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Designer Sam Edelman on Finding the Perfect Muse in Supermodel Naomi Campbell

Sam Edelman is looking to attract a new consumer with help from iconic model Naomi Campbell, who stars in the brand’s fall ’22 ad campaign.

Here, the designer talks about his latest major marketing push and what’s next for the brand.

You’ve tapped supermodel Naomi Campbell for your fall ’22 campaign. How is this year with Campbell different for the brand from past years?

“Sam Edelman has come out of the pandemic with the best product in its 18-year history. We have elevated our logo, materials, packaging and digital presence — everything that touches our consumer. Now, it’s time to elevate our brand image. We thought about many different women we could feature in our marketing campaign. Then, we all realized there’s one great supermodel who embodies everything that we dream of. Not only is Naomi Campbell one of the most beautiful women in the world, she’s also a mother, she’s a philanthropist, she’s a trailblazer and she’s a successful businesswoman. There is this wonderful element of surprise to see Naomi Campbell with Sam Edelman. And we believe it is going to introduce us to people who may not already know about our brand.”

With the rise of digital, does traditional marketing still fit in your overall strategy?

“We do believe in digital. Just last night, [my wife], Libby, asked me, ‘How many hours have you been on TikTok?’ And I had to admit it was the whole night. I’ve become a TikTok addict. But I’m also traditionalist. I believe that even with the tremendous importance of digital, there is such an important place for fashion magazines. All these things together tell our story. A big part of that is in the mix [of digital and traditional] and I believe we’ve told an incredible story this season.”

E-commerce has been a big revenue stream for the brand. To what do you attribute this?

“It is through the roof. In our quarterly earnings, we announced that the Sam Edelman revenue for our digital business is up 60% year over year. How do I explain it? Well, two things: The pandemic kept a lot of people at home, and simply put, there is a tremendous trend toward digital shopping. But I also think that with the drop of our catalog, our incredible team and all the creative marketing that we have done, we tell our story in a way that really speaks to our customer.”

In terms of footwear, what are you betting on for spring ’23?

“I’m betting on the Gigi. It has always been my big bet — it’s our legendary shoe. It screams aspirational luxury, and I think this will be No. 1 next spring. I also believe in white sneakers. We have the best white sneaker in the industry with our Ethyl, and they cost half of many other brands out
there. I also still believe in dress shoes, and right now we’ve become the leader for dress shoes in the contemporary market. Our customer wants to go out and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”

With all the talk about a recession, how is the company staying nimble?

“With a parent company like Caleres, we have an ability to do things, and take risks, that others cannot. At Sam Edelman, we run one of the most sophisticated replenishment programs in the industry. We have 12 different shoes that are on replenishment in sizes 4 to 14, and in many cases, come in two widths. This inventory position not only makes us nimble, but it gives us stability. It allows us to serve our customer throughout the entire year and leaves us prepared as the world shifts and throws challenges our way.”

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