By Kenneth Richard | The Impressionist
Industry icon and designer Vince Camuto passed today at his home in Greenwich, Conn., at the age of 78 due to cancer.
Camuto, known for his namesake designer footwear and accessory business, was an industry pioneer having launched not one but two billion dollar businesses. Along with former business partner, Jerome Fisher, Camuto founded and sold Nine West prior to launching his own label in 2001.
Camuto was a key fixture in the licensee business having built a multibillion-dollar empire consisting of his own brand as well as footwear arrangements with Tory Burch, BCBG Max Azria, Lucky Brand, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor and Dillard’s as well as other retail partners.
Starting at retailer I. Miller at the age of 18, Camuto worked his way up the retail ladder and in 1978 partnered with Fisher to found the Nine West Group. He and Fisher eventually took the company public in 1993 and sold the company for $900 million in 1999 to the Jones Group Inc.
After a two-year non-compete, Camuto launched his namesake brand as well as launching the successful Jessica Simpson brand, which in 2014 had expanded to 32 categories and generated more than $1 billion in sales becoming the aspiration for celebrity brands.
His own labels for the private company, Vince Camuto, VC Signature Vince Camuto and Louise et Cie also generate ~$1 billion in global sales and are sold by major retailers as well as 30 Camuto-owned specialty stores.
Camuto was born and raised in New York City and enjoyed collecting French Impressionist art. He and his wife Louise, 44, the company’s creative director, rebuilt a 20,000-square-foot former convent in Water Mill, N.Y., over a five-year period. Camuto was involved in charities, including St. Jude’s Hospital, the Leukemia Society of America and Ronald McDonald House.
Camuto is survived by his wife and five children.