While many boutiques and smaller chains closed shop, these store owners keep customers coming back with collaborations, exclusive products and exceptional service.
Below, FN recognizes the independents.
See who else made the FN Power List 2019:
• The Dramatic Makeover
• The Independents
• The Tastemakers
• The Dynasties
• On the Rise
• The Guiding Forces
• The Conversation Starters
• The Design Stars
• The Retail Innovators
• The Shoe Dogs
• The Business Titans
• The Influentials
Ankur Amin, 51
CEO, TGS Holdings
With his Extra Butter and Rooted banners performing at a high level — on pace for 30% and 25% growth over 2018, respectively — Amin launched the “global citizen”-focused Crusoe & Sons store format in July. Next year, he plans to expand the TGS footprint and open another Extra Butter door.
David Astobiza, 41, President
Danny Astobiza, 38, CFO
In 2019, the Astobizas made consumer engagement key to success as sales of athleisure styles increased by 20% during the year. Sole Desire is preparing to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2020. And its handcrafted Biza footwear brand, which launched four years ago, has been picked up by 100 retailers for next season.
Watch on FN
Maurice Breton, 66
President, Comfort One Shoes
Breton and son Garrett purchased the building housing its location in the historic Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., for $5 million. Supporting its chain of 17 stores, it updated its e-commerce presence, its third-largest platform. Its trio of exclusive European brands continues to be a growing segment of the business.
Peng Cheng, 41
Owner, Bait; CEO, Undefeated
While Undefeated and Bait collabs kept social media talking, Cheng was working on plans to expand the footprint for both banners. Expect to see Bait enter Japan with stores in Tokyo and Osaka — its first doors outside the U.S. — and more Undefeated locations in Japan soon.
Derek Curry, 38
Owner, Sneaker Politics
Curry expanded his location count to seven this year, opening the latest Sneaker Politics door in buzzy Deep Ellum district of Dallas. The store owner also leveraged New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson’s popularity with an activation alongside Jordan Brand in its local storefront.
Isack Fadlon, 54
Co-Owner, Sportie LA
The retailer is collaborating with Birkenstock on a line using materials not yet seen on the brand’s shoes. For the second year, the company collaborated with Ccilu to gift Los Angeles public school teachers a pair of shoes. The company will open a pop-up store for the Star Wars x SwitFish collection in December.
Erik Fagerlind, 43, Co-Founder & Co-CEO
Peter Jansson, 47, Co-Founder
The duo expanded their physical footprint this year, opening their sixth store in Los Angeles and a bar in New York City. They aren’t finished because a Tokyo door is scheduled to debut before year’s end.
Ronnie Fieg, 37
Founder, Creative Director & CEO, Kith
Fieg made Kith an even more powerful — and relevant — footwear and apparel player in 2019, fueled by compelling collaborative collections with Versace and Coca-Cola. His fourth New York Fashion Week show, dubbed Kith Air, also had the fashion world talking. Looking ahead, Fieg is preparing the opening of Kith’s anticipated Paris flagship.
Jay Gordon, 48; Oliver Mak, 40; and Dan Natola, 43
Founding Partners, Bodega LLC
After opening a store in Los Angeles in 2018, Bodega delivered several sought-after projects with New Balance and focused on e-commerce. Next year, the team will further bolster Bodega’s efforts digitally. The retailer will also launch a pop-up for Art Basel Miami Beach in December.
Laure Heriard Dubreuil, 42
Founder & Creative Director, The Webster
Dubreuil’s luxury concept store turned 10 in 2019. During New York Fashion Week, the multi-brand retailer hosted a Night of Sustainability, highlighting the efforts of brands the shop carries. Dubreuil is also focused on more sustainable practices within The Webster’s six locations. The fashion retailer explored new territories this year as well, entering the home space with The Webster Home.
Rei Kawakubo, 77, Co-Founder & Creative Director
Adrian Joffe, 66, President
Dover Street Market
Dover Street Market opened two new outposts since this time last year. In November 2018, a Los Angeles location joined shops in New York, Tokyo, London, Singapore and Beijing. The concept chain opened its first dedicated beauty branch in Paris this October.
John McPheters, 40, and Jed Stiller, 40
Co-Founders & Co-CEOs, Stadium Goods
After being acquired by Farfetch in January for $250 million, Stadium Goods — in conjunction with Sotheby’s — auctioned in July 100 of the rarest sneakers in history, which were acquired for over $1.28 million by Miles Nadal. The label followed up with a Fred Segal partnership last month, taking over a section for installations and access to product.
George Mersho, 51
CEO, Shoe Palace
The sizable regional chain capitalized on big moments in pop culture and sports. Its subsidiary, Nice Kicks, teamed up with Adidas on a Woodstock-inspired UltraBoost sneaker. Shoe Palace also debuted a pop-up shop with New Balance to celebrate its latest drop with basketball star Kawhi Leonard.
Mike Packer, 50
Owner, Packer Shoes
The store owner expanded the physical footprint of his door in Teaneck, N.J., this year, which is now three times the size of the original space. For 2019, Packer will shift the focus from brick-and-mortar to digital and invest in his e-commerce business.
Robert Shapiro, 54
President, Jimmy Jazz
The New York-based retailer celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2019. Among its activations, Jimmy Jazz hosted a back-to-school event for children in the Bronx with Puma and rapper A Boogie wit da Hoodie.
Lester Wasserman, 45, CEO
Danny Wasserman, 73, President
Tip Top Shoes & Tip Top Kids
To capitalize on its growing online business, the Wassermans hired an e-commerce manager and secured additional warehouse space. European brands with limited U.S. distribution were added to the adult offering. The children’s business continues to grow,
Key Exec: Margot Wasserman
James Whitner, 40
Owner & Founder, The Whitaker Group
Whitner owns a total of 20 stores under several boutique banners including Social Status, A.P.B. and Prosper, but this year his boldest move was with A Ma Maniére. In October, the store owner launched A Ma Maniére Eats, a retail-meets-dining concept, in Houston.