5 Top Fashion Industry Leaders on Why It’ll Be Difficult to Replace Stuart Weitzman

He’s had quite a ride. One of the most celebrated designers in the shoe business, Stuart Weitzman has spent more than 50 years shaping a global fashion empire. He is set to retire in May, leaving behind a lasting legacy. Here, Weitzman’s longtime colleagues and partners reflect on the singular talent and passion that have driven his success.

Wayne Kulkin, former CEO, Stuart Weitzman
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

“The one word I would use to describe Stuart is unwavering. He’s unwavering in his passion, work ethic and pursuit of excellence. He has this innate curiosity that has driven him to where he is today. When it comes to the product, he is a true innovator who was doing things long before anyone else. For instance, he was a pioneer when it came to using novelty materials such as cork, linen, denim, hand-painted exotics, foils, Lucite and titanium. And for him, it isn’t just about making something beautiful, but making it fit and function well. The longer he’s gone into his career, the harder he’s worked and pushed himself. He’s never stopped learning and experimenting; he’s never rested on his laurels. Stuart also is one of those very rare people with a left-brain, right-brain thing going on. One one side, he is this creative genius and master technician and engineer. On the other side, he is an incredibly smart and savvy businessman who intuitively understands finances and how to scale up and build this global brand. From the very beginning, he’s also been a fierce champion of the independent retailer. He has remained loyal to those independents that helped build his business. There really is no one quite like Stuart. He is a mentor, a friend, a partner, a confidante.”
—Wayne Kulkin, former CEO, Stuart Weitzman

Larry Bienenfeld, president, Jildor Shoes
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

“Stuart is an icon of the shoe industry. He took a modest business started by his father, Seymour, and built it into a massive success on a global level. Many, many people have tried, but very few have been able to achieve this. People always think of Stuart as a designer who comes up with innovative product and trend direction, but he’s also a master at shoemaking — all of the technical stuff. His shoes not only look good but fit beautifully, and that’s what creates success in our industry. He’s always been a great supporter of independent retailers [like myself]. He is an incredibly loyal guy who treats all of his customers, no matter how big or small, with the same care and respect. It’s just part of his mindset. He appreciates the many challenges independents must face to survive and now that he has became a retailer himself, he understands it even more. Stuart will be very hard to replace, and I will miss having all the wonderful conversations I’ve had with him over the years.”
—Larry Bienenfeld, president, Jildor Shoes

Pete Nordstrom, co-president, Nordstrom
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

“Stuart Weitzman has been an incredible partner to Nordstrom for more than three decades. His focus on the customer and ability to continuously evolve reflects his passion for the business. Our partnership has benefitted greatly from his hands-on approach. From his innovative use of unique materials to the attention he pays to the technical details that create a great fit, Stuart has consistently delivered timeless, chic fashion. There are a lot of parallels between the Nordstrom brand and the Stuart Weitzman brand. We were both founded as family businesses with a focus on shoes, service and fashion. We’ve grown together over the years, and we have a lot of admiration and respect for Stuart.”
— Pete Nordstrom, co-president, Nordstrom

Stefani Greenfield, founder and CEO, My Next Act
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

“Stuart and I began our relationship in a shoe closet. Surrounded by samples and swatches, we sat on the floor of his showroom and masterminded the Stuart Weitzman for Scoop collection, which launched a forever friendship. Stuart [has built] a timeless and authentic brand, always driven by passion for product and people. His shoes are innovative but not complicated. He doesn’t follow fads: He celebrates and creates trends that millions of women covet. His marketing campaigns are epic.”
— Stefani Greenfield, founder and CEO, My Next Act

Marc Metrick, president, Saks Fifth Avenue
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

“Stuart is a global leader in the industry — a testament to the man behind the brand. He is a brilliant designer, entrepreneur and marketer, not to mention a great and loyal partner. We wish him tremendous success and happiness.”
— Marc Metrick, president, Saks Fifth Avenue

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