Q&A with Steve Madden


Courtesy Lauren Foster

Steve Madden isn’t your typical face of high fashion, let alone footwear. When I met up with him at Nordstrom in Bellevue he was wearing casual clothes, a blue cotton collared shirt with faded jeans and a baseball cap. He looked like someone’s dad, someone from the neighborhood with a bit of a New York accent. And he was as humble in his dress as he was in his demeanor. “Did you ever imagine yourself here, with this much success?” I asked. Madden’s face dropped and he looked me stone cold in the eye. “No. I never did … I actually thought quite the opposite,” he said.

How did you get interested in shoes?

I worked in a shoe store when I was a kid.

Was it always women’s shoes or just shoes in general?

Shoes in general.

What was it about shoes that really sparked your interest?

You know it’s just all I’ve ever done and so that’s sort of how I made my living. It’s been good though, very, very, very good to me.

What’s your best selling shoe?

Right now it’s a military boot called the Troopa.

Why do you think military boots are so huge right now?

Who knows, all these wars we’ve being having? … It’s kind of a feminine/masculine look too.

Is the military boot the “It” boot of the season?

It is, for sure. And it has been and will be for awhile.

For both men and women?

Mainly just women but there are men who are wearing it.

What kind of shoes do you like to wear?

I like to wear that kind of stuff. I’m wearing engineer boots today.

How does one predict footwear trends?

With great difficulty. We work very hard at it, we have a team of people, you know, we have a lot of stores and we’re always looking and seeing and going to Europe. We live in it, we watch it.

How high is too high for a platform?

You know actually they’re still very good. People still like high platforms and you know they’re good, they’re still selling, people still like them.

Did you ever imagine yourself here, with this much success?

No, no I never did. It’s a good question by the way, I don’t know why you asked it but … some people do I suppose. Do you think that’s something kids do today? I noticed that with certain kids, they want to be famous.  Is that something that’s more your generation than mine? … No, I never did, really I didn’t, I actually thought quite the opposite.

is the managing editor at 425 magazine. Email her.
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