On Dec. 4, Marc Fisher will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the FN Achievement Awards (watch the livestream here). Below is an article from the magazine’s Dec. 3 print issue about how the footwear mogul has built upon his family legacy.
Marc Fisher grew up surrounded by shoes. The son of the late Nine West co-founder, Jerome Fisher, he set his sights on a career in the industry when he was still a child, tagging along with his father to trade shows, dinners with customers and trips to the brand’s Brazilian factories. “There was never even a question that I’d do anything else. As far back as I can remember, I wanted to work with my dad. I loved everything about the shoe business,” he said.
After graduating from college in 1980, the younger Fisher joined Nine West and began learning all facets of the business before taking the helm of the company’s private-label division in 1984. He held that post until 1999, when Jones Apparel Group acquired the company. While his father chose that moment to retire, Fisher stayed on under the new ownership.
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By 2003, he was itching to strike out on his own, so Fisher gathered together a small team and set up shop in his garage, paving the way for the launch of Marc Fisher Footwear. His fledgling firm got off to an auspicious start in 2005, landing a major licensing deal with Guess. Over the next decade, Fisher steadily built a women’s footwear powerhouse, snapping up other high-profile licenses — among them Tommy Hilfiger and Tretorn — and making several big acquisitions, including Sigerson Morrison, Easy Spirit and Unisa.
He also turned his talents to designing and producing his own collections: Marc Fisher, the higher-end Marc Fisher LTD and the junior-focused Indigo Rd. “We felt there were opportunities to do different things [beyond our licensed collections],” Fisher recalled. “We don’t always have to license. It’s important to be diversified.”
Fisher’s partners and peers said his knowledge and passion for shoes run deep, fueling his company’s success. “Marc is a real footwear pro. His attention to detail is impeccable,” said designer Tommy Hilfiger. “[His] brand portfolio speaks for itself, and the development of his own brand has been incredibly impressive.”
Stuart Weitzman, who met Fisher in the early days of his career through Jerome, noted that beyond his business triumphs, Fisher has admirably carried on his family’s legacy of paying their success forward. “Marc is just a super guy,” Weitzman said. “What I admire so much about him, as I did his father, is his compassion for the world outside of footwear. [With causes such as FFANY Shoes on Sale], philanthropy plays a big role in Marc’s life. What better way to be remembered than doing your life’s work well and then helping others because of that success?”
As his company heads into its 15th year, Fisher is taking on a surprising new challenge: the turnaround of Nine West. In a full-circle moment, his firm has been tapped by Authentic Brands Group to relaunch the label’s shoe business, along with sister brand Bandolino. (ABG purchased both in a bankruptcy auction in June.) Fisher said he is getting a kick out of working with Nine West again. “I’m having fun, but there is a lot to fix. Unfortunately, the brand lost its way and went down a different road. Our goal is to bring back the luster and make Nine West a go-to for great fashion styles.”
Indeed for Fisher, the desire to create must-have product continues to drive him after decades in the business. “I love seeing women wear our shoes. I love the fashion cycles, the constant changes, the newness,” he said. “Every season, it’s like, ‘OK, let’s go, let’s hit it.’ It’s energizing.”
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