Steve Madden History Case Study- How It Started

Steve Madden History Case Study- How It Started

Competing in today’s market and the economy’s status is quite complicated because of many competitors. There’s also the issue of changing customer needs and behavior and the evolving market. One company that continues to thrive in the shoe design sector is Steve Madden. Steve Madden founded the company with only $1100 and a car filled with shoes. However, the company is one of the most influential brands in the footwear industry today. Steve Madden is an industry disruptor that’s one of the companies that pioneered fast fashion in the industry. Steve Madden History shows how the brand became a household name and bolstered its place in the market. This article provides insight into the company’s history and how it evolved over the years.

How it Began

Steve Madden is an American shoe designer who’s the founder of Steve Madden Ltd. Additionally. Additionally, this company manufactures moderately priced shoes and accessories. Its target audience is young women and girls. However, Steve Madden didn’t just come to be. Madden is the son of a housewife and a textile manufacturer. He is a native of New York’s Long Island. His first connection to the shoe industry was in high school when he got a job in a shoe store. After that, Madden developed an interest in the footwear business. 

Once he finished high school, he started attending the University of Miami, but after two years, his father pulled him out of school, and he got a job as a salesman near his home. Two years later, he moved over to a New York wholesaler known as L.J. Simone Footwear. While he was there, Madden started designing shoes ideal for the teenage market. Some of them were penny loafers and white fringe boots. 

After a decade of designing with L.J. Simone, Madden negotiated a deal with M.C.S Footwear. With this new company, he developed, created, and marketed the ‘Souliers’ line of shoes for women. The company put his name on the shoes, and he got 10% of the profit. In 1990, he decided to strike out on his own, and he started by renting an office in the Long Island City Neighborhood. With $1000 to his name and a single employee, Madden began borrowing money from his friends. Madden manufactured his designs and sold them to trendy Manhanttan Stores. These shoes attracted clothing designers like Jill Stuart and Betsey Johnson, who used these shoes in their shoes.

Steve Madden History – The Growth

Steve Madden began to enjoy sales, and by 1993, he moved his office to Lower Broadway in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. The company operated a retail store from this spot and had 13 employees. Steve Madden’s footwear like sandals, clogs, and boots was manufactured in New York City, Brazil, and Mexico and then sold in footwear specialty stores and department stores. The Steve Madden company decided to go public in 1993 and made over $5.6 million in proceeds. Revenues for the company continued to rise, but the development cost resulted in losses. Therefore, Steve Madden moved its headquarters to Long Island City in 1994. He acquired Malboro Leather, a marketer of the finished leather to shoes, accessories, and apparel manufacturers. 

Steve Madden History: Taking Giant Strides

Steve Madden acquired Adesso Shoes in 1995, and it became a subsidiary serving as a buying agent for the manufacturing abroad and importation of private level shoes to the United States. Sales were as high as $38 million that year and continued to rise when it acquired the David Aaron brand. By 1997 Madden shoes, including zebra print loafers, chunky four-inch heels, leopard print platforms, and even satin prom night shoes, were quite the hit. Young women like the first daughter Chelsea Clinton and Jenny McCarthy wore Steve Madden’s shoes. In addition, his headquarter included a facility that turned out samples.

The samples were at a rate of 10-15 weekly for his young designers to test in the four stores owned by the company. He then shipped each successful design abroad for mass production and distribution. 

In addition to shoes, Steve Madden stores also sold takeout tees and cotton t-shirts packed in takeout food containers in addition to shoes. These containers often contained a picture of a porn actress on the lid. In 1997, Steve Madden signed a licensing agreement for sunglasses, handbags, jewelry, outerwear, and hosiery. By November, He chose Winer Industries to be the licensee for the new sportswear and jeans. The stores continued to grow until there were 17 stores available, including Los Angeles and Miami stores. The company kept doing greet throughout 1998-1999, and net income doubled. In 1999, the company started selling Jordache footwear under a license to girls aged 10-16. By the end of 1999, Steve Madden’s licensed products included hair accessory products, belts, and even intimate apparel.

The public offering of Steve Madden’s shares was made through Stratton Oakmont, which is a Long-Island based investment house that helped to raise capital for start-ups. One of the investment bank owners was Danny Porush, an old friend of Madden. Others were Kenny Greene and Jordan Belfort. In return for a $100,000 loan, Madden agreed to give 40% of the company’s stock to Stratton Oakmont. However, this investment bank had a reputation for not complying with security laws.

Steve Madden Expansion

In 2000, Steve Madden announced the creation of the new Stevies footwear brand. The target audience for this new footwear brand was girls aged 12-16. The brand, which features styles that were variations of Steve Madden’s design, was sold in department and specialty stores. The focus of the brand was to develop Steve Madden and Stevies Shoes. The line of shoes included evening shoes, boots, sandals, sneakers, slippers, and casual and tailored shoes. The shoes designed were aimed to appeal to girls and young women aged 16-25. The shoes are sold from $48-$70. The David Aaron line focused on women aged 26-45, and the retail price was $70-$85. 

By the middle of 2000, Steve Madden had over 50 stores in more than 15 States. Each store offered women a nightclub-type of atmosphere, and retail sales accounted for 30% of the company’s total sales. The rest came from marketing the brand to major department stores. 

Although he was arrested in 2000 due to his ties with Stratton Oakmont, Steve Madden did his time in prison. As a result, the company experienced a terrible meltdown as stock prices fell significantly. However, Steve Madden emerged with new ideas for the company and a better perspective on life. 

Steve Madden Key to Success

Most people have walked across Steve Madden stores but do not know Steve Madden History. Although there was a documentary that addressed how he built his billion-dollar company step by step, below are a few lessons we learned from the brand. Instead, our lessons capture the designer’s early days and his rise to success.

Passion is the Key to Creating a Business

With only $1,100 to start with, Steve Madden launched his company in 1990. He started the company selling shoes from his car trunks. However, this perseverance brought in over $38 million in sales within a couple of years. By the end of 2000, there were over 50 Steve Madden stores, and sales were skyrocketing. Celebrities also wore Steve Madden shoes. Today, Steve Madden has over 300 retail locations in 75 countries worldwide. The founder’s passion for shoes led him to start the business and stay determined to make it work.

Understanding Your Customers

Steve Madden was quite a success from the beginning because it recognized an untapped consumer base and utilized it. Steve Madden realized those young women couldn’t afford the high-end luxury available but was disappointed at the styles and quality of the cheaper option. Madden took time to observe the target audience and create a customer persona so he could serve them better. He recognized that girls wanted to be cool, edgy, and sophisticated. Therefore, Steve Madden’s shoes filled this void, leading to massive sales for the company. 

A Unique Perspective

Steve Madden’s doll ads featured sultry dolls with giant heads, long necks, tiny waists, and large feet. This was an example of what 2000 fashion was becoming. However, this ad was quite different from the traditional campaigns shared by his competitors. This difference made the Steve Madden ads a hit, and the company enjoyed great sales. This company’s cultural footprint continued to expand until it inspired the Bratz dolls’ creation. These doll ads are one of the most memorable fashion campaigns of the decade.

Inspiration is Everywhere

Steve Madden became an inspiration for new fashion trends beyond recent fashion trends. Steve Madden drew inspiration and ideas from every part of the world around him. Most of Steve Madden’s shoe inspiration came from music, art, painting, and other things around him. For example, the stardust inspired the popular Mary Lou shoes in the stardust era. 

Finding a Bigger Purpose

Steve Madden’s impact as a designer transformed many people’s lives even while in prison. He reportedly taught many inmates business classes and hired several of them to work at his company after his release. The company also supports several organizations. This move also increased sales for the brand as young consumers today are looking for a brand that cares about the environment and social justice. In addition, giving back attracts many loyal customers looking for companies that represent their value. By prioritizing social accountability, Steve Madden can position his company in the positive limelight for years.

Final thoughts

Steve Madden history is a clear indicator that businesses can survive even at the worst point. Steve Madden kept up despite the setbacks during the prison years, resulting in satisfaction as the years passed by. In addition, his unique perspective and ability to understand the consumer’s needs have helped increase sales for the Steve Madden brand, making it one of the top shoe companies in the footwear industry.

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Steve Madden History Case Study- How It Started Steve Madden history explains the company’s journey and difficulties to become a pioneer in today's footwear industry.
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