Remember the Steve Madden campaigns in the ’90s where leggy girls with miniscule waists and platform sneakers stared back from the pages of nearly every fashion magazine? Well, in fashion, everything old is new again.
This season, as the business hits a milestone 25th birthday, Madden draws inspiration from that beginning. One of the largest exhibitors at last week’s bi-annual MAGIC trade show, Madden showcased a collection filled with those ’90s throwbacks.
“I never imagined this kind of success,” Madden says. “I thought I’d pay my rent and have a nice little company.”
What he built instead was a footwear empire that has crossed over into a celebrity-driven brand with countless collaborations over the years, including the most recent with rapper Ja Rule. Every shoe in their men’s Maven x Madden collection is accessorized with a metallic handcuff. “We feel responsible to make cool shoes,” Madden says.
The shoe king’s favorite pairs for women are the Troopa boot, which debuted in 2010, and the Werkit sandal. Of all the brand’s products over the years, he says the most iconic is the Bubba sneaker from the ’90s. (The modern-day iteration is known as the Buhba.)
“You look back [on the last 25 years], but you don’t stare. You just keep moving forward,” Madden says.