Gladiators? Gladly!

I was thrilled to be invited to the Sam Edelman event at Nordstrom’s, Short Hills Mall. What girl wouldn’t want to cover a shoe event is beyond me. We arrived a little early, which allowed me time to browse through the Sam Edelman collection. I may have drooled a bit. Customers were all a buzz as they checked out the hot new designs and trends by the famed shoe designer. His designs are incredible. It’s no wonder he is considered one of the best shoe designers of our time.

A few models roamed the women’s shoe section showcasing his famed designs. Servers passed around some delicious vanilla milkshakes, which was a nice little treat. I couldn’t wait to be able to chat with Sam.

Sam was immaculately dressed as you could expect, and nicer than I could ever imagine. Before I chatted with him, he walked around introducing himself to customers, helping them find the perfect shoe for them. He took photos with people and signed customer’s shoe boxes. He opened each box to see what each person selected and commented on each pair. He really made everyone’s purchase personal.

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The Nordstrom’s staff, along with Sam Edelman’s staff and family was ready to answer any questions and help out in any way. Everyone did a wonderful job organizing this event.

I was allowed the opportunity to sit down with Sam and ask a few questions. Sam grew up in New York City with his three sisters. More so, he graduated from Sarah Lawrence College. “I went there as one of 100 men and 900 women, so I practically had 800 sisters at one time or another”. Needless to say, Sam grew up having a lot of female friends.

I asked Sam “Did you always want to be a shoe designer?” He stated “That’s the best question anyone has ever asked me. It should be the first question people ask, but they don’t.  I always grew up knowing I wanted to be in the leather business, or shoe business or something like that, because my parents were in the leather business. Going back to your question about a lot of female friends, my first day at Sarah Lawrence College, I was standing in line to register for classes and this really pretty girl was in front of me and I said ‘what are you registering for’ and she said’ Italian cause I want to be a singer’, she said ‘what are you’, and I said ‘Italian cause I want to be a shoe designer and work in Italy’ and I speak fluent Italian because of that”.

Sam Edelman

As a young man, prior to designing shoes, Sam worked as the Vice President of New Business & Licensing for Candie’s Corporation. He was in charge of all new business activities. He went on to a short stint in the real estate business, but again geared towards shoes. He opened up design centers and sales centers for the shoe industry. He then started Kenneth Cole with Kenneth. It was during that process with Kenneth that he really got immersed in product development. Following that, a man named Doug Tompkins hired Sam as President of footwear for ESPIRIT in 1984. When Sam got to Espirit, Doug told him to hire a designer and while he was thinking about hiring a designer he started designing the shoes himself and has been designing shoes since 1983/1984. The couple founded the Sam & Libby shoe brand which they sold in 1996. About a year and a half ago, Sam Edelman shoes was developed and is now being sold in Nordstrom’s, Macy’s and Zappos.com to name a few.

I asked Sam if he had any plans to eventually expand and include a men’s line. He said “No. Not interested in doing men’s shoes I find men’s customer’s so slow to respond and react where women really understand fashion. That’s not to say young men’s fashion isn’t interesting. It is interesting. I like women’s fashion first and foremost. Maybe in five years my son and I will do something in men’s, but not right now”.

I stated to Sam that his shoes are beautiful and very detailed and asked him where he gets the inspiration for his creative designs. He stated “our inspiration comes from almost anywhere. It can come from the bazaars in Morocco or it could come from vintage jewelry. The truth is inspiration always has to be trend on. Just having an idea when you are working in a field, mountain or reading a magazine isn’t enough. Inspiration has to mix with being trend on, with understanding what’s happening. We specialize in trying to understand the trends and what’s really going on. So I would say, inspiration comes from the streets of Europe and it always comes from fashion”.

Little girls love to wear their mommy’s shoes and in turn, grow up with a love of great shoes. I know I did. I asked Sam why he thinks that’s the case. He says when little girls are born they love shoes. “It’s totally chemical, hormonal, it’s part of what women are all about. So often you put a pink dress down in front of a two year old and the little girl goes crazy. She has to have it! Nobody taught her that pink dresses are a good thing; it’s something that comes out of the sky. I’m a big believer in that. I know a lot about horses and I know that one out of three little girls dreams of having a pony and there is no reason, it just happens. It’s just hormonal. It’s part of being a girl”.

Sam was a delight to speak with and after speaking with him; I was introduced to his beautiful wife Libby Edelman, who was more than thrilled to chat with me about her new line, cleverly called, Libby Edelman.
Sam and Libby worked together for 30 years, and are about to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. Their life has always focused around shoes and have always worked creatively together “although he really is the shoe designer for Sam Edelman” she stated. It just sort of came about that they were going to design a second line and would utilize the name and Libby jumped right on it. “I’ve never really done it full on until now”.

Libby Edelman’s line is available on HSN, in Lord & Taylor and some independent stores across the United States. They are currently working on selling Nordstrom’s, Dillard’s and a number of others.

I asked her how her shoe line differs from Sam’s. She said “we shop together and use the same inspiration, but mine are more affordable, they are half the price. We are gearing it towards a different customer”.  One of the questions I had for Sam was what would he say to someone who might not be able to afford his shoes, I guess he’d say go buy my wife’s shoes. Libby went on to say “we have some shoes under the Sam Edelman label that start at $49 retail and go to $150”. Sam Edelman was started 6 years ago to really be an affordable priced shoe. “We were starting the company and looking at magazines and they were showing inexpensive clothing with high and low kind of stuff and the shoes were $700-900 and we said that’s crazy. No one’s doing great fashion trend shoes that are $100 or less so that’s where Sam Edelman started” Libby said.

I asked her “why do you think women love shoes so much?  Men always pick on us for it because we take up the whole closet, but they have their tools and gadgets”. Libby motioned to my husband Nicholas and asked if he was my husband. I said absolutely and she said “here’s a piece of advice and Sam would say the same thing, it’s much cheaper to let her buy shoes than to get a divorce”.  She went on to say, “as much as we try to explain why women love shoes, part of it is you can gain weight or lose weight but you will still have the same shoe size. You can brighten up your wardrobe with just one pair of shoes. You don’t have to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe. If you’re depressed you buy a pair of shoes. When you’re happy you buy a pair of shoes. When you get married you buy a pair of shoes. It’s all about striking that emotional chord in a woman when designing shoes”.  Isn’t that the truth!

“I’m guessing your shoe closet is bigger than Sam’s” I said with a wink and a smile. Libby responded “it probably is. Although he has great shoes. His shoes may look very simple, but they are fantastic. I don’t have as many shoes as people would think, because we are designers and we are always a year ahead so we’ve moved on so we have to have some shoes to wear but we’re always thinking about the future. I donate my old shoes and move on to the new shoes. I have more evening shoes than day shoes. I keep my evening shoes, because you don’t wear them as often”.

I asked Libby what she thinks is the biggest style trend for shoes this season. She talked about a lot of organic things, such as, stones and metallic’s.  And of course, a lot of bling. “Anything that’s very different whether its stones or bling, a lot of gladiators. We have a lot of beading. A lot of wedges which goes forward to next year, lots of cork details lots of espadrilles. Those are things that are very strong now and get even stronger” she stated with enthusiasm.

After chatting with Libby, my husband Nicholas was dying to know what shoes Sam wears. Sam was wearing grey leather loafers by Alexander McQueen. Who he feels was one of the top designers ever. We asked Sam what men’s designer he recommended; he said John Varvatos makes great men’s shoes.  

Before we headed out, I was able to chat briefly with Erika King, Women’s Shoe Manager of Nordstrom’s Short Hills Mall. “How would you describe the collection as it relates to shoe trends for Spring/Summer and what do you see as a potential best seller” I asked. Erika replied “Sam Edelman always hits the trends. Right now spring and summer is big on embellishments. Gladiators are always really big and nude is also a really good trend for spring & summer”. We both agreed that Sam’s collection is really hitting these trends well. She stated the gladiators are big sellers and whenever they get Sam Edelman shoes in, they sell out right away.  I can understand why. His shoes are magnificent. Erika mentioned that Nordstrom’s has been carrying Sam Edelman for many years. They carried his designs since they were Sam & Libby years ago. I asked Erika if she had a personal favorite in the collection. She said that she loves all shoes, but tends to gravitate towards the gladiator style. Regarding Sam Edelman she said “I really love his embellishments and textures. I love all of them”.

My husband and I walked around a bit more and I decided to try on the super cute Daria gladiators, in nude, which has a bit of a wedge and a back zipper. They fit really well and you can tell they are well made shoes. My feet felt extremely secure in the shoes. I debated if I should purchase them or not, but being that the hubs and I are both unemployed, thought we should wait a bit for the splurge.

Daria

We grabbed a bite to eat and walked back through Nordstrom’s and I’m glad I waited on the Daria’s because I then spotted them in charcoal grey and decided I liked those better than the nude ones because I felt I would wear them more and they would go with more clothes I own. My birthday’s coming up. Who knows! If you’re wondering, I’m a 7 ½.

Daria

Some of my other faves from the line are the Kinley in black leather, said to be the “It wedge of the season” and I also liked the Quinly a totally cute suede open toe sling back.

Kinley on Model

Kinley paired with trouser socks

Quinly

Nick really liked the Hudson “a signature gladiator sandal with embellished front and back zipper”.

Hudson

I saw many people purchasing the Quebec, a suede open toe shootie with zipper mania, in a bright teal.

Quebec

It’s definitely a show stopper of a shoe. Or a toe stopper? Ok, a bit cheesy. It’s one hot shoe. Unfortunately I’m not that daring or balanced enough to be able to pull it off well. I need to be a bit closer to the ground. Thank goodness gladiators are one of the top trends of the seasons.

Rachael Zoe even named Sam Edelman’s Portia boot one of her Top Picks on Piperlime. His style is feminine, trendy and sexy. All of his shoes are detailed to perfection. Remember the movie “What Women Want” with Mel Gibson? Sam Edelman could have made this movie, since he knows exactly that.

Thank you Sam Edelman for making flats sexy and mile high heels affordable. You rock!

Make sure you follow these shoe mavens on Twitter!

http://www.twitter.com/samedelmanshoes
http://www.twitter.com/libbyedelman

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