If you’re obsessed with wearing unique and fashionable shoes, you’ve probably heard the name Steve Madden.
It’s one of the most popular shoe brands worldwide for its wide variety of styles and designs, and its high quality.
So, is Steve Madden a luxury brand? Some people swear by its luxury status, while others are not sure, given its affordable prices and slightly lower quality than top-of-the-line products.
The word luxury means something that people don’t need but desire anyway. High-end prices, exclusive styles and often celebrity endorsement characterize a luxury brand.
Let’s see if Steve Madden’s shoes can fit the definition of luxury.
What Is Luxury?
Luxury products are rare, non-essential and expensive. They are prestigious and offer hedonic and symbolic values to their users.
Luxury is defined by the perception of the products to their consumers and their exchange values instead of the products’ real value or quality.
Some brands only make some of their goods available to the masses. Only a lucky group of selected people can get access to most of their products (think of some limited Ferrari editions).
The main features that help a brand become a luxury include rarity, exclusivity and authenticity.
From the quality of material and craftsmanship to their design and popularity, luxury products generally have a higher market value than common mass-produced goods.
Also, most of these brands have a long history and tradition to be passed from generation to generation with proven quality and luxury.
Their authenticity is linked to the glorious past, and many of their products are often cherished for that heritage.
The stories of these brands are always reflected in their marketing and business strategies.
So, consumers know that the brands’ popularity isn’t just a fad, but is connected to a well-established legacy.
Does Steve Madden Have the Characteristics of Luxury Brands?
So, now that we know what defines luxury, we can expand on those criteria to see if Steve Madden is a luxurious brand.
Businessman Steve Madden founded the brand in Manhattan in 1990. The young man had only $1,100 to invest in the new company.
It went public in 1993, and made a massive $5.6 million. He moved the business to Long Island City one year later due to increased development costs.
The company launched another brand called Stevie’s in 2000, targeting 12-16-year-old girls.
It improved the product designs at that time and sold shoes in department stores.
After 2005, the company started to expand its shoe store by adding products to up to 50 department stores across the United States.
It has more than 220 retail stores and eight online stores worldwide. According to 2021 GlobalNewswire, Steve Madden’s net worth is $1.9 billion.
However, the brand is not as old as other luxurious brands like Louis Vuitton.
Steve Madden has been in business for a few decades, unlike Louis Vuitton, which is over 160 years old and has a $14 billion net worth.
Is Steve Madden a luxury brand when it comes to exclusivity? We don’t think so because their products are as readily available as Michael Kors, DKNY and Coach.
You can get them anywhere you want, both offline and online, because inventory is not limited.
While luxury brands like Stuart Weitzman only have 31 stores in the US, Steve Madden has over 220 stores.
Steve Madden’s shoe collection does not have a restricted distribution like other luxury brands, so it’s not exclusive.
Steve Madden’s merchandise is not rare or exclusive. The company manufactures large numbers of its products and distributes them widely through department stores, Shoemart chains and its own retail stores and website.
Some of its products cost more than others, but the overall pricing targets the mass market instead of the luxury market.
Also, luxury brands usually have a limited target market. But Steve Madden sells its products in many countries like China, Australia and others.
When a luxury brand associates itself with celebrities and models, it creates an air of exclusivity and sophistication.
This allows the brand to charge a premium price for its products. Additionally, this association can help the brand reach a wider audience and build brand awareness.
Celebrity endorsements also create an aspirational image for the brand. Consumers who cannot afford the luxury brand’s products may still feel a sense of connection to the brand by seeing it associated with people they admire.
It can help build brand loyalty among people who may one day be able to purchase the luxury brand’s products.
Look at the endorsement lineup of top luxury brands like Louis Vuitton. You will see names such as Emma Chamberlain, Jennifer Connelly, Deepika Padukone and Julia Roberts.
Steve Madden’s target demographic is different from these brands. So, it has associations with celebrities like Sara Cummings, Chiara Ferragni, Halsey and more.
You can compare it to Kate Spade and its ties with stars like Anna Kendrick and Sadie Sink.
Is Steve Madden a luxury brand because of the price? What is a luxury price?
Price is one of the criteria used to define luxury brands.
The luxury shoe brand Stuart Weitzman’s average cost per product is $400 to $800, and the most expensive pair, Rita Hayworth heels, is a whopping $3 million.
The average cost of Steve Madden’s moderately priced shoes is $70, handbags are less than $100, and the average price for men’s shoes is $80.
The price is similar to other mid-range luxury brands like Michael Kors and Kate Spade.
Here are Steve Madden’s lowest and highest-priced products:
Brune Bone Bags
The BRUNE is a crossbody bag defined by bold hardware, from the curb chain strap to the pyramid-shaped turn lock.
The structured silhouette has just the right edge, while the Bone hue keeps it versatile.
Complete your on-the-go look with this must-have bag.
This bag is priced at $39.99, making it the lowest-priced Steve Madden product.
Lasso-S Black Boots
A Western boot is a requirement for any wardrobe, and we’re obsessed with LASSO.
This knee-high pair features whipstitching detail and an all-over geometric stud pattern.
The stacked heel and point toe add the perfect finishing touch to this stylish boot.
A pair comes with a $250+ price tag and is the most expensive Steve Madden brand shoe.
These prices are quite low compared to even mid-range products of some luxury brands.
Luxury Brands as an Investment
The resale value of products is essential because luxury brands typically have high resale values, which means that people are willing to pay a premium for a secondhand product.
It is because these brands are seen as having a higher quality and being more exclusive than other brands.
Also, high resale values indicate the perceived value of the brand. It means that consumers believe that the brand is worth a lot of money.
Such beliefs make the brand more desirable and prestigious, which are vital characteristics of luxury brands.
Steve Madden shoes and other products have a lower resale value than top-grade luxury brands.
You will get approximately half of what you paid for the new product.
Visit Poshmark and other similar websites that sell used shoes, accessories and clothing.
You will see that luxury brand products, like Gucci and Louis Vuitton, are worth about 90% of their original price.
Quality of Make and Materials
Luxury shoe brands like Gucci, Prada and Bulgari use high-quality materials that create their products’ distinct textures and styles.
They often use leather, gold hardware and crocodile leather in their shoes and handbags.
Most of their products are manufactured in the USA, France and Italy.
Steve Madden uses materials of inferior quality, making it questionable whether the brand is luxury.
The leather used in its products isn’t high-quality, mostly a hybrid of finely combed leather and patent leather, and the shoes are mass-produced in factories outside the United States.
Approximately 90% of Steve Madden’s shoes are made in China. In 2021, the company moved many factories from China to Vietnam, Mexico, Brazil and Cambodia.
But 60% of its shoes are still made in China.
Design Aesthetic, Creativity, Sophistication
Is Steve Madden a luxury brand based on the aesthetic value of its products?
All established luxury brands have some iconic products. For example, everyone will remember Cartier for its tank watch, Louis Vuitton for the “Neverfull” bag and Van Cleef & Arpels for the Alhambra collection.
Unfortunately, Steve Madden does not have any such iconic products in its name.
Its shoes, bags, handbags and fashion accessories are all standard, everyday styles.
They need to be more unique and creative, and there is no high-end feel.
In 2021, Steve Madden started a campaign named Let’s Get Real. It’s a revolutionary strategy centered on the company’s attitude to climate change, inclusion, diversity, disposal management, and its commitment to change as a business.
In addition, the brand is committed to stopping toxic chemicals in its factories.
It requires each supplier to provide documentation that the factories comply with that policy.
The company has pledged not to sell shoes made in non-compliant factories and has stopped doing business with them.
Unfortunately, Steve Madden’s service standards are inferior to those of a luxury brand.
Customers complain that they often don’t reply to emails, and their phone number is sometimes unreachable to speak with a customer representative.
All high-end luxury brands offer excellent customer service, and Steve Madden lacks in this aspect.
However, its delivery service is exceptional, with a 3-business day delivery window.
You can’t deny that Steve Madden is a good brand, and part of its success in the shoe industry is based on the design of fashionable shoes and boots that people love.
But is Steve Madden a luxury brand?
After analyzing the brand against luxury parameters, it’s clear that Steve Madden is not a luxury brand.
The price range for its products is much lower than most luxury brands, and it lacks exclusivity, design aesthetic and high-quality products.
So, it’ll be accurate to label it as an affordable, mid-range luxury brand.
FAQs about Steve Madden
What is Steve Madden famous for?
Steve Madden is a designer brand famous for its fashionable and quality shoe collection.
But it also produces bags and other accessories.
What brands are under Steve Madden?
The other brands that make up the Madden Group are Mad Love, BB Dakota, GREATS, Blondo, Betsey Johnson and Dolce Vita.
Is Steve Madden a billionaire?
Mr. Steve Madden, the designer of Steve Madden shoes, is not a billionaire.
Steve Madden’s net worth is estimated at $300 million.