Liz Rodbell, former president of Lord & Taylor, has joined footwear designer Steve Madden as group president of retail, accessories and licensing.
It’s a new position at Steve Madden, which designs and markets footwear and accessories for women, men and children.
Rodbell, a 32-year veteran of Lord & Taylor, left the store in April. Madden marks her first venture into the wholesale side of the fashion industry. “Learning something new and different through the lens of a company that’s been so successful and bringing my expertise and skills to it excites me the most,” Rodbell told WWD.
“This new role, where I will be overseeing retail, accessories and licensing, is being created to strengthen our focus on growth initiatives outside of shoes where we see a significant opportunity in accessories and licensing,” said Rodbell, whose first day on the job is today. “By pulling together accessories and licensing, we will be taking a holistic view on brand-building to advance the business. In addition, the role will allow us to grow and improve the direct-to-consumer business, with a strong focus on e-commerce initiatives.”
On the brick-and-mortar side, there are 202 Steve Madden stores. The largest, at about 2,000 square feet, opened last year in New York’s Times Square, and a store opened last week in the Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey.
Madden began his business in 1990 with a $1,100 investment. Inspired by rock ‘n’ roll, New York City culture and daring styles, Madden grew the business into one of the world’s most recognizable footwear brands. Last year, the company generated $1.55 billion in revenues and $118 million in net profit.
Rodbell served as Lord & Taylor’s president since 2014 and was the third of only four women to have led the retailer since it was founded 190 years ago as the nation’s first department store. The others were Dorothy Shaver, from 1945 to 1959; Jane Elfers, 2000 to 2008, and Vanessa LeFebvre, who succeeded Rodbell.
Rodbell presided over Lord & Taylor during downtrends, management integrations and streamlinings, but she grew L&T’s e-commerce business, including putting a Lord & Taylor store on walmart.com and implementing some omnichannel services like buy-online-pick-up-in-store orders, and staging events tied to social media and targeting Millennials to offset L&T’s reputation as being “grandma’s” store. She also strengthened categories where Lord & Taylor historically did best, such as dresses and footwear.
From 2014 to June 2017, Rodbell was simultaneously president of L&T and Hudson’s Bay in Canada, after earlier serving as executive vice president and chief merchant of both businesses. Rodbell began her retail career in the executive training program at Abraham & Straus, which was absorbed by Macy’s in the early Nineties, and joined L&T as a dress buyer.
Rodbell called Madden “one of the most innovative and fashion-forward companies in the industry,” while Steve Madden, the founder, creative and design chief, said Rodbell has been “a longtime friend and supporter of the Steve Madden brand.”
“Her passion for product makes her a great fit for our organization,” added Edward Rosenfeld, chairman and chief executive officer of Steve Madden.
Steve Madden designs, sources and markets fashion-forward footwear and accessories for women, men and children. Aside from footwear, the range includes handbags, belts, cold-weather accessories, small leather goods and fashion accessories such as scarves. Madden’s own brand labels include Steve Madden, Dolce Vita, Betsey Johnson, Blondo, Report, Brian Atwood, Cejon, Mad Love and Big Buddha.
Madden is also a licensee of various brands including Kate Spade, Superga and Anne Klein. In addition, Madden designs and sources products under private labels for various retailers and licenses some of its brands to third parties for ready-to-wear, outerwear, intimate apparel, eyewear, hosiery, jewelry, fragrance, luggage and bedding and bath products.