An Industry Legend
|Shoe executive Vince Camuto, who died of cancer yesterday at the age of 78, will go down in history as one of the industry’s greatest brand builders and executives. The co-founder of Nine West and, more recently, the force behind Camuto Group (makers of Vince Camuto, Jessica Simpson, Tory Burch, BCBG Max Azria and Lucky Brand, among others) was renowned for his business acumen, eye for style, design talent, philanthropy and having a sixth sense for knowing what women wanted when it came to shoes.
In a Q&A feature with Footwear Plus (Dec. ’07), Camuto told the story of how his first paying job was working in a shoe boutique on New York’s Fifth Avenue. He quickly worked his way from the stockroom to the sales floor, where he learned at the fitting stool the footwear needs, wants and cravings of countless women. Camuto noted, with a gentle laugh, “My first paying job was listening to women’s complaints.” His passion for making and selling women’s footwear had been lit.
Camuto became an industry legend (two times over), but his ego always remained in check. Polite and unassuming, in that interview he described his success at Nine West as a “pretty good run.” He was quick to credit those around him for their collective success. When asked what was his greatest industry achievement, Camuto responded, “Helping a lot of people. Those in our factories, who are very dear to me, because they trusted us, and our customers, who are very dear to me, too, because they believed in us.”
Camuto genuinely loved his work and for that the shoe industry and the millions of women around the world who adored his creations will sorely miss him.