Stuart Weitzman’s Colleagues Reveal the Magic Behind the Man

After more than 50 years in the shoe business, Stuart Weitzman is hanging up his heels, so to speak. The celebrated designer, who has dressed countless Hollywood stars and built a global fashion empire, is set to retire in May. Here, Weitzman’s longtime colleagues and partners reflect on the singular talent and passion that have driven his massive success.

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CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

“Stuart has always taken our customer’s needs into account and understands how best to cater to what she wants. That unique ability, combined with his warmth, humility and talent, have made him an ideal business partner to Neiman Marcus for decades. He has [kept his brand fresh and relevant] by listening and responding to the customer. In addition to being a business success, Stuart has been a complete delight to work with.”
— Karen Katz, CEO, Neiman Marcus

 

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Susan Duffy, chief marketing officer, Stuart Weitzman Holdings
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

“Stuart isn’t simply a unique talent in the shoe industry; he’s a unique talent, period. There are very few people with his left-brain, right-brain dexterity and ability to both conceptualize and implement. He is the holy trinity of talents: designer, creative director and incredibly astute businessman. Stuart mastered the art and science of shoemaking. He engineers each style to achieve the perfect fit, and his shoes are always a must-have for the fashion-savvy. His success also is due to the fact that his brand is a very democratic brand, meaning there is a style for every woman, regardless of [her age]. His iconic silhouettes have multigenerational appeal. Stuart is leaving a company that is 30 years young and strategically prepared for growth in the next decade and beyond.”
— Susan Duffy, chief marketing officer, Stuart Weitzman Holdings

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Peter Harris, president, Pedder Group
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

“Stuart’s success has been the consequence of his love for his work, a unique understanding of the architecture of footwear, his skill at converting a thought or whimsy into a wearable accessory, and a creativity that has been balanced by a strong pragmatism and business integrity. He created the most elevated American footwear brand — [one that] has remained relevant as a consequence of his immense curiosity and his ability to reinvent the category through design artistry and by using technology and materials in a very modernist way. I’ve known Stuart for more than 25 years, and a favorite memory is traveling with him in China, where the priority at the end of each day was to schedule table-tennis time. I particularly remember the joy and surprise of the young Chinese players when this gentleman from New York walked into their club, picked up a paddle and started to play with underestimated skill and speed.”
— Peter Harris, president, Pedder Group

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Stuart Weitzman with Barbara Kreger, VP of Stuart Weitzman Holdings
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

“Stuart is a brilliant designer and shoemaker who has built a business that should go on long after he retires. I’ve worked with him for more than 35 years, and it’s been wonderful to watch him create. He finds ideas in everything he sees, whether it’s the handle on a teapot or the bow on a woman’s blouse. He’s perpetually drawing and designing, and it’s not work for him — I guess that’s his secret. He just loves what he does. He designs shoes that are not so fantastical that they’re not wearable. The most important thing for him is that a shoe looks good and feels good, too. He invented a construction that’s beautiful but difficult to make. When we went into the factories and the technicians said it couldn’t be made, Stuart just picked up a saw, cut it and made it himself. Our factories understand how to make shoes better because of him. He’s a genius at what he does, yet he’s incredibly unpretentious and down-to-earth. It’s been an honor to work alongside him and learn from him.”
— Barbara Kreger VP, Stuart Weitzman Holdings

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Stuart Weitzman with Kurt Keiger CEO Neil Clifford
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

“I first met Stuart when I was a new boy to the shoe industry in 1995, and we have been good friends ever since. I’m told I am his mensch. He is not just the smartest person I have encountered in the shoe industry, he’s the most clever human being I have ever met. His energy, tenacity and nonstop thinking about how best to look after his customer is a lesson for us all. However early you get up, he will be one step ahead of you. It’s pretty impossible to win against someone with such high levels of natural ability in both art and science. In fact, the only weakness I have discovered in 22 years is his table tennis.”
— Neil Clifford, CEO, Kurt Geiger

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Michelle Love, VP, Nordstrom Rack; former VP and DMM, Nordstrom Salon Shoes
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

“Stuart is a master pingpong player, and he applies the same sportsmanship from his pingpong game to his approach to business. He is super-agile, he moves quickly, and he stays ahead of the competition. He loves this game of speed and he never stops moving or designing.”
— Michele Love, VP, Nordstrom Rack; former VP and DMM, Nordstrom Salon Shoes

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