VINCE CAMUTO IS THE FOUNDER & CEO OF CAMUTO GROUP, an organization which provides design, sourcing, marketing and production services to over 5,400 department and independent retailers worldwide. Camuto is the owner of the Vince Camuto brand, holds the master license for the Jessica Simpson Collection, and oversees the design direction for multiple footwear licenses including BCBG and Lucky Brand. Before being at the helm of his eponymous brand, Camuto was recognized for co-founding Nine West Inc. and establishing the company as an internationally recognized, leading women’s fashion group.
Camuto was born in New York City. At age 17, he began his career in the footwear industry, accepting a position in customer service at I. Miller, a luxury shoe store in Manhattan; this role became the foundation of his vast technical knowledge and, as he excelled at l. Miller, gave him direct insight into the demands and desires of the consumer.
In his early 20s, Camuto was introduced to the CEO of a major national retailer. Soon after, he moved his family to Miami to become the company’s Fashion Merchandiser and eventually rose to District Manager of approximately 15 stores at the age of 23. Camuto created engaging window treatments for the retail stores and began sketching shoes, staying aware of trends, and further deepening his knowledge of consumer interests and the fashion business.
Camuto then moved to Boston and worked with the founder and CEO of Sudbury Shoe Co. Then 26 years old, Camuto was tasked with the rehabilitation of a shoe factory and designed, produced and sold the footwear. Camuto single-handedly transformed a company that was losing over $2 million dollars a year into a profit center. In 1969, Camuto developed an association with The Bank of Sumitomo, based in Japan. He collaborated with the team in Japan to win a production contract with a major factory, styling the shoes for the American market. The shoes sold well at retail and the partnership transformed the footwear offerings at major retailers throughout the country.
Camuto then partnered with Sumitomo as an independent contractor to develop the Brazilian footwear and production for America. In the early 1970s, Camuto made the acquaintance of Jerome Fisher, a contractor of Sumitomo. Camuto and Fisher went into business together, positioned as the ideal blend of Japanese financing, Italian design and Brazilian manufacturing. In 1978, Camuto and Fisher established their offices at 9 West 57th street, which became the namesake for their brand Nine West. Camuto served as founder and Creative Director for the company and, over two decades, grew Nine West to be a globally recognized brand that revolutionized fashion-forward footwear for women at a reasonable price. Camuto was appointed CEO and the company went public in 1993. In 1997, Roger Williams University bestowed upon Camuto an Honorary Doctorate of Management in recognition of his outstanding work as a businessman building the global brand, Nine West. In 1999, the multi-branded footwear powerhouse was sold to Jones Apparel Group with sales estimated at over $2 billion dollars annually.
Camuto developed Camuto Group in 2001 shortly after leaving Nine West. Under the Camuto Group, Camuto launched exclusive footwear brands for the department store chain Dillard’s including Antonio Melani, Gianni Bini, Nurture and Michelle D and expanded into seven brands in later years. In 2002, Camuto Group acquired the footwear licenses for BCBG Max Azria and BCBGeneration.
In 2005, Camuto launched his eponymous footwear line under Camuto Group. Today, the namesake brand offers 30 categories of sportswear and lifestyle including dresses, handbags, jewelry, swimwear and fragrance. Also in 2005, Camuto Group acquired the master license for the Jessica Simpson Brand and built the line into a billion-dollar business in 7 years.
Camuto Group partnered with Tory Burch in 2006 to launch her footwear collection and collaborated with her to create the iconic “Reva” Ballet Flat. Camuto Group then announced key partnerships in 2008 with Sanctuary Clothing as well as signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Lucky Brand Jeans.
In spring 2012, Vince Camuto launched VC Signature, a collection of accessible luxury in exquisite, classic shoes and handbags. Camuto also announced an exclusive distribution partnership with retailer Kurt Geiger across the UK, Germany and Ireland beginning in the holiday season of 2012.
Camuto Group has partnered with the Council Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) as the first ever footwear Business Service Network (BSN) Corporate Affiliate Member in 2008, helping to mentor CFDA members and aiding them in creating strategic alliances with high profile businesses. Camuto was then inducted as a member in 2012. Vince Camuto is also the recipient of the 2012 “Visionary” ACE Award.
Vince Camuto is an avid believer in philanthropy, concentrating his efforts on charities that benefit children and families, including Ronald McDonald House, St. Jude’s Hospital, Leukemia Society of America and The Domestic Abuse Awareness Foundation. Additionally, he supports breast cancer research through FFANY Shoes on Sale and serves on the board of Wish-And-A-Smile.
Camuto has five children and lives with his wife Louise Camuto, the Creative Director of Vince Camuto, and his son in Connecticut.