posted by: freePOrnaoa in General on December 13th, 2009
I attended a very interesting, charming, star-studded event last week. The stars of the shoe world gathered at the Four Seasons in New York for Footwear News 2009 Achievement Awards, toasting the end of a difficult year that proved footwear’s movers and shakers will weather the economic storm.
Not only did I meet designer stars (and brands themselves) like Giuseppe Zanotti, Georgina Chapman and Steve Madden, but I also got to hear from Footwear News representatives themselves. The awards honored the brands that continue to succeed and move units in this tough economy, as well as today’s design and sales upstarts who are shaking conventional sheets.
Here are the winners of the Footwear News 2009 Achievement Awards. Photos are by Alicia J. Crall.
DESIGNER OF THE YEAR: Giuseppe Zanotti (at left, pictured with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and Zanotti devotee Ashanti). Mr. Zanotti was the charismatic highlight of the night.
COMPANY OF THE YEAR: Steve Madden Ltd. (Steve Madden at the podium, with Footwear News Editor Michael Atmore at left). We all know how trendy his lines are, but how well-priced they also are. No wonder he’s more than weathered the recession.
PERSON OF THE YEAR: Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. Tony spent the majority of his speech, much to audience chuckles, describing how he encouraged a colleague to dial Zappos’ customer service for a pizza recommendation after they had a bender of a night in California, and how Zappos’ customer service, as always, came through with all the pizza places that were open at that time of night in their area. I am somehow not surprised, because we’ve come to expect Zappos to be the gold standard for customer service, though I’d rather know where I can get my non-virtual shoe fix at 5 a.m.
VIVIAN INFANTINO EMERGING TALENT: Alexandre Birman, who was surrounded by his Brazilian friends, told me about growing up apprenticing in his family’s shoemaking factory. I told him about growing up in my parents’ shoe sales and repair stores, and he got a look of recognition on his face. “You too!” he exclaimed.
HALL OF FAME: Manolo Blahnik USA’s George Malkemus, has been Manolo’s business partner for 27 years. Malkemus gave a really funny speech while Manolo accepted honors via video and made us all laugh. I can see why those two would have a lot of camaraderie together; they both have fantastic senses of humor.
HALL OF FAME: Foot Locker’s Matt Serra, who returned Foot Locker to profitability and sent it on an aggressive growth path, acquiring Footaction for $225 million, according to Footwear News.
HALL OF FAME: Equity analyst John Shanley, known to be a brilliant footwear analyst (not pictured).
BRAND OF THE YEAR: Sam Edelman. Sam and Libby Edelman fell in love at a 1979 shoe fair, according to the New York Times. Could there be anything more romantic? This shoeaholic thinks not. Their speech was truly engaging and inspiring. They still love each other and have a unique partnership after 30 years. Their joy in having worked and grown together was so evident. Notice the grand grins below.
RETAILER OF THE YEAR: Kohl’s (not pictured), with its celebrity lines and exclusive products, stayed resilient this year.
E-TAILER OF THE YEAR: GIlt Groupe (not pictured), with its hordes of loyal devotees, “has grown six-fold from 2008, and … could hit $175 million in revenues this year,” according to Footwear News.
LAUNCH OF THE YEAR: Skechers’ Shape-Ups have made a big splash, creating an opportunity to bring in a new brand of consumers who are willing to purchase a toning athletic shoe. Skechers President Michael Greenberg is pictured below.
LAUNCH OF THE YEAR: Tabitha Simmons (not pictured), whose tasteful new line has included “pared-down ankle boots, a thigh-high boot and sculptured wedges in an eye-catching mix of salmon, slate and prune suedes,” according to Footwear News. Another thing we like about her: she will never wear Birkenstocks or Crocs, according to the New York Times. That’s our kinda woman.
LAUNCH OF THE YEAR: Florsheim by Duckie Brown. Designers Steven Cox and Daniel Silver presented classic Florsheim with ideas that shocked them at first, including a “laceless wingtip, studded cap-toe and suede loafer in 10 different colors” for men. Barneys, Saks, Bloomie’s and Nordstrom snapped up the line. Designer Daniel Silver below.
BRAND OF THE YEAR: Sperry Top-Sider, a classic nautical brand, is expanding its market and partnering with J. Crew for its women’s line. Pictured below (left) is Sperry President Craig Reingold.
MARKETER OF THE YEAR: Iconix Brand Group (not pictured) has had a successful year with the Candie’s shoe line featuring Britney Spears.
That’s all, shoe lovers. More party and society photos from the event to follow.
Who will win next year? Those who can survive and even thrive through the recovery from this recession.
Who would you like to see honored next year?