It was announced last night that legendary shoe and retail giant Vince Camuto passed away last night following a battle with cancer. The designer and entrepreneur, who built his impressive business from the ground up, started his career as a founder for Nine West in 1978. Twenty years later, he and business partner Jerome Fisher sold the business for nearly $900 million to Jones Group, Inc.
It was after establishing the privately owned Camuto Group in 2001 that his success would skyrocket in another direction. In addition to creating an eponymous line of clothing, accessories, and fragrances, Camuto also had a stake in growing Tory Burch’s incredible footwear business (those Reva flats were a turning point for the designer), and still holds the shoe license for BCBG Max Azria. His biggest coup, though, was partnering with Jessica Simpson.
Last year alone, the Jessica Simpson brand rang up over $1 billion in sales across 32 categories. Simpson herself is devastated by the loss of her mentor. After all, the pair has spent the past 10 years building a formidable business together.
And while it is certainly nice to have a winning business, there is also a familial aspect to their collaboration. Camuto has always prided himself on being a family man—his wife Louise (a former Miss Sweden) is also his business partner and creative director of Louise et Cie another brand under the Camuto umbrella organization—and Simpson has grown her own business with her sister and mother. “My business is my family,” she told WWD last year. “My sister Ashlee works with us on the line, and I’ve built the collection alongside my mother, Tina. She’s been an inspiration my entire life.”
Around midnight she posted a photo of herself with Vince and Louise on her Instagram that stated, “Thank you, Vince, for the humble power that has taken me everywhere. You are my mentor, my family, the creator of all my dreams. I will forever walk in your shoes…you made them. #brokenheart”