Sam Edelman, Sam Shahid, & Kelly Klein Talk the State of Sam Edelman and latest Campaign with Carolyn Murphy
Sam Edelman would like to get reacquainted. Have the relationship between the footwear designer and his loyal following taken a step back? Not at all—with a wholesale volume exceeding $200 million at top retailers like Nordstrom, Lane Crawford, and Zappos, as well as sixteen global retail locations and a direct-to-consumer e-commerce website, it’s safe to say that business is booming for Sam Edelman and the label has no signs of slowing. However, the best time to push a business forward is when you’re ahead.
The Caleres-owned lifestyle label has recently launched a new ad campaign this spring season that serves as a reintroduction to the brand and is a hallmark for Sam and Libby Edelman’s expertise in the fashion realm.
“The biggest thing for us is that three times in our life, we’ve had the same kind of success. First with Esprit then with Sam and Libby, and now it’s Sam Edelman,” explained Edelman about his namesake fashion brand.
“Sam Edelman eclipsed the others four-fold and I think that’s because we stick to a point of view that’s uniquely our own.”
This point of view and vision bridges the gap between aspiration and attainability to define modern luxury. This aspirational story has also evolved over decades and across three footwear labels, and is now more mature and more confident than ever.
Edelman tapped longtime creative partners Sam Shahid and photographer Kelly Klein to create a “Land of Enchantment” for spring 2018. The campaign stars Carolyn Murphy in a sprawling desert in Palm Springs, with a shiny vintage convertible, a pet dog dubbed “Brutus” by Edelman himself, and a number of Sam Edelman shoe styles.
The model is seen throughout the campaign at a modernist home with a pool, which is certainly a direction from Klein, who joked saying, “I know all the pools in the whole world.” The photographer published two books about pools named Pools by Kelly Klein in 1992 and a return to print version, Pools: Reflections, in 2007.
Carolyn is regarded as the best ‘name face’ for the campaign for her timeless American elegance, which is an attribute that the trio agrees she shares with the designer’s muse, Libby, who is also Edelman’s wife and business partner.
Sam Edelman previously tapped another name face in Kate Upton to front his 2013 campaign, but Murphy brings a different nuance to the label that best represents the brand’s customer, the brand story, and its positioning in 14 years of business. Edelman described “thoroughbred roots” as “something that we’ve always stood for,” and Libby and Carolyn share this attribute as well.
“Carolyn is a professional. She’s easy to photograph, she’s easy to work with, she’s kind, she’s smart, and I thought she would really speak to Sam’s customer and they could relate to her,” explained Klein. “I think the whole thing turned out really beautifully.”
Edelman added, “True elegance is what we need to do to maintain the stability of the brand and to give the brand the legs and the concrete foundation that it needs, and having a supermodel who embodies our vision makes a huge difference.”
Working with trusted comrades also makes a huge difference on a campaign. Klein and Shahid have worked together for several years and with Sam and Libby on multiple occasions, including with Libby at Calvin Klein when she served as the label’s Director of PR. The years of collaboration helped the partners develop a shared vision and shorthand language, ensuring that the story is told effectively and nothing is lost creatively.
“We want to represent Libby, Sam’s muse, and I think we all connect to that and we understand that,” said Shahid. “We’re on the same page together. We know exactly what we’re saying to one another, so it’s not a difficult situation for us.”
“The thing about Kelly is that she knows me and Libby and she knows deep down what our vision is,” added Edelman, “and she’s able to take the lens and tell that story. It’s a very special group.”
Sam, Sam and Kelly hit a homerun with this new campaign and will take it on the road this season with both traditional and digital marketing. Vice President of Visual Nick Boles said that the campaign is going back into print in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle among others, is launching custom content with select partners, and will be supported by billboards in Los Angeles on La Cienega Blvd. and on Sunset by the Chateau Marmont, as well as at the Midtown Tunnel heading into Manhattan from the Hamptons.
The mix of traditional and non-traditional media caters to the savvy, sophisticated woman like Libby, Carolyn, and the Sam Edelman customer.
“Over the last couple of seasons we have done a little bit of testing for our woman to determine where she is at,” explained Boles. “We’ve done all traditional media in the past and we’ve also gone down the other road where we’ve done digital media only, and we’ve found that there are successes in both—we really wanted to blend those efforts together this year.”
The end game is very clear for the Sam Edelman business. The lifestyle label is cementing its brand narrative and story in order to grow exponentially in the coming years. Strengthening its core customer base is essential in attracting new customers. In addition, Edelman sees lifestyle designs as a growth vehicle for the label.
“Our denim business is exploding and we’ve got incredible ideas,” said Edelman. “We’re really establishing ourselves and lifestyle design is our next goal. We’re concentrating on that.”
Edelman added that the label began shipping pastel denim styles in March and it “can’t keep them in the store.” Intimates, Edelman’s first major success in the lifestyle area, is “projecting huge numbers over the next two or three years” and he is currently searching for a strategic partner to build a home category.
The footwear designer is in very familiar territory, having experienced great successes in his career with Esprit and Sam and Libby prior to launching his namesake label. Few active designers have accomplished such a feat. Edelman admits that he takes more control in his current label compared to his previous endeavors, and the new campaign is further proof of that.
With investments in wholesale partner support, internal infrastructure, and marketing, Edelman possesses a winning formula and will not compromise on his brand vision going forward.
“I think the biggest thing that I learned is to totally stick to who you are, what you are, and what you stand for,” Edelman said. “The third time is the charm for sure, but we have taken 40 years of experience and have learned from our mistakes and that’s been our biggest secret.”
Agency | Shahid & Company
Art Director | Sam Shahid
Photographer | Kelly Klein
Model | Carolyn Murphy
Stylist | Sciascia Gambaccini
Hair | Thom Priano
Makeup | Dick Page
Location | Palm Springs