It seems like only yesterday we were watching Jonah Hill as Donnie Azoff in Wolf of Wall Street, faded off of God knows how many ludes, slurring the name "Stee-ve Mad-den" through his blinding, white chompers. The name rendered inherently paramount in the box-office hit maintains its relevance within the world of fashion accessories now more than ever.
For more than two decades, Steve Madden has not only delighted in making trendy, affordable shoes for both men and women, but has unequivocally spawned an empire in his name. He's kind of a big deal, so when word got out the Madden maven would be visiting Pembroke Pines Mall, people lost their shit.
The traffic getting off north I-75 was indefinitely the southeast version of Carmageddon. Strangely, all the cars getting off the freeway were headed in the same direction, convening in the Dillard's parking lot of the Pembroke Pines money-sucker. Parking was a massive bitch.
Enter Dillard's, and the sight of winding lines awash with women and children, teens, and gays overwhelmed the premise. Julissa Bermudez, former MTV VJ and star of the Style Network's Empire Girls: Julissa and Adrienne, hosted the event. After some 30 minutes, he arrived.
The winding lines quickly discombobulated into a thunderous storm of flashing smart phones and peeping heads. The man, now in his early fifties and still wearing his signature baseball cap, handled the chaos of signing Wolf of Wall Street posters, Steve Madden shopping bags, and the bottom of his footwear calmly.
But before the hectic chaos of posing with fans and autographs, Steve sat down with Cultist for an interview. Observe as footwear mogul swiftly mutates into Miami historian and expert inquisitor.
Cultist: First of all, top dog of footwear --
Steve Madden: You think so?
The first pair of shoes that meant something to me was yours. I would consider that "top-dog" status.
That said, how do you maintain such a successful business after all these years? What's your secret recipe?
Yeah, that's it.
In what sense?
I never think we're good enough. I'm always trying to be better.
Love that. So, when are you going to launch a Miami-inspired collection?
Miami's so prominent in my past. I went to University of Miami. South Florida is sort of a second home to me. Our best stores are in Miami. So, everything is kind of Miami-inspired.
You always find a way to rep Miami somehow.
Yeah. Where do you shop? Do you shop at Merrick Park?
I shop at Merrick sometimes. I shop a lot online, though. Saw loads of leopard in this season's collection.
You know what, we always do leopard.
Do you think leopard has evolved into a staple?
I think it has. Sometimes I'm like, "Ugh, don't make another shoe in leopard." But people like it.
Leopard's like the new black, huh?
I think so. People like it. They do. Nobody goes to Miracle Mile anymore?
Yeah, people do. The stores there are a little pricey. It's wedding gown central there.
You know what I'm talking about, right? Miracle Mile in Coral Gables. You know what I mean?
Yeah, why? You don't have a store there. I mean, do you? Wait; do you guys have a secret store there?
No, but a long time ago that was "the street." Before you were born. Are there shoe stores there?
Not really. Like I said, it's wedding gown central. It has a lot of boutique restaurants, too.
Yeah? How's the Biltmore?
The Biltmore is still the Biltmore -- just as gorgeous as ever.
Okay, just so you know, when I was in college, the Biltmore was an abandoned building. Rats and newspapers blowing through the lobby.
You think it's haunted?
When I was there, it was abandoned -- an abandoned building. It was that same building, you know, with that beautiful design. The golf course was open; it was a public golf course. It was just really weird. They had a pro shop and a little diner, and it smelled. It was abandoned. It was just spooky. It was a very glamorous hotel in the 1930s and '40s, and then they abandoned it.
Wait, we have to talk -
Have you ever been to the Venetian? The pools?
The Venetian Pools. No, I haven't yet. You also did a collaboration with Chiara (Ferragni) of the Blonde Salad. Elaborate.
It was good. She's cool. She's from Italy. She's got a big following. It's (the collaboration) been very successful, and she's a delight to work with.
What's your shoe motto?
I always say "progress, not perfection." Do better. You're never going to be perfect, as long as you're moving the needle forward. It's a good thing -- in life, work, and art -- in everything.
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And of course, the most obvious question: What's next for you?
We're going to be doing some comfort shoes. Not Steve Madden, another division.