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Designer Vince Camuto Passes Away at 78

The founder of Nine West and the Camuto Group will be remembered as one of the most ambitious and successful shoe designers of the past century.
Designer Vince Camuto at the Tory Burch show in February. Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

Designer Vince Camuto at the Tory Burch show in February. Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

Footwear designer Vince Camuto died at his home in Greenwich, Conn. on Wednesday at 78 years old. The cause was cancer.

The New York native was very well respected in the fashion industry and launched some of the most successful shoe brands of the past several decades. He started with Nine West, which he founded with Jerome Fischer in 1978, growing the label into a multi-branded footwear company as creative director and CEO. The duo took Nine West public in 1993 and sold it for about $900 million in 1999.

In 2001, Camuto got back in the footwear business and founded the Camuto Group, which started designing and producing exclusive lines before acquiring master licenses, as it did with the Jessica Simpson brand in 2005. In 2014 alone, the Simpson Collection boasted more than $1 billion in sales. In 2006, he started a partnership with Tory Burch, and together they launched a successful footwear collection featuring the "Reva" ballet flat which was ubiquitous by 2013. 

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Camuto also has licenses and partnerships with BCBG Max Azria, Lucky Brand shoes, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor and even more that are not publicized. "We do shoes for just about everyone, I don't know if we're allowed to say, but any better shoe, we're making it," he told the Telegraph in an interview in 2013.

In 2005 Camuto launched his namesake footwear line, Vince Camuto, which now has 30 stores in the U.S. and 62 international stores, according to WWD. "We cater for the modern woman who wants to wear great courts, great pumps that are comfortable and of exceptional quality," he said upon entering the UK market.

Camuto's vision for his company was bold, no matter how much success he achieved. He told WWD in 2014 that he wanted to reach $2 billion in sales within five years.  “[Retire] isn’t in my vocabulary," he told Footwear News in 2013. "As people come up through the company, I can do less…We have teams of great people. The greatest thrill is when you see them grow. That’s the greatest accomplishment.”