Steve Madden acquires direct-to-consumer sneaker upstart

Steve Madden’s new acquisition comes with Italian flair.

Steve Madden Ltd. said Monday that it has acquired Greats, a fast-growing, digitally native footwear brand specializing in premium sneakers made in Italy. Founded in 2014, Greats sells the majority of its products through its website and a solo brick-and-mortar location, a flagship in Manhattan’s SoHo district. It also has a wholesale deal with Nordstrom.

Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed. Greats had net sales in the 12 months ended June 30, 2019, of approximately $13 million.

“We see significant opportunity to expand the business by combining Greats’ strengths – which include an outstanding brand and stylish, classic designs that appeal to today’s more casual consumer – with our proven business model, established infrastructure and global reach,” said Edward Rosenfeld, chairman and CEO of Steve Madden, which operates 224 stores and whose wholesale distribution includes department stores, specialty stores, luxury retailers, national chains and mass merchants. It also licenses certain of its brands to third parties.

“Steve is a true maverick and is one of the people I look up to in the footwear industry,” said Ryan Babenzein, founder and CEO of Greats. “He's created a multibillion-dollar footwear business from nothing and there are less than a handful of people in the world who have done that. Getting the chance to collaborate with and learn from Steve and the rest of the Madden Company to accelerate my business is something that made a ton of sense to me.”