9 Great Interviews From the Pages of FN in 2019

Across the footwear and retail industry, 2019 was a challenging year — challenging in the sense that sales pressures escalated due to changes in technology, consumer habits and global trade conflicts, igniting major change throughout the business.

But there were also existential challenges, as leaders grappled with internal issues surrounded diversity and inclusion, and took big risks by weighing in on larger cultural and political topics.

In the midst of this sea change, a number of executives and influencers shared their insights in conversations with FN. Here are a few of our most engaging interviews published during 2019.

Patrik Frisk Under Armour
Patrik Frisk, photographed for FN in February 2019.
CREDIT: Shawn Hubbard

How Kevin Plank’s Right-Hand Man Plans to Turn Around Under Armour

Several months before he was named CEO of Under Armour (replacing founder Kevin Plank), Patrik Frisk sat down with FN managing editor Neil Weilheimer to explain how he was changing things at the athletic company after a string of poor sales and worse headlines. But despite any pressures, the 30-year veteran said he’s playing the long game.

Meek Mill
Meek Mill, shot exclusively for FN in February 2019.
CREDIT: Cam Kirk

Meek Mill on His Incarceration and Why Puma Is Getting Involved in Criminal Justice

Roughly 10 months after being released from prison, rapper Meek Mill spoke with FN’s senior athletic editor, Peter Verry, about his Reform Alliance, an organization he created with Jay-Z and Michael Rubin of the Philadelphia 76ers, to change the criminal justice system. Another key partner in the mix: One German athletic brand that has helped amplify the message.

FDRA’s Matt Priest, photographed for FN in May 2019.
CREDIT: Shawn Hubbard

Matt Priest Talks Tariffs, Finding Shoe Talent and Diversity

With the Trump Administration waging trade wars around the globe, Matt Priest, president and CEO of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, was busier than ever this year representing the interests of the U.S. shoe industry. In May, he caught up with FN senior editor Barbara Schneider-Levy about the terrible impact of tariffs and all the ways FDRA is helping shoe firms prepare for the future.

Holli Rogers
Holli Rogers, CEO of Browns Fashion.
CREDIT: Browns

Browns CEO Holli Rogers on Reinventing Retail

Though Farfetch has taken its share of criticism this year from investors, the company’s Browns Fashion division has been on a growth streak under the leadership of CEO Holli Rogers. Shortly after adding the title of chief fashion officer at Farfetch to her duties, Rogers spoke with FN’s European editor, Stephanie Hirschmiller, about her approach to leadership and how the #MeToo movement has changed business.

Donna Karan Kenneth Cole
Donna Karan and Kenneth Cole, shot exclusively for FN in July 2019.
CREDIT: Amanda Demme

Donna Karan & Kenneth Cole on Their Storied Careers and Shared Passion for Philanthropy

Their friendship spans decades and so do their personal commitments to charity and activism. But in 2019, designers Donna Karan and Kenneth Cole combined their philanthropic efforts in Haiti by collaborating on an artisan shoe collection to aid the communities. In a candid conversation with FN women’s editor Nikara Johns, they opened up about their past endeavors and what it’s been like working together.

David Bensadoun Aldo
Aldo’s David Bensadoun.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

Inside Aldo’s Major Plan to Be a Leader in Sustainability

From becoming carbon neutral to doing away with plastic bags in its stores, the Aldo company this year took a lead role in defining what it means to be a modern, eco-friendly fashion organization. FN executive editor Katie Abel visited the firm’s Montreal headquarters in August and sat down with CEO David Bensadoun to find out how it’s possible to go green and keep raking in the green.

Foot Locker president and CEO Dick Johnson
Foot Locker president and CEO Dick Johnson, shot exclusively for FN in August 2019.
CREDIT: Joshua Scott

Dick Johnson Gets Candid on Diversity, Tariffs and What Market Watchers Get Wrong

While many shoe chains have struggled in recent years amid the so-called retail apocalypse, Foot Locker has been a bright spot — at least until recently when it has fallen short of market expectations. So in August, CEO Dick Johnson opened up his playbook to FN senior athletic editor Peter Verry to explain his long-term vision for the company, which overseas expansion but with a local flavor.

James Whitner Melody Ehsani Frank Cooke
(L to R): James Whitner, Melody Ehsani and Frank Cooke.
CREDIT: Courtesy images/Shutterstock

Diversity & Inclusion in the Sneaker Industry: What’s Working and the Difficult Road Ahead

Throughout the year, athletic brands were forced to face their inadequacies on the diversity and inclusion fronts, sparking tough but crucial conversations throughout the industry. To highlight some of the key issues, FN gathered three thought leaders from the sneaker world, inviting them to take on D&I head on. See what retailer James Whitner and shoe designers Melody Ehsani and Frank Cooke had to say.

Jamie Chung, 42 gold shoes, footwear news, photo shoot, fn
Jamie Chung, photographed exclusively for FN in January 2019.
CREDIT: Derek Wood

Jamie Chung on Being Asian-American in Entertainment and Influencing With a Purpose

When Chinese Laundry set out to launch its elevated shoe collection 42 Gold for spring ’19, it found a willing muse in actress and mega influencer Jamie Chung. Ahead of the line debut, the multihyphenate star spoke with FN women’s editor Nikara Johns about the “nerve-wracking” process of creating something new and how she’s using her platform to inspire other women and take on important issues.

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