Vince Camuto has built a fashion empire through his creative inspiration, love of people and focus on licensing.
With the Camuto Group’s track record of success internationally and new growth initiatives in place, fashion icon Vince Camuto shows no signs of scaling back on what has been an illustrious career filled with many accolades and accomplishments.
As founder and chief executive officer of Camuto Group, this fashion legend continues to lead his Greenwich, Conn.-based company with savvy style, hands-on involvement and an entrepreneurial spirit that has defined his career and persona.
From a retail perspective, Camuto’s style and philosophy is reminiscent of the legendary Sam Walton, the people-friendly merchant who founded Walmart. Like Walton, Camuto believes in hiring the best people, maintaining the highest level of integrity and talking to customers in his stores. And they both share the commitment to deliver value to their customers.
“There are three things that are very important in our business: integrity, integrity and integrity,” says Camuto. “Then you need the visual design and sourcing capability to be successful.”
Another key aspect of Camuto’s leadership style is his commitment to people and supporting a collaborative spirit across each of the different divisions and departments.
“We are very schooled at picking the right people and putting the right teams together,” emphasizes Camuto.
The company mantra states: “The Camuto Group is founded on the principles of integrity and quality, and the people are the company’s core asset. Talent is nurtured and developed and passion is paramount to the company’s success. Empowering the team has enabled Camuto Group to make bold strides in the marketplace while never compromising on principles or quality.”
“There are three things that are very important in our business: integrity, integrity and integrity,” says Camuto. “Then you need the visual design and sourcing capability to be successful.” “There’s no limit to what we can accomplish if we don’t care who gets the credit.” It’s followed by the words “Determination. Passion. Loyalty. Integrity. Love. Pride. Creativity. Perseverance. Inspiration. Honesty.”
Perhaps one of the biggest opportunities of his career came in 2005 when Camuto acquired the master licensing rights for singer/actress Jessica Simpson. Since then, Camuto has built the property into one of the most successful celebrity licensed lifestyle brands in the world that now generates more than $1 billion in retail sales annually.
“We thought Simpson was wholesome, very American and like America’s next door neighbor,” recalls Camuto, who credits Simpson as being a very hard worker who is immersed in the entire development process.
The Jessica Simpson brand now includes more than 30 categories and counting, with several new collections including baby apparel, lifestyle products and homewares set to launch this year, according to Robert. A bridal collection is also being explored, she says.
“Our strategy is to keep it all authentic to Jessica Simpson,” explains Robert. “A family focus is where she is right now and her customer is maturing, which is allowing her to go beyond the previous categories.”
Camuto has explored the possibility of other celebrity licensing initiatives, but remains uncommitted.
“Many celebrities–including eight in last six months–have come to visit us and they all want to be another Jessica,” says Camuto. “But if you do one thing once, you don’t necessarily have to do it again. It would be very difficult to duplicate, and we would have to go upper end and look at what happened to all the other people who tried to do that.”
Camuto Group product is currently in more than 60 countries with plans to expand in South Africa for brands such as Vince Camuto, Jessica Simpson and to add Lucky brand shops-in-shops within Edgars department stores. It will also extend to China through a joint venture with China Ting Group Holdings.
“The retail stores really tell the story and drive the awareness level by putting the brand, such as the world of Jessica Simpson, together,” says Robert.
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Note: This article is dated. It’s first published in 02/01/2014