Stuart Weitzman’s father already owned a shoe factory. The son became a shoe designer. Weitzman is now 80 years old and has sold his company – but still an infinite number of ideas.
Pop diva Beyoncé has “danced a thousand miles in his beautiful shoes”, First Lady Jill Biden called with the word “Vote” on his boots to vote – and stars like Duchess Meghan and tennis professional Serena Williams also wear shoes by Stuart Weitzman.
The US designer, who will turn 80 on Thursday (July 29th), has become the favourite foot decorator of many stars in his decades-long career.
Like father, like son
Shoes are by no means “silly accessories”, Weitzman once said at honour in the New York Historical Society. “There are shoes that enter a room in front of a woman and only leave after her – they can make such a great impression.” For him, shoes are his “gold medals”.
The passion seems innate: Weitzman’s father already owned a shoe factory in the US state of Massachusetts, and his two sons took over the company. Stuart Weitzman was still studying economics and was considering going to Wall Street – but even then he was drawing shoe designs over and over again. “I then said to my brother that I would like to try it out as a designer for a year. Maybe I would like it.”
Weitzman named his first pair of high heels “Eve”. “I’ve always tried very hard with the names of my shoes because – I don’t want to say they are like my children, but yes: The shoes are like my children.” The probationary period led to a decade-long career in which Weitzman finally became chief designer and managing director of the company that was then named after him.
Dreams and ideas – fulfil and create
The combination of business knowledge and design talent led to success: Weitzman decided against men’s shoes because of the significantly lower demand and bought his factories in order to be able to produce more cheaply and implement trends more quickly. He fitted his high heels with padding to make them more comfortable.
Weitzman also used clever marketing tricks. In 2002, for example, he let actress Laura Harring walk the red carpet at the Academy Awards in so-called “million-dollar shoes” – and suddenly everyone was only talking about the diamond-studded shoes. Since then, the Weitzman models have been playing in the same league as those by star designers such as Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin and Sergio Rossi – but are usually much cheaper.
With the money he earned, Weitzman fulfilled the craziest dreams of his childhood passion for collecting. “At that time I started to fill albums with everything I could find. I had an album for world-famous international brands and at the top of the page was a big empty space for the British Guiana,” the designer once told the “New.” York Times “- shortly after he bought that stamp for the record price of $ 9.5 million. “It took me back to my childhood.”
Rarities and collections for a good cause
Weitzman recently re-auctioned the “British Guiana” and other rare stamps and coins. “All my life I had the dream of collecting the greatest rarities in the two great collectors’ worlds of postage stamps and coins and then making these extraordinary treasures hidden for decades available to the public. I wanted to do that and I did that. That was my dream. Today my dream is to donate something to a good cause and I will use the proceeds from these sales for that. ”
The designer has kept his collection of historical shoes, which began with a birthday present from his wife and has already been shown in an exhibition at the New York Historical Society. “Shoes do so much more than cover your feet,” said Weitzman at the exhibition opening. “Shoes tell stories.”
Weitzman, who has two daughters with his wife Jane, has since sold his company and is slowly withdrawing from everyday design work. “I’ve worked 350 days a year for 16 hours a day for the past 40 years. When I started thinking about retirement, I wondered how I could fill the day. Then I started making a list of things I’d like to do. ” These include table tennis tournaments, founding museums and producing musicals.
But Weitzman will probably never get rid of the design either. “Designing a product and then seeing how women love it – that got me involved. Right from the start, I found it unbelievable