales. And BBC expects to announce a new athletic brand license next year.

POWER PLAYERS: Donald Wilborn, Josue Solano, Seth Campbell

20. Aldo Bensadoun, 78, David Bensadoun, 47, Founder & Executive Chairman; CEO, Aldo Group

Elder son David assumed the role of CEO this year, taking over leadership of the family firm from his legendary father. His tenure has already been eventful: After announcing a blockbuster merger with Camuto Group, the two last week stepped away from the deal.

POWER PLAYER: Jurgen Schreiber

21. Karen Katz, 60, President & CEO, Neiman Marcus Group

karen katz
Karen Katz
CREDIT: Courtesy

Faced with mounting financial pressures, Katz scrapped plans for an IPO and put the luxury player up for sale, only to call off negotiations. On the bright side, construction is underway on the Neiman Marcus flagship in New York (slated to open in 2019). Across the chain, men’s footwear performed strongly, particularly luxury dress and designer sneaker styles.

POWER PLAYERS: Jim Gold, Linda Fargo, Ken Downing, Jonathan Joselove

22. Bernard Arnault, 68, Chairman & CEO, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton

For Dior’s 70th anniversary, the Arnault family upped its stake in Christian Dior SE (which controls LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) to 94.2 percent, from 74.3. LVMH also bought Dior’s couture arm in its entirety and launched group e-commerce site 24 Sèvres. Third-quarter sales were up 13.6 percent.

POWER PLAYERS: Nicholas Kirkwood, Nicolas Ghesquière, Maria Grazia Chiuri

23. Diego Della Valle, 63, CEO & President, Tod’s

Despite decreases in profitability in the first half (net profit fell 7.2 percent), Della Valle is bullish over long-term prospects, placing a renewed focus on exclusivity and technology. Initiatives include a customization program and limited-edition summer capsule with Mr Porter. Meanwhile, Roger Vivier remains the group’s fastest-growing brand.

POWER PLAYERS: Bruno Frisoni, Inès de la Fressange

24. *TIE Roger Rawlins, 51, Debbie Ferrée, 64, CEO, Vice Chairman; Chief Merchandising Officer, DSW Inc.

Rawlins and Ferrée expanded DSW’s footprint in 2017, adding 12 doors in the U.S. and franchises in Oman and Saudi Arabia. And after posting its first comps gain since 2015, the firm doubled down this fall on a tech-focused store strategy.

POWER PLAYERS: Jay Schottenstein, Simon Nankervis, William Jordan

24.*TIE Alex Del Cielo, 58, CEO & Chairman, Camuto Group

This year, Camuto scored shoe deals with Rebecca Minkoff and Alice & Olivia, and also launched kids’ and jewelry divisions. While its merger with Aldo Group fell through last week, Del Cielo said the two would look for other ways to work together.

POWER PLAYERS: Ed Ferrell, Jeff Howald, Julio Martini, Leah Robert

25. Bob Dennis, 63, Chairman, CEO & President, Genesco Inc.

It’s been an up-and-down year at the specialty retailer. While Dennis saw positive momentum at Journeys and Schuh, Genesco was plagued by underperformance at Lids. Additionally, the company, like many, saw a major shift in consumer shopping away from stores to its digital platforms, which put pressure on profitability. With an eye on more changes, Dennis tapped longtime exec Mario Gallione as president of Journeys, part of a succession plan to eventually replace Jim Estepa.

POWER PLAYERS: Estepa, Jonathan Caplan

26. Gianvito Rossi, 50, Designer & CEO, Gianvito Rossi

Rossi’s star continues to rise, and the Italian designer topped retailers’ must-buy lists. The brand expanded into menswear, launching its first dedicated men’s collection, and with it, two boutiques located in Milan and Paris. Rossi also made a statement in retail with a dedicated boutique inside Dubai retailer Level Shoes.

POWER PLAYERS: Serge Biasin, Mariapia Daverio

27. Mike George, 56, President & CEO, QVC Inc.

Sensing a rapidly changing landscape, where giant retailers Wal-Mart and Amazon are only getting bigger, George made his boldest move to date: QVC will pay $2.1 billion for rival HSN Inc. The deal, once it closes this year, will enable the retailer — which will continue to elevate the digital shopping experience and improve content — to add to the $4 billion it registered in e-commerce revenue in 2016.

POWER PLAYERS: Steve Hofmann, Mike Fitzharris

28. Miuccia Prada, 68, Designer & Co-CEO, Prada SpA

Miuccia Prada
Miuccia Prada
CREDIT: Courtesy

Notwithstanding a decline in profits (first-half net was down 18.2 percent), Prada SpA remains positive about the long term. There’s a digital overhaul afoot, with localized e-commerce platforms in Asia and Australia rolling out by the end of 2017, followed by the Middle East and Latin America next year.

POWER PLAYER: Patrizio Bertelli

29. Kevin Plank, 45, Chairman & CEO, Under Armour Inc.

kevin plank, under armour
Kevin Plank
CREDIT: Courtesy

For Plank, 2017 has been as much about politics as products and personnel. The exec, who tapped Patrik Frisk as president and COO, is hoping for a rebounding basketball business with the Curry 4 launch, but he faced backlash from the public — and his star athletes — this year for his perceived praise of President Donald Trump and for serving on the American Manufacturing Council, though he stepped down in August. Retail consolidation also hurt the company, as Wall Street sent the stock down to $15.50 a share, from $33 a year earlier.

POWER PLAYERS: Frisk, Kip Fulks, Dave Dombro

30. Sam Sato, 53, CEO, The Finish Line Inc.

Is Sato in survival mode? To outsiders, it would appear so. The executive has faced pressures from Wall Street and a promotional athletic environment. What’s more, a move from U.K.-based sporting goods firm Sports Direct to consistently snap up portions of Finish Line forced Sato’s firm to adopt a shareholder rights plan, or “poison pill,” to spoil any potential takeover attempts.

POWER PLAYERS: Imran Jooma, John Hall

31. Daniella Vitale, 50, CEO, Barneys New York

Barneys had a changing of the guard, with Vitale moving up to CEO in February following Mark Lee’s retirement. In a challenging climate, the retailer increasingly be ton exclusive offerings to set it apart, including the footwear-focused SoleSeries, which delivered collabs from Vans, Adidas and Timberland. The newShoe Stories campaign debuted, highlighting style influencers such as Aleali May.

POWER PLAYERS: Jennifer Sunwoo, Tom Kalenderian, Leah Kim, Marina Larroudé

32. Rihanna, 29, Founder, Fenty; Creative Director, Puma

CREDIT: Rex Shutterstock

The superstar songstress isn’t shy about her fashion ambitions: She’s out to dominate. Building on the success of the sellout Creeper with Puma (FN’s 2016 Shoe of the Year), Rihanna debuted new versions of the style plus a more diverse range of shoes. She was the toast of NYFW, where she launched her Fenty beauty collection and put on a runway spectacle. Finally, she debuted her final line with Manolo Blahnik.

33. Bruce Rockowitz, 58, CEO, Vice Chairman & Executive Director, Global Brands Group

With help from new and existing licenses, the group’s revenues increased by 11.6 percent year-on-year. The company also announced a plan to hit $5 billion in revenue by the end of 2020. More deals unfolded, including a licensing agreement with Timberland and the appointment of celeb stylist Jamie Mizrahi as creative director of Juicy Couture, which is making a comeback. Also, Katy Perry distribution is at an all-time high of 600 doors globally and is seeing strong omnichannel growth throughout Europe, Russia and the Middle East, while Frye has expanded wholesale and is up to 16 U.S. retail stores.

POWER PLAYERS: Jason Rabin, Jim Gabriel

34. Marc Fisher, 59, Founder & CEO, Marc Fisher Footwear

While Fisher fielded some negative headlines for his firm’s Ivanka Trump footwear line, he bolstered the business with the purchase of Easy Spirit and a new partnership with model and brand ambassador Martha Hunt.

POWER PLAYERS: Susan Itzkowitz, Terry Solis

35. Kevin Mansell, 65, Chairman, CEO & President, Kohl’s Corp.

After 10 years at the helm, Mansell said he’d retire in 2018, naming Michelle Gass as his successor. In the meantime, Kohl’s continues to streamline its store fleet, shrinking the footprint of almost half its 1,100 units, in addition to opening new smaller-format doors. E-commerce remains a growth driver, with Q2 sales spiking 19 percent, prompting the opening of a fifth fulfillment center.

POWER PLAYERS: Sona Chawla, Ron Murray

36. Bob Goldman, 75, CEO, Cels Enterprises

The firm adjusted in a swiftly changing market, including speeding up delivery cycles and implementing an all-seasons approach with its assortments. On the retail front, Chinese Laundry renovated its stores, as well as revamped its e-commerce site, which helped boost traffic and sales. A new women’s brand is in development for 2018.

POWER PLAYERS: Stewart Goldman, Tsering Namgya

37. Jim Issler, 69, President & CEO, H.H. Brown Shoe Co.

Issler turned up the star power: His firm’s Justin Boots label linked up with country music icon Reba McEntire to debut a Western-inspired women’s collection this holiday season. Additional celebrity partnerships are in the works for 2018.

POWER PLAYERS: Tom McClaskie, Greg Crouchley, David Isslel

38. Dave Powers, 51, President & CEO, Deckers Brands

An activist shareholder hammered Powers and team this year, criticizing the company’s continuing strategic review process and its handling of the Ugg brand. Nevertheless, Ugg chief Andrea O’Donnell forged ahead with a plan to generate excitement with fresh product and an expanded men’s line. Q2 sales for the label gained 25 percent to $114.7 million but reflected a shift in order shipments and not necessarily demand.

POWER PLAYERS: O’Donnell, Wendy Yang, Stefano Caroti

39. Neil Clifford, 50, CEO, Kurt Geiger

With sales of $445 million and a gain of 12 percent for the year ended Jan. 28, it’s been a bumper stretch for the European retailer. This is partly attributable to its women’s fashion sneaker business, which saw sales advance 48 percent. Digital growth has also been significant, with online sales rising 26 percent.

POWER PLAYERS: Peter Bolliger, Michelle Ryan, Rebecca Farrar-Hockley

40. Ronnie Fieg, 35, Founder, CEO & Creative Director, Kith

ronnie fieg, kith
Ronnie Fieg
CREDIT: Courtesy

Fieg and his Kith empire continued to dominate in 2017. Aside from recruiting NBA stars LeBron James and Scottie Pippen for his Kith Sport NYFW show, Fieg delivered monumental collaborations, including work with Nike, Coca-Cola x Converse and Adidas — and opened a three-story flagship in NYC. What’s next for Kith? A much-anticipated pop-up experience in Los Angeles.

41. Peter Harris, 54, President, Pedder Group

Pedder Group, a division of The Lane Crawford Joyce Group, expanded its retail strategy, moving into e-commerce with Onpedder.com. The move was a response to changes in Asian markets, and the site offers a curated mix of luxury brands.

POWER PLAYERS: Carmen Cheng, Su Kim

42. Giuseppe Zanotti, 60, President & Creative Director, Giuseppe Zanotti

The designer focused much attention on the Asian market, expanding his retail business with a flagship store in Singapore, the restyling of the Hong Kong boutique and his first mono-brand door in Vietnam. Zanotti also partnered with Jennifer Lopez on two exclusive shoe capsule collections, along with creating designs for Lady Gaga’s and Ariana Grande’s world tours.


43. Brian Cornell, 58, Chairman & CEO, Target Corp.

Building on the success of its Cat & Jack kids’ label — which topped $2 billion in sales in its first year — Target debuted two apparel and footwear brands for adults: A New Day and Good fellow & Co. Under Cornell, the megachain also unveiled its store of the future, opening this fall in suburban Houston — the first of 500 locations to be redesigned over the next two years.

POWER PLAYERS: Mark Tritton, Michelle Wlazlo

44. Stephen Rubin, 79, Andy Rubin, 52, Chairman, Pentland Group PLC; Chairman, Pentland Brands Ltd.

The Rubins invested in SeaVees, a California lifestyle sneaker brand. Ted Baker opened stores in Houston and Los Angeles, and expanded its Miami Aventura location. Lacoste footwear resonated with consumers as the athleisure boom continued. Reflecting that success, the company won an award for the best U.K. family business at the EY 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year awards this month.

POWER PLAYERS: Carrie Rubin, Andy Long, Richard Newcombe

45. *TIE Blake Mycoskie, 41, Founder & Chief Shoe Giver, Toms Shoes

Though the company isn’t nearly as buzzy as it once was, Mycoskie, fresh off Toms’ 10-year-anniversary, is still dreaming up new ideas. He partnered with Target and Apple to create a line of tech-driven accessories to be sold at the mass retailer. And perhaps to add more juice to the company, Mycoskie tapped friend John Whitledge, co-founder of Trovata, as its creative director.


45. *TIE Kenneth Cole, 63, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Kenneth Cole Productions Inc.

Cole heightened the focus on technology with the launch of Techni-Cole, a comfort- and performance-based initiative across all his product categories. An exclusive partnership for footwear powered by 37.5. Technology also boosted the brand’s casual and dress shoe offerings.

POWER PLAYERS: Marc Schneider, Roberto Zamarra, Greg Tarbell

46. Massimo Ferragamo, 60, Vincent Ottomanelli, 51, Chairman; President, Ferragamo USA

Appointed design director of women’s footwear just last year, Paul Andrew has now been charged with women’s ready-to-wear. First-half results saw a revenue rise of 1.1 percent but a net profit decrease of 15.4 percent. However, the footwear category, which represents 43.6 percent of the firm’s total business, was up 1.3 percent.

POWER PLAYERS: Andrew, Ferruccio Ferragamo, James Ferragamo

47. Pierre Hardy, 61, President, Pierre Hardy

The designer’s first Atelier collection — which is filled with his most experimental styles of the season — hit stores in March. The shoe designer has since presented the second and third Atelier collections, most recently at PFW. His summer collection was inspired by abstract paintings. Plus, Hardy continued to design footwear and accessories at Hermés, a gig he’s had for more than two decades.

48. Edward Stack, 62, Chairman & CEO, Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc.

After acquiring Sports Authority’s name (and other intellectual assets) and Golfsmith last year, the retailer spent 2017 converting many of those closed doors into Dick’s Sporting Goods and Golf Galaxy locations. But a disappointing Q2 and a struggling retail climate forced Stack to ramp up discounts and promotions to excite shoppers.

49. Sophia Webster, 32, Founder & Creative Director, Sophia Webster Ltd.

sophia webster
Sophia Webster
CREDIT: Courtesy


Webster and Puma teamed up on a dance-inspired collection that launched in September, with a second drop to follow this month. The label reached 1 million followers on Instagram, which helped support 60 percent year-on-year growth for its e-commerce channel. Next up, Webster will open a NYC pop-up in November.

POWER PLAYER: Bobby Stockley

50. Charlotte Olympia Dellal, 36, Creative Director & Founder, Charlotte Olympia

The British footwear label announced that Onward Holdings, a Japanese luxury group, acquired a controlling stake in the brand as part of an expansion within Europe and Asia. Dellal’s popular collabs continued as she worked with Marvel on a capsule collection inspired by “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

POWER PLAYER: Bonnie Takhar

51. Ralph Lauren, 78, Executive Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Ralph Lauren Corp.

Lauren made tough financial cuts this year,  laying off hundreds of workers and closing several stores, including Polo’s Fifth Avenue flagship in New York. But with new president and CEO Patrice Louvet, the designer is now focused on omnichannel innovation.

POWER PLAYERS: Louvet, Valérie Hermann

52. *TIE Jack Ma, 53, Founder & Executive Chairman, Alibaba

Big sales and megaprojections are the name of the game for Ma and his rapidly growing e-commerce powerhouse. The company projects its revenues could explode nearly 5 percent in 2018, significantly besting market estimates. To accelerate the plan, Ma will spend $15 billion on research and development over the next three years.

POWER PLAYERS: Daniel Yong Zhang, Michael Evans, Joe Tsai

 52. *TIE  Stefan Kaluzny, 50, Managing Director & Co-founder, Sycamore Partners

Kaluzny continued to make big wagers on retail despite industrywide turmoil. Adding to the $3.5 billion in capital under Sycamore’s management, Kaluzny acquired bankrupt The Limited and other related intellectual property assets. The savvy dealmaker plans to reintroduce the brand to the marketplace. Sycamore also continued to overhaul Nine West under shoe veteran Joel Oblonsky.


53. Jerry Stritzke, 57, President & CEO, REI Co-op

Aside from outfitting outdoor enthusiasts, the retailer made significant investments to outdoor recreation. Through various initiatives, REI donated roughly 70 percent of profits to the outdoor community. Also, through its “Force of Nature” program, the company put women first through events, improved product selection and a $1 million gift to female-focused community organizations.

POWER PLAYERS: Susan Viscon, Marshall Merriam, Carolyn Burnham

54. Ernie Herrman, 56, CEO, The TJX Companies Inc.

With Herrman’s guidance, the fleet of 3,800 TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods stores continues to buck negative retail trends. After consistent earnings wins, the company saw modest deceleration in Q1 but quickly bounced back in the most recent quarter, posting a sales gain of 6 percent to $8.4 billion, handily besting forecasts.

POWER PLAYER: Carol Meyrowitz

55. Marvin Ellison, 52, Chairman & CEO, J.C. Penney Co.

Although he kicked off the year announcing plans to ditch more than 100 stores, Ellison executed growth initiatives including the launch of Nike shop-in-shops and an expansion of the Sephora partnership. Still, the firm widened its Q2 losses, evidencing ongoing financial pressures.

POWER PLAYERS: Jodie Johnson, Michael Amend

56. Paul Andrew, 38, CEO & Chief Creative Officer, Paul Andrew

Paul Andrew
Paul Andrew
CREDIT: Axel Dupeux.

It was a big year for the designer, who after joining Salvatore Ferragamo as women’s footwear director in September 2016 is now the creative director of womenswear for the fashion house. His first collection for Ferragamo in this new role will debut next fall. His namesake men’s and women’s footwear brand remains strong.

57. Alexandre Birman, 41, CEO & Creative Director, Arezzo & Co.

As Brazil-based shoe empire Arezzo marked 45 years, Birman remained focused on growth. In addition to launching a New York showroom for the contemporary Schutz label and his namesake brand, he has amped up operations with the hiring of Arezzo’s new COO, Alex Michail. In 2018, consumers will see the launch of two Schutz stores in high-traffic malls.


58. Jim Weber, 57, CEO, Brooks Running Co.

Brooks is already a force in the U.S., and this year, the running label expanded its reach to China and Brazil. Aside from expansion, Brooks released a new performance sneaker (Levitate) with its latest energy-returning DNA AMP midsole and invited all runners to become brand ambassadors (and paid them $1) via the “Brooks Big Endorsement.”

POWER PLAYERS: Melanie Allen, Dan Sheridan, Patrick Pons de Vier

59. John Varvatos, 55, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, John Varvatos Enterprises

Varvatos has always been a fan of rock ‘n’ roll fashion, and he stayed true to his roots for the fall season. At NYFW, he displayed a more refined aesthetic than usual, elevating the overall look of the brand with an assortment of new dressy evening pieces in his signature black and gray tones.

POWER PLAYER: Mark Brashear

60. Oliver Reichert, 46, Markus Bensberg, 53, Co-CEOs, Birkenstock Group

Reichert and Bensberg have led Germany’s largest footwear manufacturer since 2013, upping the cool factor and even expanding into the manufacturing of beds. Last year, the company sold twice as many shoes as it did in 2012, and both revenues and profits have skyrocketed.


61. *TIE Patrick Chalhoub, 59, Co-CEO, Chalhoub Group

Level made a huge splash with its “Dear India” campaign, which featured 16 special collaborations with designers, including Christian Louboutin x Sabyasachi — which was exclusively revealed at Level Shoes in the Middle East. Gianvito Rossi debuted a boutique inside the Dubai luxury retailer to mark the designer’s 10th anniversary.


61. *TIE Pierpaolo Piccioli, 50, Creative Director, Valentino

Over the three seasons since he took sole creative charge, the house of Valentino has seen a gentle shift in aesthetics. It’s less fairytale and more a realistic reflection of how consumers dress today — think athleisure wear with bow-detailed pumps and full-length evening glamour, dialed down with embellished sneakers.

POWER PLAYER: Stefano Sassi

62. *TIE Steen Borgholm, 43, CEO, ECCO Sko A/S

Borgholm, formerly CFO, took over the top spot in Mayafter Dieter Kasprzak stepped down. Under the direction of new creative director Liam Maher, the brand rolled out the communication platform Perpetual Motion, using storytelling to highlight the blend of old-world craftsmanship with technology. To tap into the athleisure movement, Borgholm introduced Kinhin, a premium direct-injection sneaker with a cork footbed.

POWER PLAYERS: Dave Quel, Michel Krol, Panos Mytaros

62. *TIE Greg Tunney, 56, President & CEO, RG Barry Brands Inc.

The private company expects to post 2017 sales of $200 million. The company rolled out a Foot Petals shoe collection at$150 and higher-end Dearfoams suede slippers at $40 to $60.This fall, sister brand Baggallini debuted six stand-alone stores in travel destinations including Mall of America and the Atlanta and Phoenix airports. Tunney will also assume the post of chairman of the Two Ten Foot-wear Foundation in December.

POWER PLAYER: Gary Binkosk

63. Marc Jacobs, 54, Co-founder & Creative Director, Marc Jacobs International

Instead of homing in on one key style for spring ’18, Jacobs broadened the range with flash, employing all the colors of the rainbow. In footwear, the 2016 CFDA womenswear designer of the year focused on sandals rather than gigantic platforms.

64. David Miller, 61, Scott Sessa, 58, CEO; President, Minnetonka Moccasin Co.

Miller and Sessa continued to expand Minnetonka’s consumer reach through collaborations with Mother Denim, Duluth Pack and celeb favorite Free Range Mama. Looking ahead, executives plan to mark the 50th anniversary of the brand’s knee-high fringe boot in 2018.

65. Mandy Cabot, 63, CEO & Founder, Dansko

The brand continued to build upon its Professional clog business by introducing XP 2.0, its lightest version to date. Cabot and team developed its Natural Arch technology, designed with memory foam footbed, for enhanced support and shock absorption. The technology will appear throughout the line.

POWER PLAYERS: Jim Fox, Sal Agati, Mimi Curry

66. Edgardo Osorio, 31, Creative Director & Founder, Aquazzura

The designer made a splash with collaborations this year, including an eight-style collection with fashion icon Claudia Schiffer, a pairing with de Gournay on MatchesFashion.com and a Net-a-Porter exclusive capsule with Johanna Ortiz. Osorio opened his first West Coast boutique, a shop in Moscow, and he will launch a Dubai location by year-end.

67. Tabitha Simmons, 46, Founder & Designer, Tabitha Simmons

The stylist and designer launched bridal and a spring ’18 assortment comprising 1970s-inspired kitten heels, sandals, mules and platforms. She also collaborated with Ortiz for the first time on a capsule collection with Moda Operandi.

68. Gene McCarthy, 61, President & CEO, Asics America Group

Asics’ notable new styles targeted its many audiences, including regular runners (DynaFlyte 2), athleisure aficionados (Gel-Kenun) and collab connoisseurs (Kith, J.Crew x Packer Shoes). Under McCarthy’s watch, it also bolstered its East Coast presence with a state-of-the-art Product Creation Studio in Boston and opened new offices in Latin America and Canada.

POWER PLAYERS: Sarah Bishop, David Ayers, Ian Dickinson

69. Virgil Abloh, 37, Creative Director & Founder, Off-White

Virgil Abloh
Virgil Abloh
CREDIT: Courtesy

Everyone wanted a piece of Abloh in 2017. The hottest designer of today launched the year’s most talked-about sneaker collab, a collection with Nike dubbed “The Ten,” and followed up by showing his “Cinderella”-inspired spring ’18 shoes with Jimmy Choo on the runway. He also opened the Off-White store and EM_PTY Gallery in New York.

70. Federico Marchetti, 48, CEO, Yoox Net-a-Porter Group

Marchetti’s firm saw sales surpass $1 billion in the first six months of the year, lifted largely by in-season business. Net-a-Porter is expanding its fine-jewelry offering with exclusives from Chopard and Cartier. Following Sarah Rutson’s departure, Elizabeth von der Goltz has been appointed global buying director. There’s also a new global e-commerce agreement with Ferrari.

POWER PLAYERS: Alison Loehnis, Alberto Grignolo

71. Kanye West, 40, Designer, Kanye West

West shared the spotlight with other fashion-focused celebrities this year, but the rapper-turned-designer’s Adidas sneakers continued to steal the show. Fans of the Yeezy franchise swarmed stores and the resale market for new Yeezy Boost 350 V2 iterations, as well as his fresh Wave Runner 700 and Calabasas styles.


72. Joe Ouaknine, 64, CEO, Titan Industries

The firm continues to build with its newest partner, Rachel Roy. In particular, they plan to release footwear within her contemporary Rachel Rachel Roy collection next spring. Zendaya’s line, Daya by Zendaya, is currently in the phasing-out process. Retail stores are also on the agenda for Ouaknine — the rollout should start in the first quarter of 2018.

POWER PLAYERS: Brad Bailey, Sara Formslag, Nicolas Huneault

73. Gary Champion, 64 President, Clarks Americas Inc.

The brand is up double digits over 2016 in its regional wholesale division, thanks in part to Champion’s focus on rebuilding the independent and key-account businesses. Collaborations from Clarks included collections with Barneys and hip-hop artist Drake’s October’s Very Own record label. Champion will oversee the rollout of Clarks’ effort to modernize its retail spaces.

POWER PLAYERS: Tara McRae, Joe Casagrande, Chris Caswell

74. Ezra Dabah, 64, CEO, Nina Footwear Corp.

Online business is on an upswing, with the company taking over management of its website. Under Dabah, the brand furthered its expansion into Asia, with simultaneous growth in Europe. The bridal collection continues its national ad campaign in wedding-focused publications.

POWER PLAYERS: Nina Miner, Flori Silverstein

75. Rebecca Minkoff, 36, Uri Minkoff, 42, Co-founder & Creative Director; Co-founder & CEO, Rebecca Minkoff

Rebecca and Uri Minkoff in Footwear News
Rebecca and Uri Minkoff
CREDIT: Joshua Scott

The sister-brother executives amped up their emphasis on footwear by teaming with Camuto Group. The new partnership should expand the depth of the collection as well as strengthen the brand’s position in the market. The duo also remains a leader in the see-now, buy-now initiative, taking the format to its recent NYFW show.

76. Philip Jeong, 46, Chairman & CEO, K-Swiss Global Brands

KSGB experienced plenty of change in 2017. Jeong is now the company’s leader, based in its new Downtown Los Angeles headquarters. As of September, the Supra and KR3W banners are under president Steve Harden’s control. And the K-Swiss brand not only debuted a well-received sneaker line, Generation K, it also introduced Gary Vee and DNCE as brand ambassadors.

POWER PLAYERS: Harden, Christophe Mortemousque, Barney Waters

77. Karl-Johan Persson, 42, President & CEO, H&M Group

In his quest to increase the number of stores annually by 10 percent, Persson has said he wants to average one store opening per day. H&M will focus on China and on new markets like India and South Africa.

POWER PLAYER: Stefan Persson

78. Tim Boyle, 68, President & CEO, Columbia Sportswear Co.

tim boyle
Tim Boyle
CREDIT: Courtesy

Columbia’s progress is highlighted by record second-quarter net sales of $399 million, up 3 percent from the same period in 2016. During the quarter, the company’s Sorel banner — which moved to a new corporate HQ in June— experienced a 71 percent bump in sales (a year after Columbia repositioned it to a women’s year-round fashion-focused label).

POWER PLAYERS: Gert Boyle, Joseph Boyle

79. Pat Mooney, 48, President, Footwear Unlimited Inc.

Mooney grew his company’s brand portfolio this year with the addition of the Lucca Lane women’s label. In addition, the Baretraps line turned in another positive year. The spring launch of Baretraps Rebound Technology was the catalyst to strong results, and the momentum continued into early fall.

POWER PLAYERS: John Rimmer, Bill Downey, Andy Smith, Jerry Williamson

80. Cliff Sifford, 64, President & CEO, Shoe Carnival Inc.

Following a tough first quarter, the company achieved better-than-anticipated results with improved sales and keen expense management. A subsequent stock rally alleviated only some shareholder losses, but Sifford was banking on a strong back-to-school season to keep Shoe Carnival on target. The company expects full-year revenue of between $1.01 billion and $1.02 billion, with comparable sales flat, higher than analyst expectations of $1 billion.

POWER PLAYER: Wayne Weaver

81. William Dillard II, 72, Chairman & CEO, Dillard’s Inc.

Like other department stores, Dillard’s felt the pressures of consumer shifts and resorted to significant markdowns to lure shoppers. The company blamed increased promotions and high inventories for its net loss of $17.1 million in Q2.

POWER PLAYERS: Alex Dillard, Mike Dillard

82. Jack Silvera, 75, Founder & CEO, Dynasty Footwear

Silvera continues to expand into new markets with creative product and grow his key partnerships with a focus on transparency and longevity. Most notably, Dynasty experienced considerable growth in its kids’ business and remains a trusted private-label partner with top retailers in the U.S. Its Seychelles and BC labels remain focused on their core customers and the specialty retail channel.

POWER PLAYERS: Sari Ratsula, Gabriel Morales, Lance Giroux

83. Gene Yoon, 72, Jon Epstein, 62 Global Chairman, Fila; President, Fila North America

Heritage was big for Fila this year — the category experienced 146 percent growth. The brand’s reputation as a performance athletic brand was also bolstered in 2017, led by its sponsorship deal with the Netherlands Olympic team and big wins from marquee tennis athletes Karolina Pliskova, Marin Cilic and Sam Querrey.

POWER PLAYERS: Jennifer Estabrook, Danny Lieberman, Mark Eggert

84. Bruce Cagner, 71, Evan Cagner, 44, Chairman; President & CEO, Synclaire brands

The Cagners continue to corner the kids’ market, this year adding Frye, Tretorn, American Girl’s WellieWishers and Zero Tie for adults to their stable of licenses. And the deals keep coming: The father-son duo expect to announce three more for spring. Their year-old e-commerce site, KidsShoes.com, logged strong sales in the face of stiff online competition.

85. Paul Jones, 56, CEO, Payless Shoe Source Inc.

Jones’ quest to get ahead of retail’s hardships weren’t enough to keep the company out of bankruptcy court. The firm filed Chapter 11 in April but quickly emerged from the process, shedding about 900 stores and $435 million in debt. After five years at the helm, Jones passed the torch to interim CEO Martin Wade III following the restructuring.

POWER PLAYERS: Steve Gish, Ginny Peterson, Mike Vitelli

86. Carla Schmitzberger, 55, Global Head of Sandals Division, Alpargatas USA

Following its $1.1 billion sale in July to three Brazilian investment firms, Alpargatas continued to dominate the flip-flop market. The latest move from Schmitzberger: expanding the fashion-forward You line for spring.

POWER PLAYER: Márcio Utsch

87. Thomas Florsheim Jr.John Florsheim, 54, Chairman & CEO; President & COO, Weyco Group Inc.

Florsheim marked its 125th anniversary with special styles inspired by archival looks and with a Stacy Adams fall marketing campaign hitting Sports Illustrated. International business expanded, including European distribution of Bogs as well as through more Florsheim store franchises. Stateside, the Florsheims reduced store count and remodeled remaining locations.

POWER PLAYERS: Brian Flannery, Kevin Schiff, Dustin Combs

88. Michael Muskat, 70, Rick Muskat, 66, Co-Principals, Deer Stags Concepts Inc.

Digital growth was a priority for the Muskats, prompting the hire of Mark Higgins as senior director of digital development. The firm also implemented new business intelligence software to support its e-commerce site. On the wholesale side, Deer Stags expanded into the European market.

POWER PLAYER: Danny Muskat

89. Isabel Marant, 50, Designer, Isabel Marant

The French designer made a major statement during Paris Fashion Week last month when she debuted a menswear collection, alongside her womenswear line, for the first time. She also opened a store in Miami and launched her own e-commerce.

POWER PLAYERS: Anouck Duranteau-Loeper, Sophie Duruflé, Nathalie Chemouny

90. Marcia Kilgore, 50, Founder, Fitflop

Marcia Kilgore women
Marcia Kilgore
CREDIT: Jim Hobart

Kilgore added some star power to the brand: She tapped actress Uma Thurman to be the face of FitFlop’s spring marketing campaign called #forsuperwomen. The redesign of Fitflop.com contributed to a digital sales spike of 110 percent.

POWER PLAYERS: Michael Lockett, Doug Jakubowski

91. Andrew Rees, 51, President, CEO & Director, Crocs Inc.

Rees took over as president from Gregg Ribatt, now aboard member. Crocs —which has been involved in a legal imbroglio — sent iterations of its recognizable design down the European runways, part of spring ’18 collaborations with Balenciaga and Christopher Kane.

POWER PLAYERS: Dan Hart, Carrie Teffne

92. Jamie Salter, 54, Nick Woodhouse, 48, Chairman & CEO; President & Chief Marketing Officer, Authentic Brands Group

Salter and Woodhouse’s buying spree continued. Following last year’s acquisitions of Aéropostale and Julius Erving, the firm scooped up Frye, Greg Norman and Neil Lane, helping to push sales past the$5 billion mark (one-fifth of which comes from footwear). Other moves included the relaunch of fashion comfort label Taryn Rose and the debut of a Tretorn kids’ collection.

POWER PLAYERS: Kevin Clarke, Natasha Fishman, Jarrod Weber, Jay Dubiner

93. Chris Gallagher, 48, CEO & Co-Founder, Vionic Group

The comfort brand continued to experience consecutive quarters of growth, with brick-and-mortar business up over 20 percent. The first Vionic retail store opened in partnership with Lucky Shoes in Akron, Ohio, while the brand debuted a New York showroom. A new Beach division tested distribution in the swim, surf, resort and health/wellness channels.

POWER PLAYERS: Bruce Campbell, Connie Rishwain

94. Don Weiss, 62, Stephen Hoyt, 69, Co-owner & President; Co-owner & Head of Design, Blowfish Malibu

Sales were positive for Blowfish, with growth of 18 percent, and the duo’s sneaker division saw much success. Their kids’ category has separated into anew division with new leadership and is rapidly growing. International business continues as the execs actively push new markets Spain, Greece, Russia and Australia.

POWER PLAYERS: Greg Kearns, Karen Bueno

95. Vincent Wauters, 45, CEO, Hunter Boot Ltd.

Under Wauters, Hunter expanded its North American retail footprint with a shop in Toronto. Looking to boost its profile through collaborations, the brand partnered with makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench on rubberized backpacks. Among several management moves, Daniel Shaw was named design director, while Sallie Scripter was tapped to lead the Americas.

POWER PLAYER: Alasdhair Willis

96. Mario Polegato, 65, Chairman, Geox Spa

To boost profitability, Polegato enacted a more strategic plan for Geox-branded stores. In the first half of the year, the firm closed 56 doors globally and opened 36, for a total of 1,141. Aiding Polegato is new CEO Gregorio Borgo, who joined in January.

POWER PLAYERS: Borgo, Enrico Polegato

97. Michael Katz, 66, CEO & President, Matisse Footwear

michael katz
Michael Katz
CREDIT: Courtesy

Matisse delved into the men’s market with a small collection of boots and sneakers. The California label also kicked off a collaboration with Amuse Society, the second installment of which will debut in the spring. To address shifting shopping habits, a new product flow schedule is bringing more frequent deliveries of smaller groupings of shoes.

POWER PLAYERS: Sheena Parks, Tom Ferguson

98. Cathy Taylor, 60, CEO, Millennial Brands

The exec is expanding the company’s digital footprint while connecting to the millennial and Gen Z consumer with key collabs and campaigns. Rocket Dog and stylist Elizabeth Saltzman teamed up on a collection of the label’s ’90s-style signature platform flip-flops in May. Next up, Rocket Dog will partner with stylist Chloe Bartoli for a spring ’18 capsule.

99. James Brett, 48, CEO, J.Crew Group Inc.

It was a year of upheaval at J.Crew as Mickey Drexler and creative chief Jenna Lyons stepped down from their long-held posts amid reorganization. As sluggish sales persisted, the company announced plans to close stores. Brett, a former West Elm exec, is now steering the ship.

POWER PLAYERS: Libby Wadle, Lisa Greenwald

100. Karen Murray, 60, CEO, Sequential Brands Group

Murray hit the ground running in March after replacing Yehuda Shmidman, who abruptly exited his post. Heelys’ expansion into children’s activewear, a full line of men’s and footwear for Joe’s and ongoing sales growth for the Jessica Simpson brand are among the wins so far under Murray’s watch.

POWER PLAYERS: Eddie Esses, Andrew Cooper, Jameel Spencer


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