Learn About the History and Many Styles of Steve Madden

Steve Madden began his career in footwear in 1990, selling shoes out of the trunk of his car with only $1,100 in his pocket. He quickly became known for his signature shoe silhouettes, such as white platform sneakers, slinky black sandals (now being re-released in collaboration with Urban Outfitters), platform Mary Janes, and those early 2000s “big head” ads.

Even though Madden’s life has been scrutinized by the public (a character in the 2013 drama The Wolf of Wall Street was based on him), that he served time in prison, and that he was the subject of his Netflix documentary, Maddman: The Steve Madden Story, in 2017, his business remains profitable and relevant after 30 years.

So, let’s look at Steve Madden’s history and many styles. You can also check out other designers such as the history and many styles of Vera Wang.

History and Life

a Steve Madden shop located in Beijing with customers coming in and people passing by

Madden was a native of Long Island, New York, the son of a textile maker and a housewife. He was born in New York City’s Queens borough and grew up in Nassau County’s Five Towns district. He obtained a job in a shoe store while still in high school and fell in love with the industry right away.

He moved to New York City after two years of studies at the University of Miami, where he sold footwear for two years. He began to work for L.J. Simone, a wholesale firm, in 1980, where he learned about the manufacturing and marketing of shoes. Following his departure from Simone in 1988, Steve Madden and a partner attempted to develop Souliers, a women’s shoe line for the MCM footwear firm, but the initiative failed.

Steven Madden, Ltd. was created by Madden in 1990. He began by having 500 pairs of shoes built to his design and selling them out of the trunk of his car to New York City-area businesses. The Mary Lou, his first big hit, was a spin-off of the iconic Mary Jane style of women’s shoes.

He started his first retail store in 1993. In the same year, he entrusted his company’s initial public offering of stock to Stratton Oakmont. At this Long Island brokerage firm, Danny Porush, a childhood buddy, worked as a partner.

Stratton Oakmont and its principals continued to deal with Madden as an individual until around 1997, despite his company’s success. After the authorities accused Stratton Oakmont management of various financial misdeeds, numerous people, including Jordan and Porush Belfort, pled guilty and were sentenced to prison.

Concerning his transactions with the firm, the fashion designer was accused of criminal and civil charges in 2000. Steve Madden pled guilty to money laundering and securities fraud the following year and was sentenced to 41 months in jail in 2002, of which he served 31 months.

Despite its founder being imprisoned, Steven Madden, Ltd. continued to operate. Madden stepped down as chairman and CEO but remained as creative and design director, which he held until his resignation in 2005. Following his well-publicized return, the brand continues to diversify its offerings beyond the platforms and chunky-heeled shoes that made it famous.

The company was frequently accused of producing low-cost knockoffs of high-end designs. Fashion houses such as Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, and Balenciaga sued for trade dress infringement. They settled most of the lawsuits out of court.

The Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese, depicted Madden’s connections with Stratton Oakmont.

Steve Madden’s Many Styles: An Empire Revolution


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In the early 1990s, Steve Madden formed a multi-million dollar empire from a red Nissan Sentra trunk. A $1,100 investment has limitless potential. This marks the beginning of Steve Madden’s fashion empire.

Madden was introduced to the footwear industry and the retail revolt while working in sales as a teenager. He liked the variety of shoe types and saw a lot of design possibilities in them.

People, according to him, learn a lot about the field they wish to work in. Get to know your audience and the market you intend to enter as the first of many steps. Madden found himself with $1,100 and a desire to produce many years later.

Madden started looking for business partners, but none shared his idea. He didn’t take long to decide to work on his own.

With the help of a co-stylist and a small group of factory workers, he began to realize his idea over time. New York in the 1990s was a cacophony of lights, rock and roll, and nightclubs. He was motivated to develop designs that blended in with the busy cityscape.

Steve Madden’s Big Head campaign, which debuted in the early 1990s, became an iconic image. His computer renderings, influenced by ’90s music in partnership, were seen in commercials and poster campaigns across the country.


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Madden isn’t quite pleased with social media and the selfie-age we live in when it comes to advertising today. Madden believes that it’s all about being surrounded by smart people. People were more interested in the number of people wearing the brand’s shoes on the street back then because influencers weren’t as popular.

The Madden name has single-handedly revolutionized the fashion business. They could purchase shelf space from their competitors, which Madden thought was fantastic.

When asked about his brand’s plans, Madden stated that he wants to grow the clothing line to match the ethos of the shoes. People want to buy their shoes, so they produce them. It’s the ability to combine art and commerce into a well-oiled machine; trends are their identity.

Madden’s company has an unrivaled ability to be fashionable at all times. The company makes a concerted effort to ensure that its new product launches stand out from the competition while addressing current trends and consumer needs. Steve Madden has a stronger track record than most in anticipating and capitalizing on trends.

Steve and his crew work quickly and aggressively to invent and introduce new products to the market. They know their customers and are fast to reply when they notice them reacting to something new. They have extraordinary speed in both predicting and reacting to events.

Madden’s accomplishment serves as a light of hope for aspiring artists and designers all across the world. According to Madden, it is critical to enjoy what you do to succeed. For him, the process is just as essential as a result; he believes in doing honest work and taking pride in helping people.