Footwear News Power List: The Nordstroms, Virgil Abloh, Helena Foulkes + 147 More Big Names

While FN’s 2018 ranking of the most powerful people in the footwear business is far more robust than ever before, the list highlights an industry problem: namely, a lack of women and minorities in the most influential posts. Granted, progress has been achieved (some leaders made their boards more inclusive), but much more work still needs to be done. This year was also challenging for some. A major revolt inside Nike forced Mark Parker to review the Swoosh’s treatment of women, both in terms of pay gaps and claims of harassment. Still, there was plenty to cheer about. And this year’s expanded Power List reflects who’s really shaping the business — from formidable Allbirds duo Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger to perennial powerhouses like Caleres’ Diane Sullivan, who orchestrated another purchase this month. And no one could ignore brand managers Jamie Salter and Nick Woodhouse, who pulled off mega deals of their own — try three in 10 months. For the full list of footwear forces, read through this list as well as our companion piece about other influential trailblazers.

1. Blake Nordstrom, 58, Erik Nordstrom, 55, Pete Nordstrom, 56, Co-Presidents, Nordstrom Inc.

The Nordstroms moved on quickly from a failed go-private effort, making a splash in Manhattan with a much-anticipated men’s store. They continue to bet big on L.A. — with three Nordstrom Local service hubs now open to reflect the department store’s industry-leading push for service and experience. A revamped loyalty program — rolled out this month — is in the same vein. They will debut a Manhattan women’s flagship in 2019.

Key Execs: Jamie Nordstrom, Scott Meden, Kristin Frossmo, Jeffrey Kalinsky

2. Kasper Rorsted, 56, CEO, Adidas

Rorsted, along with Mark King successor Zion Armstrong, racked up considerable sales growth globally. Despite negative headlines from an NCAA college basketball scandal, the brand dominated NBA All-Star Weekend with its massive 747 Warehouse St. activation, continued to fight marine plastic waste with the second Run for the Oceans and became a FIFA World Cup sponsor.

Key Execs: Armstrong, Eric Liedtke, Karen Parkin

*POWER PLAYERS* Matt O’Toole spent the last year refocusing Reebok on the U.S. market with a consolidated team now housed in a new Boston headquarters. The president also redirected the brand toward female consumers with partners such as Gal Gadot, Ariana Grande and Victoria Beckham.

Kasper Rorsted, adidas, ceo
Kasper Rorsted
CREDIT: Kagan McLeod

3. Mark Parker, 63, Chairman, President & CEO, Nike Inc.

With a revolt by women inside the company and several resulting high-profile departures, Parker had to move fast to lose the “boy’s club” culture. He took steps to close the gender pay gap and put more women in positions of power. The exec also tackled social issues such as immigration and put marketing weight behind former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, known for kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice.

Key Execs: Hannah Jones, John Hoke, Michael Spillane

*POWER PLAYERS*  Davide Grasso has aimed to diversify Converse beyond the Chuck Taylor All Star, drawing attention to other core styles from the archives such as the One Star. Buzzy partners like Miley Cyrus, Tyler the Creator and JW Anderson have aided in the effort.

4. Dick Johnson, 60, Chairman, President & CEO, Foot Locker, Inc.

Johnson has his sights set on the future. To that end, he refreshed the sneaker giant’s e-commerce experience, pilot-tested retail concepts in New York City and Pennsylvania, and expanded into new markets in Asia.

Key Execs: Pawan Verma, Jake Jacobs, Lauren Peters

5. Diane Sullivan, 63, CEO, President & Chairman, Caleres Inc.

Sullivan continues to lead the way in cultivating female talent at the top — from the boardroom to Caleres’ executive ranks, such as tapping Disney’s Molly Adams to be president of Famous Footwear. The family retailer continued to show solid strength in Q2, while Sam Edelman led the way in wholesale. Sullivan made two notable deals to diversify the portfolio. She snapped up rising comfort label Vionic, led by Chris Gallagher, for $360 million this month after nabbing juniors’ label Blowfish Malibu in July. Sullivan and the Caleres team are reinvigorating Allen Edmonds to cater to a younger consumer.

Key Execs: Adams, Jay Schmidt

*POWER PLAYERS* The Sam Edelman business, run by the eponymous founder and wife Libby Edelman, continues to enjoy huge momentum (it’s up 115 percent over the last five years) and is plotting international growth. The couple has also expanded into categories such as athleisure, outerwear, dresses and denim.

Diane Sullivan
Diane Sullivan
CREDIT: Kagan McLeod

6. Robert Greenberg, 76, Michael Greenberg, 55, Chairman & CEO; President, Skechers USA Inc.

The company achieved a new quarterly sales record of $1.18 billion in Q3. International — which accounts for more than half of its overall revenues— continues to be a boon, with China, India and Europe cited as major growth drivers. Pop songstress and company spokeswoman Camila Cabello fronted attention-grabbing ads for the Greenbergs, and Skechers D’Lites chunky sneakers were in the fashion spotlight.

Key Exec: David Weinberg

7. Jeff Bezos, 54, Tony Hsieh, 44, Founder, Chairman & CEO, Amazon; CEO, Zappos

Bezos cultivated his empire with a persistent fashion push hinged on private-label offerings and new alliances with brands like J.Crew. A 36-hour-long Prime Day — offered in four additional markets — topped the company’s previous record, and Bezos saw his net worth rise to $151 billion. Hsieh continued to make his mark on Vegas, unveiling the Zappos Theater along with a major investment in Boston boutique Concepts.

Key Execs: Jeff Espersen, Mike Normart, Eileen Tetreault, Tarek Hassan

8. Steve Madden, 60, Ed Rosenfeld, 43, Founder, Creative and Design Chief; Chairman & CEO, Steve Madden

Blockbuster gains continued across Madden’s portfolio, with its Q2 sales rising to $396 million, thanks to momentum at the flagship brand and advances at Dolce Vita and Blondo. The firm nabbed the Anne Klein footwear and handbag license, and both Betsey Johnson and Steve Madden expanded into fragrance. Madden made perhaps his biggest move by naming former Lord & Taylor boss Liz Rodbell to the newly created position of group president of retail, accessories and licensing.

Key Execs: Rodbell, Amelia Newton Varela, Danny Friedman, Jason Seitz, Nick Lucio

9. Steve Rendle, 59, President, Chairman & CEO, VF Corp.

With mega growth at Vans leading the pack, Rendle steered VF through a transformative year, selling off Nautica and Reef, and picking up performance shoe brand Altra. Activity culminated with the firm unveiling plans to separate its footwear and apparel business from its denim division to form two companies — and planning to move its global headquarters to Denver, from Greensboro, N.C., in 2019.

Key Execs: Steve Murray, Curt Holtz, Doug Palladini, Jim Pisani, Arne Arens

10. Blake Krueger, 64, President, Chairman & CEO, Wolverine World Wide Inc.

Under Krueger’s steady hand, Wolverine pivoted from transformation to growth mode unveiling a new strategy focused on buzzy product, impactful storytelling and accelerated digital. On the product side, Sperry returned to gains, and Merrell continued its reign — helping the firm’s Q2 profits more than double to $55 million on sales of $567 million.

Key Execs: Mike Stornant, Mike Jeppesen, Todd Spaletto, Richie Woodworth, Greg Tunney, Jim Zwiers, Chip Coe

 

11. Manolo Blahnik, 75, Kristina Blahnik, 44, George Malkemus, 64,  Founder & Designer; CEO, Manolo Blahnik International; President, Manolo Blahnik USA

The Blahniks continued a global push, opening standalone stores in Doha, Qatar, Geneva and Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands. A men’s-only boutique opened in London’s Burlington Arcade, and the designer debuted a men’s accessories collection this fall. Next month, the label — which has become a favorite of Meghan Markle — will celebrate a decade of the coveted Hangisi pump with a limited-edition capsule collection.

12. Christian Louboutin, 55,  Founder & Designer, Christian Louboutin

The house aligned its Paris presentation schedule with the couture calendar and spring ’19, where it showcased special-order one-off pieces crafted in its Paris atelier. The designer also expanded his Nudes collection with two new silhouettes: ribbon and ostrich feather high-heeled sandals and jewel-festooned brogues.

Key Execs: Alexis Mourot, Catherine Roggero

13. Doug McMillon, 52, President & CEO, Walmart. Inc.

With Amazon nipping at its heels, Walmart fired up its fashion business with the rollout of three private-label collections and a premium online platform in partnership with Lord & Taylor. While the Arkansas retailer sold off its troubled Brazilian operation, it made a major play for the Indian market, snapping up local e-commerce giant Flipkart for $16 billion.

Key Execs: Greg Foran, Judith McKenna, Marc Lore

14. Jim Davis, 75, Rob DeMartini, 57, Chairman; CEO & President, New Balance

New Balance benefited from the dad shoe craze, with its 990v4 silhouette leading the trend. The Boston-based brand also launched a new platform (“Fearlessly Independent Since 1906”) and announced a long-term agreement to become the official footwear and apparel company of the New York Mets and Citi Field.

Key Execs: Anne Davis, Chris Davis

15. Richard Baker, 53, Helena Foulkes, 54, Executive Chairman; CEO, Hudson’s Bay Co.

Working to improve profitability, Baker and Foulkes, who joined in February, took aggressive steps, selling off Gilt Groupe, unloading half of the firm’s European business and announcing plans to shutter 10 Lord & Taylor stores, including the New York flagship. One bright spot was Saks Fifth Avenue, where Q2 comp sales rose 6.7 percent.

Key Execs: Marc Metrick, Vanessa LeFebvre, Alison Coville, Tracy Margolies

16. Michael Kors, 59, John Idol, 59, Honorary Chairman & Chief Creative Officer; Chairman & CEO, Capri Holdings Ltd.

Kors’ empire building continued. Topping last year’s Jimmy Choo acquisition, the designer’s firm scooped up Versace for a cool $2.1 billion (prompting a corporate name change). And it seems the buying spree is already paying off: Choo delivered in a big way in Q1, boosting the bottom line by nearly $173 million.

Key Execs: Francesca Leoni, Michele Chan, Philippa Newman

*POWER PLAYERS*  Pierre Denis and Sandra Choi continue to refine Jimmy Choo’s winning formula through aggressive global expansion — with Asia at the top of the list — and trend-right styles that translate commercially.

John Idol
John Idol
CREDIT: Kagan McLeod

17. Jeff Gennette, 56, Chairman & CEO, Macy’s Inc.

Under Gennette’s leadership, the tides have turned for Macy’s. In its most recent quarter, it topped estimates across the board, thanks to more effective inventory management. Its shares have also soared, gaining more than 100 percent since November 2017 lows. E-commerce continues to be a priority — the retailer this month announced a partnership with Facebook that will bring digital-first brands to its stores.

Key Execs: Hal Lawton, Muriel Gonzalez, Tony Spring, Rachel Shechtman

18. Victor Luis 52, CEO, Tapestry Inc.

During a year that saw the death of its legendary founder, Kate Spade New York marked its 25th anniversary. To lead the brand forward, Luis appointed two female execs — CEO Anna Bakst and creative director Nicola Glass — who have big ambitions for the label. Stuart Weitzman found itself in transition. Creative director Giovanni Morelli stepped down for alleged misconduct. Coach made notable strides in the handbag category and relaunched footwear. Luis is bolstering the entire portfolio’s focus on the Chinese consumer.

Key Execs: Josh Schulman, Stuart Vevers, Bakst, Glass, Eraldo Poletto, Francesca Bertoncini, Edmundo Castillo

19. Francois-Henri Pinault, 56, Chairman & CEO, Kering

Kering’s Balenciaga brand was at the center of the chunky-sneaker boom — with the coveted Triple S sneaker leading the way. The label followed this up in the fall with its buzzed-about Track style. Gucci’s trajectory under CEO Marco Bizzarri and creative director Alessandro Michele seemingly knows no bounds. Organic sales at the brand increased 35 percent in Q3 — the seventh consecutive quarter of growth hitting or exceeding 35 percent.

Key Execs: Anthony Vaccarello, Bizzarri, Michele, Demna Gvasalia,

20. Bob Campbell, 81, Chairman & CEO, BBC International

Campbell’s firm delved  deeper into the athletic space with the launch of Champion adult and kids’ shoes. Under Heelys, a splashy new TV campaign rolled out, while the Marvel franchise got a boost from “Black Panther.” BBC plans to announce yet another new brand next year.

Key Execs: Donald Wilborn, Josue Solano, Seth Campbell

 

21. Aldo Bensadoun, 79, David Bensadoun, 48, Founder; CEO, Aldo Group

Though he missed out on acquiring Camuto Group, David Bensadoun secured a five-year deal with Kurt Geiger that will boost Aldo’s expansion in the U.K. and Ireland. Additionally, the firm took a stance on the environment, becoming the first fashion footwear company to be certified carbon-neutral.

Key Execs: Norman Jaskolka, Jonathan Frankel, Daianara Amalfitano

22. Roger Rawlins, 52, Debbie Ferrée, 65, CEO; Vice Chairman & Chief Merchandising Officer, DSW Inc.

DSW is defying rumors of the death of retail. It posted a 9.7 percent comp-sales gain for Q2, profiting from its expanded kids’ business and savvy buys by Ferrée’s merchant team. Rawlins helped engineer one of the industry’s most unique M&A deals to date when DSW linked up with Authentic Brands Group to acquire Camuto Group.

Key Execs: Jay Schottenstein,William Jordan, Simon Nankervis

*DEAL IN PROGRESS*

Alex Del Cielo, 59, CEO & Chairman, Camuto Group

To prep for its sale, the company hired turnaround adviser Clear Thinking Group, made an aggressive entry into the kids’ market, launched a costume jewelry business and acquired Sole Society, a multibranded site intended to enhance Camuto’s offerings.

Key Execs: Ed Ferrell, Julio Martini, Leah Robert

Roger Rawlings
Roger Rawlings
CREDIT: Kagan McLeod

23. Bernard Arnault, 69, Chairman & CEO, LVMH Inc.

Arnault’s luxury group made some serious noise this year. Louis Vuitton tapped streetwear star Virgil Abloh as its new men’s artistic director, while Kim Jones debuted at Dior Homme and Hedi Slimane landed at Celine. Givenchy, meanwhile, scored the publicity moment of a lifetime, dressing Meghan Markle for her wedding.

Key Execs: Nicolas Ghesquière, Maria Grazia Chiuri

*POWER PLAYER* Nicholas Kirkwood staged his first runway show during September’s London Fashion Week. The dystopian production featuring Kirkwood’s fall ’19 campaign star, Rose McGowan, showcased one-off creations and see-now, buy-now styles from spring ’19.

24. Virgil Abloh, 38, Creative Director & Founder, Off-white; Men’s Artistic Director, Louis Vuitton

The most talked-about designer of the year had one big moment after another. Abloh was named the first African-American artistic director at Louis Vuitton for men’s in March and garnered strong reviews for his first show in June. He also continued to drop coveted collabs with Nike and designed Serena Williams’ remarkable U.S. Open ensemble.

Virgil Abloh, off white, louis vuitton
Virgil Abloh
CREDIT: Kagan McLeod

25. Geoffroy van Raemdonck, 46, CEO, Neiman Marcus Group

Under Raemdonck, Neiman Marcus’ turnaround plan began to take hold. Last month, the firm announced its fourth consecutive quarter of comp increases as it made investments in digital, supply chain and delivering unique shopping experiences. Meanwhile, Neiman’s long-awaited New York flagship is set to open in March. Bergdorf Goodman partnered with Iris Apfel on a pop-up shop and launched attention-grabbing capsules with Alexandre Birman and Tabitha Simmons, among others.

Key Execs: Jim Gold, Darcy Penick, Michael Kilger, Linda Fargo, Ken Downing

26. Bob Dennis,  64, Chairman, CEO & President, Genesco Inc.

A tough retail climate and the retirement of longtime Journeys boss Jim Estepa could have hindered company performance. It didn’t. Instead, a smart succession plan at the teen chain, along with favorable sales both there and at Johnston & Murphy, led to positive store comps in Q2. Additionally, Q3 was headed in the right direction, thanks to a solid U.S. footwear business, though international uncertainty could dampen results from Schuh.

Key Execs: Mario Gallione, Jonathan Caplan

27. Mike George, 57, President & CEO, Qurate Retail Inc.

With HSN Inc. fully in its fold, George led a massive corporate rebrand with a new name, Qurate, and logo. Since then, the retailer — which includes HSN, QVC and Zulily, among others — has broadened how it connects with shoppers through video commerce. The company came up short, though, in Q2, with revenue hitting $3.23 billion against Wall Street’s expected $3.24 billion.

Key Exec: Greg Maffei

28. Gianvito Rossi, 51, Founder, Creative Director & CEO, Gianvito Rossi

Product continued to be at the epicenter of Rossi’s brand, while celebrities including Amal Clooney remained fans. The designer presented successful collections during both Milan Fashion Weeks, and he introduced a range of clutches, belts and gloves designed to match his shoes.

Key Execs: Giammarco Rossi, Nicola Rossi, Nicola Paganelli

29. Miuccia Prada, 69, Designer & Co-CEO, Prada SPA

Following last year’s decline, there was a 10.7 percent rise in Prada’s net profits in the first half, with sales of 1.53 billion euros ($1.76 billion). The turnaround was credited to enhanced engagement and excitement generated by collaborations and drops such as the reissue of the brand’s famous Flame sandals and the reprise of its ’90s classic black nylon across all categories.

Key Exec: Patrizio Bertelli

Miuccia Prada
Miuccia Prada
CREDIT: Kagan McLeod

30. Diego Della Valle, 64, Chairman, Tod’s SpA (tie)

Della Valle shook up the status quo at Tod’s, embracing a new business model that saw the luxury brand drop more collections throughout the year and experiment with limited-edition collaborations. “It” girl Kendall Jenner fronted the brand’s spring campaign, an effort to court younger consumers. At Roger Vivier, Gherardo Felloni was named creative director.

Key Execs: Felloni, Inès de la Fressange

30. Tim Brown, 37, Joey Zwillinger, 37, Co-Founders, Allbirds (tie)

The duo continued to turn the direct-to-consumer wool sneaker startup into a Silicon Valley phenomenon. Brown and Zwillinger opened the sustainable brand’s third store, in London, (with plans to expand to Asia) and secured more than $75 million in funding.

Tim Brown , Joey Zwillinger, Allbirds
Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger.
CREDIT: Kagan McLeod

 

31. Daniella Vitale, 51, CEO & President, Barneys New York

Although speculation abounded that Barneys would be forced to vacate or downsize its famed Madison Avenue flagship in the face of a steep rent hike, the store stayed put. Within the shoe space, celebrities Jordyn Woods and Justine Skye were tapped to design exclusive women’s styles, while Sole Series delivered buzzy collabs from Brandblack and Clearweather.

Key Execs: Jennifer Sunwoo, Tom Kalenderian, Jay Bell

Daniella Vitale
Daniella Vitale
CREDIT: Kagan McLeod

32. Bruce Rockowitz, 59, CEO, Vice Chairman & Executive Director, Global Brands Group Holding Ltd.

The company saw significant digital success and omnichannel growth from brands including Calvin Klein. Katy Perry’s shoe line made strides with her recent appearance on QVC, and Frye evolved beyond boots, with its sneaker category sales up 15 percent year over year.

Key Exec: Jim Gabriel

33. Björn Gulden 53, CEO, Puma

French luxury goods group Kering officially spun off Puma this spring. In the months since, the company stepped up its growth initiatives, particularly in the U.S. Under Gulden, Puma, which turned 70 this year, returned to its basketball roots, tapped Jay-Z as creative director and leveraged some of its biggest assets (Selena Gomez, Big Sean and The Weeknd) for campaigns and coveted product releases.

Key Execs: Bob Philion, Curtis Charles, Allison Giorgio, Adam Petrick

34. Marc Fisher, 60, CEO & Founder, Marc Fisher Footwear

Fisher shuffled his brand roster. In June, his firm picked up the licenses for Nine West and Bandolino following their purchase by Authentic Brands Group. But the following month, collaborator Ivanka Trump opted to close her fashion label, and in September, Fisher sold off the Kendall + Kylie brand.

Key Execs: Susan Itzkowitz, Terry Solis

35. Neil Clifford, 51, CEO, Kurt Geiger (tie)

The British powerhouse made a major return to America this year with a more diverse product range and broader price points. Back at home, Clifford teamed with Selfridges on a standalone sneaker space that stocks more than 700 styles. Expansion plans are on tap for Harrods’ Shoe Heaven, and men’s showed big growth across the entire company.

Key Execs: Peter Bolliger, Rebecca Farrar-Hockley, Steven Sousa, Michelle Ryan

35. Kevin Plank, 46, Chairman & CEO, Under Armour Inc. (tie)

Even with hotly hyped collaborations — from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and A$AP Rocky — and newly signed hoops heavyweight Joel Embiid, Plank’s company found itself in foreign financial territory: It slashed 400 jobs to curb costs, faced multiple investor lawsuits and saw its stock struggle.

Key Execs: Patrik Frisk, Dave Dombrow

36. Ronnie Fieg, 36, Founder, CEO & Creative Director, Kith

Fieg topped his stellar 2017 with a year of compelling collaborations, activations and retail expansion. But his biggest moment came during New York Fashion Week in September when he wowed attendees with his jawdropping Tommy Hilfiger, Greg Lauren and Versace collaborations.

37. Michelle Gass, 50, CEO, Kohl’s Corp.

Gass took the helm in May following the retirement of longtime leader Kevin Mansell. She hit the ground running, landing a major deal to sell Nine West shoes, clothing and handbags beginning in July 2019. Strong gains in the activewear space sparked a 30-store expansion test, delivering increased square footage and a broader assortment.

Key Execs: Doug Howe, Ronald Murray

38. Bob Goldman, 76, CEO, Chinese Laundry

Goldman kept his company buzzing with special consumer events including a Los Angeles pop-up and a music-festival blogger activation. Chinese Laundry also collaborated on photo shoots with influencers, inked a new intimates licensee and opened eight stores in Mexico. In February, the high-end 42 Gold brand will be unveiled.

Key Execs: Stewart Goldman, Tsering Namgyal

39. Dave Powers, 52, President & CEO, Deckers Brands

Things began looking up across Powers’ portfolio as Ugg, which celebrated its 40th anniversary, emerged from a period of softness to post multiple strong quarters, while Hoka One One enjoyed ongoing and solid momentum. In Q1, Ugg’s sales advanced 19 percent to $136.5 million, and Hoka’s surged 53 percent to $47 million.

Key Execs: Andrea O’Donnell, Wendy Yang, Stefano Caroti

40. Peter Harris, 55, President, Pedder Group

Last year, Pedder, a division of The Lane Crawford Joyce Group, expanded its retail strategy, moving into e-commerce for the first time. The move was a response to the shifting Asian consumer, who was shopping more online for luxury shoes.

Key Execs: Carmen Cheng, Su Kim

41. Jim Issler, 70, President & CEO, Berkshire Hathaway Shoe Holdings Inc.

Following the 2017 merger of H.H. Brown and Justin Brands, Issler took on an expanded role — overseeing both businesses. The Western space was a key focus for the firm. In addition to the rollout next month of Justin’s second collection with Reba McEntire, two other celebrity collaborations are in the pipeline.

Key Execs: Tom McClaskie, Greg Crouchley, David Issler, Victor Sanders

42. Stephen Rubin, 80, Andy Rubin, 53, Chairman, Pentland Group Plc; Chairman, Pentland Brands Ltd.

The British powerhouse established a footwear joint venture with The Lacoste Group. SeaVees’ U.S. sales increased 50 percent, and the brand debuted in the U.K. The Rubins inked a licensing deal with British retailer Karen Millen and launched Ellesse shoes in the U.S. and Canada. And in a blockbuster athletic acquisition, JD Sports — which is majority-owned by Pentland — nabbed Finish Line.

Key Execs: Carrie Rubin, Andy Long, Carl Davies, Richard Newcombe

43. Peter Cowgill, 65, Executive Chairman, JD Sports Fashion PLC

Despite a turbulent backdrop in the U.K., retail giant JD Sports swooped in for a surprise acquisition of Finish Line Inc. The $558 million deal gave it an immediate footprint in the U.S. specialty channel. That move paid off: In the few months since, Finish Line added $235 million in sales to JD’s first-half earnings.

Key Exec: Sam Sato

44. Jamie Salter, 55, Nick Woodhouse, 49, Chairman & CEO; President & Chief Marketing Officer, Authentic Brands Group

Salter and Woodhouse pulled off not one or two major deals but three. The duo bought Nautica from VF Corp., beat out several bidders to acquire the bankrupt Nine West Holdings and, in partnership with DSW Inc., nabbed a majority stake in the intellectual property of the Camuto Group. ABG also unveiled proprietary software that pinpoints influencers to promote its massive stable of brands.

Key Execs: Daniel Dienst, Kevin Clarke, Jay Dubiner

Nick Woodhouse and Jamie Salter
Nick Woodhouse and Jamie Salter
CREDIT: Kagan McLeod

45. Edward Stack, 63, Chairman & CEO, Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc.

In an unusual corporate move that was both hailed and hated, Stack tightened the firm’s gun policy following February’s school shooting in Florida. That decision, along with a weaker Under Armour business, was a drag on the sporting goods retailer’s Q2, where same-store sales declined 4 percent over the same period last year.

46. Brian Cornell, 59, Chairman & CEO, Target Corp.

The Bullseye was busy. Doubling down on the fashion category, the chain launched a slew of proprietary brands, a Cat & Jack subscription box service and a collab with Hunter. A wall-to-wall remodel of 1,000 stores is underway, while dozens of small-format doors are set to open over the next few years. The moves helped Target log its biggest comp-sales gain in 13 years, 6.5 percent in Q2.

Key Execs: Mark Tritton, Julie Guggemos

47. Pierre Hardy, 62, President, Pierre Hardy

Along with his work at Hermès, Hardy is evolving his eponymous brand. The designer launched a sunglass capsule with Hervé Domar as well as a shoe collaboration with model Liya Kebede. Plus, through his Édition Limitée label, Hardy debuted the Trek Comet sneaker, a reissued iconic style in neon, with only 150 units available.

48. Rihanna, 30, Founder, Fenty

The singer continues to round out her fashion empire, which now includes shoes, lingerie, clothing and cosmetics. Still, it wasn’t all smooth sailing: Demand for her once-hot Puma Creepers seemed to have cooled, and her partnership with the athletic brand appeared uncertain. Her use of the initials “FU,” for Fenty University, became the subject of a trademark suit from Freedom United Clothing.

49. Jack Ma, 54, Daniel Zhang, 46, Executive Chairman; CEO, The Alibaba Group

Ma continued to steer the mega Chinese e-tailer to multibillion-dollar wins — including a record-making 2018 Singles Day and $12.2 billion revenues in the most recent quarter — a gain of 61 percent year over year. Ma, who grew increasingly vocal about Trump’s trade war in recent months, announced he’d retire in 2019, passing the torch to Zhang.

Key Execs: Michael Evans, Joe Tsai

50. Micaela Le Divelec Lemmi, 50, Massimo Ferragamo, 61, CEO, Ferragamo SPA; Chairman, Ferragamo USA

Following the exit of Eraldo Poletto, Le Divelec Lemmi was appointed CEO in July. She joined the house from various roles at Kering, most recently at Gucci. First-half net profit dropped 23.1 percent, and revenues decreased 6.2 percent.

Key Execs: Paul Andrew, James Ferragamo, Ferruccio Ferragamo

51. Sophia Webster, 33, Founder & Creative Director, Sophia Webster Ltd.

The British designer opened her brand’s second London location, which includes an experiential concept space. She also introduced free worldwide shipping and local currency payment options on the label’s e-commerce site to further international growth. On the product side, Webster launched accessible shoe styles for consumers with the popular “Essentials” collection.

Key Exec: Bobby Stockley

52. Giuseppe Zanotti, 61, President & Creative Director, Giuseppe Zanotti

With the debut of his first flagship store in Sydney, Zanotti continued to grow internationally. The designer also put collaborations on the forefront, including the spring ’19 capsule collection with designer Christian Cowan and the Michael Jackson “Tribute” sneakers.

Key Exec: Alain Baume

53. Blake Mycoskie, 42, Founder & Chief Shoe Giver, Toms Shoes

After Moody’s downgraded Toms’ debt ratings and a $300 million loan payment due in 2020 surfaced, the firm became the subject of bankruptcy rumors and takeover talk. Still, Mycoskie pressed ahead by selling more products online direct to consumers — and by appealing to them with Disney collaborations and a technical climbing shoe.

Key Exec: Jim Alling

54. Kenneth Cole, 64, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Kenneth Cole Productions

International expansion was the name of the game for Cole as he marked the 35th anniversary of his firm. The company broke new ground in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India and Australia.

Key Execs: Marc Schneider, Roberto Zamarra, Greg Tarbell, Sharon Seelig

55. Paul Andrew, 39, CEO & Chief Creative Officer, Paul Andrew

The designer’s first collection as women’s creative director of Salvatore Ferragamo debuted in February to much buzz. Then he was nominated for the CFDA’s Accessory Designer of the Year Award for his eponymous label. And with Meghan Markle as a fan, Andrew’s brand continues to thrive.

56. Jerry Stritzke, 58, President & CEO, REI Co-op

Outside of store openings and creating new positions (chief customer officer and chief digital officer), Stritzke spearheaded outdoor initiatives including hosting 75 events on National Public Lands Day and investing nearly $645,000 in National Scenic Trails. Also, the retailer engaged consumers with its #CampingHBOContest in conjunction with the debut of the network’s comedy series “Camping.”

Key Execs: Eric Artz, Raquel Karls, Rachel Ligtenberg

57. Alexandre Birman, 41, CEO & Designer, Arezzo & Co.

Birman celebrated 10 years of his namesake brand with his first U.S. flagship in New York, as well as an e-commerce site in the States. The executive has also focused on growing the European market with the hire of Stuart Weitzman vet Wayne Kulkin as head of international operations, along with opening a showroom in Milan.

Key Execs: Milena Penteado, Kulkin

58. Patrick Chalhoub, 60, Co-CEO, Chalhoub Group

Level Shoes kicked off its “Sneakers Anonymous” campaign, which featured an in-store event and a dedicated sneaker wall housing 30 brands, including styles from Christian Louboutin, Dolce & Gabbana, Emilio Pucci and Zegna. The retailer launched three international designers — Jennifer Chamandi, Amina Muaddi and Midnight 00 — exclusively in the Middle East.

Key Execs: Thierry Pichon, Alberto Oliveros, Rania Masri

59. Oliver Reichert, 47, Markus Bensberg 54, Co-CEOs, Birkenstock Group

The company partnered with Rick Owens to bring its Birkenstock Box retail concept to L.A. It also released a collection with KPM, signaling upcoming collabs and fresh designs. Under the U.S. leadership of David Kahan, the 2017 FN Brand of the Year opened its first U.S. flagship store in NYC, bringing its global store count to 47.

Key Exec: Kahan

60. Steen Borgholm, 44, CEO, Ecco Sko A/S

In his first year as CEO, Borgholm delivered strong results, due in part to products such as Exostrike, which combines outdoor attributes with sneaker styling. Its tanneries introduced DriTan leather, a step toward water-free leather production.

Key Execs: Michel Krol, Dave Quel, Panos Mytaros

61. Ralph Lauren, 79,  Executive Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Ralph Lauren

The legendary designer celebrated the 50th anniversary of his company this year with a CFDA honor, a Rizzoli tome and a blockbuster September runway show featuring his greatest hits. And on the numbers side, the firm posted a 3 percent revenue gain in fiscal Q1 to $1.4 billion.

Key Execs: Patrice Louvet, Valérie Hermann, David Lauren

62. Gene Yoon, 73, Jon Epstein, 63, Global Chairman, Fila; President, Fila N.A.

Everything old is new again, especially with Fila. Epstein and Yoon struck gold by digging into the label’s past, especially with its chunky Disruptor 2 sneaker, one of the hottest shoes to hit fashion this year. To fuel the buzz, the company leaders reunited with famed athlete ambassadors (Bjorn Borg and Grant Hill). Also, Fila held its first Milan Fashion Week runway show in September.

Key Execs: Jennifer Estabrook, Mark Eggert, Gary Wakley, Kelly Funke

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

A year after expanding into new markets, Brooks focused on broadening its product range — specifically, it introduced two cushioning techs, DNA Amp and DNA Loft. Also, ambassador Des Linden became the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years.

Key Execs: Melanie Allen, Dan Sheridan, Patrick Pons de Vier

64. Mandy Cabot, 63, CEO, Dansko

Athleisure continued to be a rapidly growing category for the firm, while the new XP 2.0 duty shoe, an update to the Pro XP, developed a strong following due to its comfort features. Under Cabot, the brand launched an online storytelling concept, “Embrace 2018 Your Journey,” with videos spotlighting consumers’ adventures.

Key Execs: Jim Fox, Mimi Curry

65. Tabitha Simmons, 47, Founder & Designer, Tabitha Simmons

Collaborations with The Brock Collection and Johanna Ortiz were crucial for business. Simmons in August also elevated Norah Atterbury to CEO, from director of sales. The company is primed for more expansion, which includes possible category launches and digital developments.

Key Exec: Atterbury

66. John Varvatos, 63, Founder & Designer, John Varvatos (tie)

Varvatos eschewed his usual rock ’n’ roll aesthetic in favor of more subdued past hits for fall ’18. The company created its first jewelry collection. Nick Jonas became the face of the label after he rolled out a capsule collaboration and fragrance with the designer.

66. David Miller, 62, Scott Sessa, 59, CEO; President, Minnetonka Moccasin Co. (tie)

Minnetonka bolstered its business this year through new connections. The firm signed a licensing deal with Wolverine World Wide for men’s and women’s slippers under the Sperry and Hush Puppies labels. And it will launch collabs with Sleepy Jones in November and Lottie Moss in spring ’19.

Key Exec: Jori Miller

67. Pierpaolo Piccioli, 51, Creative Director, Valentino

Making couture approachable and streetwear beautiful is the genius of Piccioli. In the last year, he launched the VLTN athleisure line, dressed Anne Hathaway for the Met Gala and collaborated with musicians Nas, A$AP Ferg and Keith Ape on custom men’s creations. If that weren’t enough, he delivered collection after breathtaking collection, one of which included noteworthy feather trimmed sneakers.

Key Exec: Stefano Sassi

68. Cliff Sifford, 65, President & CEO, Shoe Carnival

Sifford’s winning strategy — easing store expansion, boosting digital and stocking deep runs — has yielded back-to-back quarters of earnings growth. In Q2, the firm’s revenues advanced to $268.4 million, while comparable sales surged nearly 7 percent — a figure that’s hard to come by in the current retail climate.

Key Execs: Wayne Weaver, Carl Scibetta, Kerry Jackson, Tim Baker

69. Edgardo Osorio, 32, Creative Director & Founder, Aquazzura

The designer made headlines throughout the year after becoming a go-to for Meghan Markle and opening his second store in New York. Osorio also launched multiple collaborations, including his second with model Claudia Schiffer.

70. Seung Phil Jeong, 48, Chairman & CEO, K-Swiss Global Brands

K-Swiss worked to right the ship, establishing credibility with its entrepreneurial-focused consumers through its Gary Vaynerchuk collabs. Meanwhile, its Supra banner endeared itself with skateboarders through the first pro model shoe for Spencer Hamilton, and a France-based design team was hired for Palladium.

Key Exec: Barney Waters

71. Federico Marchetti, 49, CEO, Yoox Net-a-Porter Group

With 2017 sales topping 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion), the group was bought out in June by majority shareholder Richemont. The two companies will continue to operate independently. This year also saw the launch of YNAP-powered digital flagships with Alaïa and Balmain, plus the launch of Mr Porter-branded shoes and accessories.

Key Execs: Alison Loehnis, Alberto Grignolo

72. Gary Champion, 65, President, Clarks Americas Inc.

The wholesale and e-commerce divisions experienced year-on-year double-digit growth. Under Champion’s watch, a new Pure design retail concept debuted at NorthPark Center in Dallas, a format that’s been duplicated in select independent accounts. The Bostonian brand has undergone a makeover for fall ’18.

Key Execs: Tara McRae, Joe Casagrande

73. Joe Ouaknine, 65, Chairman, Titan Industries

The company tapped footwear exec Joel Oblonsky as its new CEO in May. Now the leaders are working on a growth strategy focused on acquisitions. The firm holds licenses for Badgley Mischka, Jewel Badgley Mischka and Splendid.

Key Exec: Oblonsky

74. Pat Mooney, 49, President, Footwear Unlimited

Mooney was in investment mode, developing platforms and distribution centers to meet the challenges of a changing retail landscape. The firm also committed heavily to digital marketing  and social media, and doubled down on the tech features in its Baretraps collection.

Key Execs: Andy Smith, Bill Downey, Jerry Williamson

75. José Neves, 44, CEO, Farfetch

This was the year it all came together for Neves. Farfetch’s IPO launched on the New York Stock Exchange in September at $20 per share — and it soared to $28.45 on the first day of trading, valuing the company at $8.2 billion. This followed the launch of an Arabic site in partnership with the Chalhoub Group.

Key Exec: Natalie Massenet

Jose Neves
Jose Neves
CREDIT: Kagan McLeod

76. Gene McCarthy, 62, President & CEO, Asics America

Aside from hot product launches (notably the Hyper-Gel franchise), in year three at the helm, McCarthy oversaw the opening of its Creation Studio in Boston, the debut of the Women’s Collective (an internal empowerment initiative) and became the footwear sponsor for entertainment company Live Nation.

Key Execs: Sarah Bishop, Ian Dickinson

77. Jill Soltau, 51, CEO, JCPenney

Tough times badgered JCPenney as slipping sales and lagging momentum persisted. After three years at the helm, Marvin Ellison left for Lowe’s in June. A four-month CEO search and pressured financials sent the firm’s share price down to a meager $2 before former Joann Stores chief Soltau was named to the top post this month.

Key Exec: Jodie Johnson

78, Bruce Cagner, 72, Evan Cagner, 45,  Chairman; CEO, Synclaire Brands

The Cagners continued their licensing spree, adding Born Kids to the stable and inking a multibrand deal with Nickelodeon. The father-son duo also made two acquisitions, kids’ brand Chooze and Skicks, known for its licensed college sneakers. And there’s more to come: Three major initiatives are in the works.

Key Exec: Sarah Caplan

79. Rebecca Minkoff, 37, Uri Minkoff, 43, Co-Founder & Creative Director; Co-Founder & CEO, Rebecca Minkoff

The company put much focus on female empowerment through initiatives and campaigns, “RM Superwomen” and “I Am Many,” which included a video series featuring women sharing their inspiring stories on adversity, self-acceptance and more. In September, the designer launched a podcast that puts the spotlight on a collective of female leaders.

80. Jed Stiller, 39, John McPheters, 39, Co-Founders, Stadium Goods

After securing financial backing from European luxury conglomerate LVMH Luxury Ventures in February, Stadium Goods spent much of 2018 broadening its consumer base by teaming up with London-based global fashion e-commerce platform Farfetch and planning a new shop concept inside Nordstrom Men’s Store in New York City.

Key Exec: Yu-Ming Wu

81. Gregg Ribatt, 50, CEO, The Rockport Group

After filing for bankruptcy, Rockport was snapped up by Charlesbank Capital Partners, which named former Crocs CEO Ribatt to the top spot. Under its new parent, the company quickly moved to make another acquisition, buying Reef from VF Corp.

Key Exec: Mike Smith

82. Kanye West, 41, Designer, Yeezy

Not all of West’s headlines in 2018 were favorable, but his shoes still resonated with fans. In addition to limited drops, Adidas delivered his first mass-released shoe, the Yeezy Boost 350 V2 “Triple White.” Also, his teasing of basketball kicks on social media had sneaker addicts yearning for what’s to come.

Key Exec: Jon Wexler

83. George Mersho, 50, CEO, Shoe Palace

In its 25th year, Shoe Palace not only continued to open new stores, the sizable regional chain delivered collaborations designed to celebrate the milestone with leading brands including Nike, Under Armour, Reebok, Adidas and Vans.

84. Paolo Manuzzi, 49, Global GM, Vibram SpA

The company made several recent management moves to shore up its future. Michael Gionfriddo, president and CEO, will retire at year-end, and Fabrizio Gamberini will run the U.S. business. Vibram is also eyeing distribution in Asia, particularly China, while opening a new U.S. sales and design office in Portland, Ore.

85. Ezra Dabah, 65, CEO, Nina Footwear Corp.

Nina’s e-commerce site continued to log sales by reinforcing its focus on the coordination of shoes, handbags and jewelry. The children’s business expanded its department store distribution, while its fashion athletics category grew by double digits. For spring ’19, it will introduce a daytime collection targeting millennials.

Key Execs: Nina Miner, Flori Silverstein

86. Thomas Florsheim Jr., 60, John Florsheim, 55, Chairman & CEO; President & COO, Weyco Group Inc.

Florsheim saw a 20 percent uptick in wholesale sales, driven by updated product and rebranding. Flagship stores opened in India and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as part of a new partnership with Samar Lifestyle. The brand bought out its subsidiary partner in the Australian/Pacific Rim and South Africa regions. Weatherproof brand Bogs added core work looks that helped it diversify from a 4Q-focused business.

Key Execs: Kevin Schiff, Dustin Combs

87. Tim Boyle, 69, President & CEO, Columbia Sportswear

The Portland, Ore.-based firm was on the upswing. For the first half, it netted $1.1 billion in sales, fueled by a $481.6 million performance in Q2. Outside the boardroom, the firm partnered with the Oregon Department of Transportation for a highway litter control project and teamed up with Major League Soccer on an outerwear and apparel collection for 23 of its teams.

Key Execs: Gert Boyle, Joseph Boyle

88. William Dillard, 73, Chairman & CEO, Dillard’s Inc.

Dillard’s continued to find its way amid pressures from consumer shifts, posting a net loss of $2.9 million in Q2. Nevertheless, sales edged up slightly as firms such as Kurt Geiger — which worked with Dillard’s as a key partner for its U.S. relaunch — found viability in its business strategy.

Key Execs: Alex Dillard, Mike Dillard

89. Jack Silvera, 76, Founder & CEO, Dynasty Footwear

Silvera’s family company — parent of Seychelles and BC Footwear — took a stance on sociopolitical issues this year. Seychelles launched a campaign and capsule line that benefits victims of acid attacks in India, while BC received certification as a PETA-approved vegan brand. The firm also continued to grow its private label operation.

Key Execs: Lance Giroux, Sari Ratsula

90. Glenn Barrett, 64, Founder & CEO, Ortholite

Under Barrett, the company opened a new factory in Vietnam, along with a research and design facility in China, accelerating the development of more sustainable products.

91. Karen Murray, 61, CEO, Sequential Brands Group

Major moves came on the shoe front for Sequential as Avia entered new markets in China and South America, while AND1 signed NBA legend Kevin Garnett as creative director and brand ambassador. The billion-dollar Jessica Simpson brand remained solid, while the firm partnered with Jessica Biel for Gaiam.

Key Execs: Karen Castellano, Carolyn D’Angelo, Eddie Esses

92. Marcia Kilgore, 50, Founder, Fitflop

Jumping on the ballet trend, FitFlop launched the Allegro style, featuring an anatomically contoured footbed with arch support and new cushioning technology. Uma Thurman returned for the brand’s fall ’18 campaign.

Key Exec: Michael Lockett

93. Rei Kawakubo, 76, Adrian Joffe, 65, Co-Founder; President, Dover Street Market

Adding to its locations in New York, Tokyo, London, Beijing and Singapore, Dover Street Market will set up shop with an L.A. outpost with “beautiful chaos” as its governing theme. The shop will have one floor of retail space and will include a special section of merchandise in collaboration with photographer Eli Russell Linnetz, who has snapped Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian.

94. Sarah Jessica Parker, 53, Founder & President, SJP Collection

The actress and SJP Collection co-founder (who partners with George Malkemus on the collection) has been one of the industry’s foremost ambassadors and takes a hands-on approach to her business — literally, regularly working the sales floors of her pop-ups and helping clients into her sparkly pumps with the signature grosgrain back. In September, Parker opened her first permanent New York store at South Street Seaport.

Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker
CREDIT: Kagan McLeod

95. Joëlle Grünberg, 47, President & CEO, Lacoste, North and Central America

Under Grünberg’s watch, the 85-year-old French label saw an American revival, thanks to savvy moves like a reworked joint venture with longtime licensee Pentland Brands and new accounts with retailers such as Urban Outfitters. The exec also focused heavily on customizations, collaborations and celebrity endorsements.

Key Execs: Dave Grange, Louise Trotter

96. Peng Cheng, 40, CEO & CFO, Undefeated; CEO, Bait

Under Cheng, both the Bait and Undefeated banners expanded significantly. West Coast-based Bait opened its first door in Hawaii last
month, and Undefeated not only debuted in China (Hong Kong), it also opened 10 locations in Japan, with plans for more.

97. Paul Mason, 58, Chairman, Dr. Martens

The British brand delivered double-digit revenue for the year ended March 2018, with direct-to-consumer channels driving growth. Revenues for the Americas were up 11 percent, coinciding with the opening of three stores in the U.S. Joining the leadership team was Kenny Wilson, who was named to the post of CEO.

Key Execs: Wilson, Leslie Lane, Geert Peeters

98. Rupert Sanderson, 52, Founder & Creative Director, Rupert Sanderson

The British designer’s low-key luxury approach has proved successful, with a devoted following from Kate Middleton. In Asia, Sanderson has rebranded his boutiques (a partnership with franchiser Bertrand Mak) as R. Sanderson, a premium spin-off. In the U.S. and Europe, a new sneaker for fall ’18 is looking to revert from clunky back to streamlined.

Key Exec: Andrew Stewart

99. Andrew Rees, 52, President & CEO, Crocs Inc.

Q2 earnings beat analysts’ estimates, thanks to double-digit e-commerce growth and solid wholesale gains. Crocs’ last factory was closed, with all production moving to third parties. The clog silhouette held its reign in an updated Crocband Platform version.

Key Execs: Anne Mehlman, Michelle Poole

100. Marc Jacobs, 55, Co-Founder & Creative Director, Marc Jacobs International

The fashion world was abuzz after the designer’s September New York Fashion Week show started nearly an hour and a half late, but most attendees agreed it was well worth it. Jacobs showed dramatic ruffles and bows on both shoes and ready-to-wear, and candy colors dominated. The company’s growth prospects were mixed, with some observers speculating that financials were under pressure.

Key Exec: Eric Marechalle

101. Mario Moretti, Polegato, 66, Chairman & Founder, Geox SPA

In a move to bolster sales, the lifestyle brand named former Gucci America exec Matteo Mascazzini CEO to better align marketing, communication, brand and product strategy. Stateside, Geox USA tapped Roberto Perrone as GM. At Milan Fashion Week in September, the brand rolled out a more diverse and fashion-forward collection.

Key Exec: Mascazzini

102. Laurence Dacade, 47, Founder & Designer,  Laurence Dacade

The veteran Parisian designer, who continues to quietly craft blockbuster shoes for Chanel, debuted e-commerce for her eponymous brand in July. To celebrate the launch, Dacade introduced a sneaker capsule that includes styles she collaborated on with her two teenage children.

103. Michael Katz, 67, CEO & President, Matisse Footwear

Katz steered the California firm to a healthy sales bump this year, driven by continued success in the online and direct-to-consumer channels, as well as significant growth among small chains and boutiques. A collaboration with a contemporary apparel brand is on deck for 2019.

Key Execs: Sheena Parks, Tom Ferguson

104. Ulric Jerome, 40, CEO Matches Fashion

Following its sale to Apax, the company reported 293 million pounds ($380 million) in revenues for the year ended Jan. 31. In September, Matches opened a new concept space at London’s 5 Carlos Place: 7,000 square feet and five floors of retail, private shopping, café and broadcast hub. It launched with a Prada takeover complete with exclusive flame-heeled pumps.

Key Execs: Tom and Ruth Chapman, Fiona Greiner

105. Ryan Babenzien, 48, CEO & Co-Founder, Greats

The once online-only lifestyle sneaker label opened its first two stores this year — one in Venice, Calif., and the other in New York’s Soho neighborhood. The brand delivered more must-have looks, most notably its collaboration with Nick Wooster, which was sold at the Nordstrom Men’s Store in NYC.

106. Vincent Wauters, 46, CEO, Hunter Boot Ltd.

The British rainboot maker made a big splash across the pond with its Target collaboration — despite a disappointing production snafu that resulted in the brand’s signature tall wellie style abruptly being nixed from the offering. New styles including the Play Boot and Penny Loafer drove strong sales increases, while category extensions such as bags and apparel cemented the brand’s lifestyle status.

107. Roy Luwolt, 36, Founder & Artistic Director, Malone Souliers by Roy Luwolt

The Malone Souliers cofounder and marketer extraordinaire officially took full reins of the brand after designer Mary Alice Malone stepped down in July. Luwolt continued operating at full-speed on the brand’s expansion, planning for nine new stores in the Middle East in the next few years and collaborating with brands like Roksanda and Emanuel Ungaro (where Luwolt is also global CEO). Luwolt also launched Absence of Paper, a new shirting endeavor.

Roy Luwolt
Roy Luwolt
CREDIT: Kagan McLeod

108. Serena Williams, 37, Athlete & Designer

As one of Nike’s most powerful brand faces, the tennis star proved to be a huge force on and off the court. She has her own Nike collection and also collaborated with Virgil Abloh for his Off-White x Nike “Queen” capsule. Outside of her athletic endeavors, Williams launched her first independent clothing line.

109. Peter Poopat, 45, Flavio Girolami, 46, Co-Founders, Common Projects

The chunky dad shoe may be having its moment in the spotlight, but the design duo behind Common Projects has stayed the course with their sleek Achilles low-tops, inspired by the shapes of everyday objects. While the brand also has a leather hiking  boot, the sneaker remains a mainstay of the global creative class.

110. Takehiro Shiraishi, 60, CEO, Onward Luxury Group

After last year’s acquisition of Charlotte Olympia, the company opened a dedicated showroom for the label in Paris. This month, Shiraishi and team inked a licensing deal with rising Italian shoe star Samuele Failli. Next up is the launch of Onward’s own footwear brand.

Key Execs: Brooks Tietjen, Fabio Ducci

111. Maurice Breton, 65, President, Comfort One

Comfort One checked into new digs in March — a three-story, 10,000-square-foot building in Old Town Alexandria, Va., that was built in 1880. The retailer continued its annual partnership with Hartjes on a special Breast Cancer Awareness Month shoe, as well as educational events on finding the right size.

Key Exec: Garrett Breton

112. Stella McCartney, 47, Founder, Designer & Owner, Stella McCartney

After 17 years with Kering, McCartney proved she’s ready to fly solo. This year, she bought back her namesake label from French luxury conglomerate Kering. The British designer also made headlines for designing Meghan Markle’s reception dress for the royal wedding as well as launching the world’s first vegan Stan Smith sneaker.

113. Robert Shapiro, 53, President, Jimmy Jazz

The Shapiro-led sneaker retail chain invested $30 million into rebranding both its e-commerce and brick-and-mortar experiences and continued to open doors in key cities including New York, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Washington and Atlanta.

114. Laure Heriard-Dubreuil, 41, Founder & CEO, The Webster

The upscale retailer, which counts five stores, revealed plans to open its first location in Los Angeles in 2020 at the reimagined Beverly Center. This year, The Webster was the first boutique to carry Leandra Medine’s collection.

115. James Whitner, 39, Owner, Social Status, A Ma Maniére, A.P.B. and Prosper

The sneaker vet expanded his retail reach with the opening of A Ma Maniére Living in Washington, D.C. The second door under his luxury boutique banner boasts an atypical twist: an upscale hotel experience above the shopping space with local product stories to best accommodate its consumers’ needs during their stay.

116. Francesco Russo, 44, Designer, Francesco Russo

The designer prefers to let his sexy shoes speak for themselves, and this fall, Paris-based Russo made another statement with the debut of his A-Gender line of sexually nonspecific shoes, which include five styles (pump, sandal, loafer, lace-up and Chelsea boot) that are sized from European 35 to 45.

117. Aurora James, 34, Creative Director & Founder, Brother Vellies

James tapped a group of designers to participate in a pop-up with her during New York Fashion Week in February celebrating the Women’s March. She also took part in a “Black Panther”-themed capsule (which included a $12,000 pair of Haitian sisal-haired boots auctioned off to benefit Save the Children), proving she’s a woman of many causes.

Aurora James
Aurora James
CREDIT: Kagan McLeod

118. Derek Curry, 37, Owner, Sneaker Politics

Curry expanded his brick-and-mortar footprint with a pop-up in Austin, Texas, which will be the home of a new permanent location in 2019. Also, he’s preparing to open a second store in the state, this time in Dallas, during the summer. As for collaborations, he dropped a bold Reebok Question remix with rapper Curren$y and a capsule Adidas celebrating the classic movie “The Waterboy.”

119. Ernie Herrman, 57, CEO & President, THE TJX Cos.

Herrman and his team remain in retail’s sweet spot. Banking on the thrill of the find and discount pricing, the firm’s Q2 same-store sales gain of 7 percent eclipsed most of its competitors as Gen Z and millennials flocked to its outposts in droves.

Key Exec: Carol Meyrowitz

120. Karl-Johan Persson, 43, President & CEO, H&M

Profits dipped in Q3 amid a major restructuring, though the company is optimistic that improved sales and new supply-chain efficiency will mark a resurgence. H&M has also partnered with the World Wide Fund for Nature on a sustainable kids’ clothing line.

121. Ryan Goldston, 31, Adam Goldston, 31, Founders, APL

The sneaker disruptors and founders of APL jumped into the sandal business with the TechLoom slide, a rubber style that launched this summer. And the twins celebrated on Oct. 12, APL Day, a citywide holiday that Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti declared for the brand.

122. Michael Muskat, 71, Rick Muskat, 67, Chairman & CEO; President & COO, Deer Stags Concepts Inc.

The Muskats went back to basics, implementing a consumer-first strategy that’s all about listening to their needs. The changes have already reaped a 50 percent bump in digital sales. To maintain the momentum, Deer Stags is planning a brand and packaging refresh, along with a revamp of its fulfillment network to get product out faster.

Key Execs: Mark Higgins, Jake Muskat

123. Nicolò Beretta, 22, Founder & Designer, Giannico

The Milan-based designer has held the designation of powerhouse prodigy since he launched Giannico in 2013, but he just added another title to his CV: creative director of Italian brand L’Autre Chose. His first designs — which will include footwear, handbags and ready-to-wear — will be unveiled in November and carried in stores in March.

124. Giorgia Tordini, 33,  Gilda Ambrosio, 26, Founders & Designers, Attico

The stylists-turned-designers of Attico recently earned backing to help expand their fast-rising fashion brand, which launched in February 2016 (and earned the duo an FN Achievement Award for their footwear debut a year later). In early October, Remo Ruffini’s Archive SRL announced it had acquired a 49 percent stake in the Milan-based brand.

Giorgia Tordini and Gilda Ambrosio
Giorgia Tordini and Gilda Ambrosio.
CREDIT: Kagan McLeod

125. Riccardo Sciutto, 46, CEO, Sergio Rossi

Sciutto pushed the company to the next level. Beyoncé wore custom-made Sergio Rossis on tour, and the brand debuted a new customization program. The Italian luxury label also is expanding in 2019 with an L.A. pop-up shop as well as store openings in New York and London.

126. Edoardo Caovilla, 42, Creative Director & COO, René Caovilla

As the label diversifies the collection beyond core evening looks, René Caovilla also is expanding its store base. After opening its largest store in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, this spring, the brand set up shop in Las Vegas’ Wynn Hotel months later. Next up: a Hong Kong location.

127. Albin Johansson, 30, Max Svärdh, 32, CEO; Designer, Axel Arigato

Purveyors of the minimalist leather sneaker since 2014, Johansson and Svärdh experimented with their own version of the fashion world’s divisive dad shoe this year, incorporating chunky rubber soles — and a higher price point — into the label’s Tech Runner. The duo also debuted a clear PVC sneaker in collaboration with Samsung and a tread-heavy style with Cat Footwear.

128. Danny Wasserman, 72,  Lester Wasserman, 44, CEO, Tip Top Shoes Tip Top Kids; Owner, West NYC

In April, Tip Top Shoes introduced Kizik Footwear, a hands-free brand. West NYC courted customers with in-store activations and community outreach. The family-run retailer started a running club with weekly meetings for varying skill levels. A redesigned website debuted in March.

Key Exec: Margot Wasserman

129. Carol Lim, 42, Umberto Leon, 43, Founders, Opening Ceremony

Vans continues to be an ongoing partner with Opening  Ceremony, regularly dropping exclusives. In March, the brand collaborated with Disney on a collection that celebrated Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday. For spring ’19, Lim and Leon tapped Christina Aguilera to close the Opening Ceremony New York Fashion Week show in September.

130. Jay Gordon, 46, Oliver Mak, 38, Dan Natola, 40, Owners, Bodega

Los Angeles is becoming a sneaker boutique retail hotbed, and Bodega was one of the premier stores to open in the city. In addition to the new door, the retailer’s co-owners delivered stellar collabs (specifically on the Adidas Kamanda and Sobakov silhouettes) and developed an installation with Reebok to open in Shanghai in December.

131. Mike Packer, 49, Owner, Packer Shoes

Fifteen years after opening its Teaneck, N.J., store, Packer Shoes expanded the outpost to three times its original size, now boasting 2,800 square feet. The shop hosted an Adidas 4D experience and collaborated with the brand on its EQT Cushion ’91 shoe, which quickly sold out.

132. Amina Muaddi, 32, Founder & Designer, Amina Muaddi

In August, Muaddi announced the launch of her eponymous label (about a year after departing Oscar Tiye), and retailers responded favorably, with Browns Fashion, Net-a-Porter, FWRD by Elyse Walker and Level Shoes set to carry the collection, which includes 45 styles, all made in Italy’s Parma region.

Amina Muaddi
Amina Muaddi
CREDIT: Kagan McLeod

133. Mike Amiri, 42, Founder & Designer, Amiri

The L.A.-based designer is proof of the power of Instagram. After building up social media with images of his rock ’n’ roll-inspired denim, leather jackets and tees, Amiri in 2015 got a direct message from the men’s buyer at Barneys New York asking for a meeting. Now the brand is on pace for $55 million in sales for 2019, thanks in part to its suede Chelsea boots, which have reached cult status among male musicians and athletes.

134. Alexa Chung, 34, Creative Director, Alexa Chung

After moving back to the U.K., from New York, the designer hosted her first runway show at London Fashion Week in September, which also shifted the brand from see-now, buy-now to a traditional model. The collection paired Chung’s signature quirks, like frilled frocks and overalls, with updates like crystal-embellished jelly sandals paired with ankle socks.

135. Eno Polo, 51, President, Havaianas N.A.

Since taking over Havaianas’ North American division last November, Polo has been laser-focused on the West Coast. In addition to opening a brand store in Marina Del Rey, Calif., he moved the headquarters to L.A., from New York, with 80 percent new team members. Globally, the brand also launched a campaign with Colombian singer Maluma.

136. Alessandro Dell’Acqua, 55, Creative Director, Rochas

The designer has hit his stride both with French luxury house Rochas and his own No. 21 label, where he continues to produce a mix of masculine-meets-sparkly-feminine looks season after season. In October, No. 21 opened a new shop in Seoul, South Korea, its largest flagship in the world.

137. Cesare Casadei, 56, Creative Director, Casadei

The family-owned business turned 60 this year, and there was plenty to celebrate. Casadei’s daughter, Arianna, tied the knot, and her wedding shoes, designed by her father, inspired a new bridal shoe, currently in development. Online revenue grew 57 percent year on year, and Cara Delevingne wore the label’s signature Blade heels to Princess Eugenie’s wedding.

138. Tom Romeo, 54, CEO, Bearpaw

Bearpaw introduced its Wide Widths line, which resonated with customers experiencing limited product availability in the marketplace. National TV campaigns and direct mailers for the website returned a double-digit lift in sales. In June, the label made its first move into multibrand retail with the acquisition of the Flip Flop Shops chain from Cherokee Global Brands.

139. Chloe Gosselin, 34, Designer, Chloe Gosselin

Gosselin’s shoes were on the feet of many A-listers this year, including Reese Witherspoon, Priyanka Chopra and Kerry Washington, but the designer also achieved critical success, taking part in the Vogue Talents Showcase in September during Milan Fashion Week. In November, Gosselin will launch her resort ’19 collection at Le Bon Marché in Paris.

Chloe Gosselin
Chloe Gosselin
CREDIT: Kagan McLeod

140. Ankur Amin, 50, CEO, TGS INC.

The Extra Butter banner secured new brands to reflect today’s elevated consumer, revamped its e-commerce platform and executed story-driven activations (Off-White x Nike, Nigel Sylvester x Jordan Brand) to keep shoppers excited. Meanwhile, Nashville, Tenn.-based newcomer Rooted continued to win over the burgeoning streetwear community with digital content and a premier fashion product assortment.

141Olgana Djanguirov, 45, Founder & Designer, Olgana Paris

The Russian designer may be based in Paris, but West Coast USA clout has Djanguirov planning her first store opening in West Hollywood in early 2019, on Melrose Place. It’s an apt location for L.A.-based fans like Kylie Jenner, who has worn Olgana at least 13 times this year. The label is also launching e-commerce soon.

142. Leandra Medine, 29, Founder & Creative Director, Leandra Medine

The blogger-turned-digital media mogul had a quirky shoe line attached to her beloved Man Repeller brand, collaborating with e-tailers like Net-a-Porter and Martha Louisa for capsules. In September, Medine relaunched the collection under her own name with the aim of separating — and elevating — the still-offbeat but decidedly more elegant offerings from future MR merchandising plans.

143. Sarah Flint, 30, CEO, Founder & Designer, Sarah Flint

The New York-based designer just launched a travel capsule with Cindy Crawford (also an investor in the brand) that includes a combat boot, heeled sandal and flat. Flint is capitalizing on her ubiquity in wearable heels by introducing the “Perfect” series, which debuted with the padded and rubber sole Perfect Pump, already worn by Meghan Markle and Lady Gaga.

144. Erik Fagerlind, 42, Peter Jansson, 46, Owners, Sneakersnstuff

The Sweden-based boutique announced it’s opening a second U.S. door in December, in L.A., a year after its stateside debut in New York City. And SNS is busy preparing to open doors in Tokyo and Seoul, South Korea, in 2019. As for collabs, the retailer turned heads with the reimagination of the Adidas Yung-1, modeled by funk legend George Clinton.

145. Isack Fadlon, 53, Owner Sportie LA

Fadlon focused on partnerships with key brands such as Ccilu and Mephisto, which included a splashy activation in October. But he also cashed in on L.A.’s red-hot sports scene by commissioning Gustavo Zermeno to create a mural outside his Melrose Avenue store for the arrival of NBA superstar LeBron James, which drew more than 1,000 spectators per day.

146. Daniel Kahalani , 42, CEO, DNA Footwear

DNA Footwear targeted eco-conscious consumers by adding sustainable leisurewear brand Softwear to its Williamsburg, Brooklyn, outpost in New York. Spanish brand Verbenas were popular sandals in spring.

147. Giuseppe Santoni, 49, CEO, Santoni

The Italian brand revealed expansion plans focusing on the U.S. market. It continued to collaborate with Italian designer Marco Zanini on a fashion-forward capsule collection.

148. David Astobiza, 40, Danny Astobiza, 37, President; CFO, Sole Desire

For most of 2018, the Astobizas aimed to highlight the store’s exclusive brands with marketing campaigns for labels such as Tribute, Anshea and Biza. Some direct-to-consumer labels have been dropped from its roster. The retailer also focused on digital cross-marketing with online partners.

149. Stefan Kaluzny, 51, Managing Director & Co-Founder, Sycamore Partners

Kaluzny’s heavy-handed retail wheeling and dealing slowed briefly when Nine West Holdings — which had been in his stable since 2014 — filed for bankruptcy in April. But in partnership with GTCR, the firm snapped up retailer and brand network Commerce-Hub Inc. in May and now has $10 billion in assets under management.

150. Josh Luber, 40, CEO & Co-Founder, StockX

The Detroit-based “stock market of things” found a home abroad this year. With $44 million in Series B funding (boasting high-profile backers like Steve Aoki, Karlie Kloss and Don C), the company now has a London authentication center and headquarters, a hub for its planned international expansion.

From athletes and artists to high-power executives and retailers, click through to view the 50 tastemakers who have made an impact on the footwear industry this year.

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