Steve Madden Enters Luxury Market With Brian Atwood Aquisition

The king of high-end designer imitation (we'll call it flattery, right?) is joining the luxury market thanks to a new partnership. WWD reports that in a deal brokered between Brian Atwood and Steve Madden Ltd., Brian Atwood and B. Brian Atwood brands will become a new division of Steve Madden. They'll also premiere a new accessories line in the coming months, so make room in your drawers.

Madden himself shared his excitement over the partnership with WWD:

Brian Atwood is a premier designer and he’s also American, which I love, although everybody gets upset when I say that. When you go to the floors at Barneys, there aren’t many American designers. Brian is a Midwest boy and he’s brilliant. We like that.

For Madden, this partnership is a huge stamp of approval from of one of the shoe market's most notable names — which is important as the brand enters into the luxury sector. “We’re already in contemporary. Now we’re in superluxury as well. We’re excited to be in both businesses,” Madden said.

But hold on a second — the luxury market may not share in the excitement. Knockoffs of Brian Atwood, Alexander McQueen, YSL, and Balmain are the bread and butter of Steve Madden Ltd. An ability to create the look for less has made Steve Madden a go-to for cash-strapped fashionistas — but it's also put a target on the brand's back, making them a hated entity in the fashion world. Exhibit A:

Brian Atwood Drama Pump

Steve Madden Bevv-B Pump

It's interesting that Steve Madden is purchasing a name it has a history of so openly copying. Perhaps Madden's imitations had a hand in Atwood's need to be thrown a lifeline in the first place.


The ultimate prize for the Steve Madden is direct access to the designer’s intellectual property — no more going to well when the water comes to them.

In terms of Steve Madden's entrance into luxury, we'll see if Atwood's influence will make a difference with fellow high-end brands. Will they roll out the red carpet or prepare the gauntlet?