With many iconic footwear brands on everyone’s radar, you might not help but wonder: is Steve Madden a good or a luxury brand? Find out here.
As a brand, Steve Madden has managed to stand the test of time. It’s been around for over 30 years and has loyal customers both in the United States and across the world. While many people like the brand, others have concerns about its quality and price range.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Steve Madden, the brand that has helped revolutionize both the shoe industry and the fashion industry.
The History Of Steve Madden
Shoe designer Steven Madden founded his namesake label in 1990. Although he was still in high school when he started working in a shoe store, Steve took an immediate liking to the footwear business.
After two years of study at the University of Miami, he moved to New York City where he sold shoes for two years before founding Steven Madden Ltd. He started out by having 500 pairs of shoes made with his own creative designs and selling them to New York City-area stores from the trunk of his car.
Today, Steve Madden’s shoes are sold in different department stores and in standalone boutiques across the globe. Nowadays, you can find an extensive collection of Steve Madden pieces in online retailers like Nordstrom, Lulus, and ASOS.
Main Points To Consider
1. Price Range
Most Steve Madden shoes and bags retail for $50-$200, with very, very few pieces going above this price point, making this brand pretty affordable and accessible to most consumers.
For example, most shoes retail for around $100 while some purses cost around $80-$90, and other accessories like wallets and watches are between $30-$45. This is just enough to make you feel like you’ve got a good-quality accessory without breaking the bank.
There arealso frequent markdown sales in both Nordstrom and ASOS, and some pairs of shoes even go below $50 like this pink Gracey Strappy Sandal, currently priced at $37.97 – $48.97. So if you’re on a budget and you want to score some new Steve Madden shoes, now’s the perfect time to head to Nordstrom.
2. Quality & Materials
Steve Madden’s shoes are of decent quality for their price point, and the materials they use seem to be a 50/50 split between leather and synthetic materials.
Leather is definitely the best material for shoes as it’s not only long-lasting but also more comfortable, molding into your feet perfectly. Because of this, we would recommend primarily buying Steve Madden’s leather footwear.
Although more expensive (typically $100-$170), buying leather shoes guarantees that your shoes last the longest time. In addition to this, leather is ultimately better for the environment, as it breaks down in nature, unlike synthetic materials.
With proper care, your Steve Madden leather shoes will last 2 years with daily use. Because synthetic materials aren’t as flexible as leather, they won’t fare as well. To combat this, you can try wearing synthetic boots every other day or so, which should extend their lifespan to a few years.
3. Designer-Inspired Items
It’s no secret that Steve Madden is the best place to head to for designer-inspired shoes and bags. Whenever there’s a new trendy item that goes viral on Instagram or TikTok, you can bet that Steve Madden will soon have a version of it. There are countless examples on the website, with just a few examples above.
While creating these affordable look-alikes is nothing new in the fashion industry and definitely drives a lot of sales for Steve Madden, usually, this kind of copy-cat product design is frowned upon in the industry, and it definitely lessens the creative appeal of the brand.
So, in case you were wondering if Steve Madden is a luxury brand, then this point should answer your question; it’s not. Is it a good-quality, relatively affordable shoe and accessories brand? Yes, definitely.
4. Sustainability Efforts
It’s worth noting that Steve Madden is not considered a luxury shoe brand, but also not a fast-fashion brand.
Like many brands that fall into this category, Steve Madden is actively prioritizing its sustainability efforts.
For example, the brand has a secondhand resale program on its website where you can get your hands on gently-used shoes and accessories at reduced prices. Plus, you can also sell your pre-loved items here as long as they don’t have any significant cosmetic damage.
Furthermore, just recently in 2021, the brand launched its “Cool Planet” line, which features shoes and products made with sustainably-sourced materials.
According to the website, the shoes are for those who believe in a “world where fashion and sustainability live together.”
When you’re buying a pair of shoes from this line, it comes with a highlight of the materials used, as well as an explanation of their production process. According to their website, they also plant a tree with One Tree Planted for every pair of shoes purchased through that collection. One Tree Planted is a non-profit organization that helps restore the planet, one tree at a time.
So, what makes Cool Planet shoes sustainable? Their shoe outsoles are produced with recycled materials like rubber and plastic, as well as their shoelaces. Their materials also include recycled polyester, cotton, and even recycled plastic bottles.
Furthermore, Cool Planet also makes use of a carbon-neutral algae foam, as well as a water-based polyurethane to create less waste and water pollution. Pretty cool, right?
And to top it all off, their shoeboxes are made of 90% post-consumer waste and are recyclable as well.
With all this said, Steve Madden’s sustainability rating on the Good On You directory is still marked as “not good enough,” so it is up to you to make your judgment about whether the brand’s sustainability efforts are genuine.
As we said before, if sustainability is important to you, it’s best to either shop the brand’s Cool Planet range that is made with recycled materials or instead, opt for leather shoes that will break down in nature (apart from the sole, which is often synthetic).
5. BB Dakota
If you’ve been online shopping for the past few years, then you’re probably already familiar with BB Dakota. BB Dakota is a brand that was acquired by Steve Madden just a few years ago in 2019. It is marketed as the sister brand to Steve Madden, and it’s more targeted to young women and girls, most especially Gen Z and millennials.
BB Dakota is a leading contemporary women’s apparel brand known for its original and distinctive collections of clothing, footwear and accessories. The brand has retail stores across the country and sells its products through fashion retailers like Revolve, as well as department stores such as Nordstrom and Macy’s.
This affordable fashion brand also has an extensive selection of denim jeans and trousers, which makes it easy for consumers to find what they need at an affordable price point. Their casual clothing options include sweaters, jackets and tops—all available in different colors with different embellishments (buttons or ruffles) to suit each person’s style preferences.
BB Dakota also sells formal dresses, party dresses, and even blazers and cardigans that you can wear year-round.
6. Size Range
Despite being one of the biggest brands in the industry, BB Dakota’s clothing range is pretty standard without catering that much to a plus-size clientele.
Steve Madden’s shoe collection, on the other hand, has sizes 5 to 11, with half sizes available for the best fit. Unlike other shoe brands that offer both petite and wide-fit shoes, it seems like Steve Madden doesn’t offer them yet. This is not to say that women with wide feet can’t enjoy Steve Madden shoes – in fact, many of them are made with extra room, but it is just not advertised.
If you are worried about the fit, the best practice is to go try the shoes in person at the store nearest to you or ordering half a size up online, just to be safe.
7. Return Policy
Now, how does the return policy work? It really depends on which retailer you’re getting your online orders from.
If you have ordered from the Steve Madden website, they accept returns of unworn merchandise within 30 days of delivery, but this excludes clearance items and final sale pieces – which means that they cannot be exchanged or returned.
You may obtain a return authorization using their Return Center & shipping policy page on their website.
To make it more convenient, you can also do an online store return on Steve Madden stores. The same policy applies – the pieces must be unworn, and handbags, clothing/apparel, and accessories must have their original tags. Plus, the pieces must be in their original packaging before you take them to the store and present your order number or email confirmation after you placed your prior order.
Our Fave Pieces From Steve Madden
You can find great pieces from Steve Madden at a variety of price points and in a wide range of designs and styles that will fit your personal preference.
Below, we rounded up a couple of eye-catching pieces from Steve Madden that we think you’ll like.
Steve Madden is more well-known for their wide range of shoe styles for women, they also offer shoes for men and kids. The shoes are trendy, comfortable, and affordable.
They offer a vast array of shoes that are suitable for all occasions – from casual sneakers to formal pumps, you can fit basically any shoe style here.
These heels are a throwback to the ’90s, but they’re still on-trend.
Steve Madden’s first major success, the Mary Lou, was a twist on the classic Mary Jane shoes. The Mary Lou is no longer offered on major fashion retailers (and it’s quite hard to find one these days), but this ’90s-inspired Mary Jane platform pumps is topped with adjustable straps and raised on a dramatic platform and block heel – truly a throwback to the ’80s, but still very much on trend.
This season, your favorite pair of sandals just got a whole lot more versatile. The Kenley Sandal is a heeled sandal with a chunky woven strap that’s perfect for both casual days and dressy days.
The square toe and towering heel will elevate any look, but you’ll be so comfortable in these beauties that you’ll want to wear them all the time.
These sandals are currently on sale for $48.97, a big markdown from its original price of $130.
The purses are available in a variety of styles and colors, ranging from $25 to $200. You can choose from purses made of vegan leather, suede, and canvas.
They come in styles such as crossbody bags and purses, shoulder bags, satchels (a cross between a purse and backpack), clutches (smaller than the standard handbag but larger than a wallet), and more.
And when you’re looking for that perfect accessory to make your outfit stand out, look no further than the Steve Madden Bnikki Clutch Bag.
This bag is the ultimate accessory for any occasion. With its detachable shoulder strap and magnetic clasp, it’s easy to bring with you anywhere. And with its glossy vinyl fabric and gold-tone logo plaque, it will turn heads everywhere you go.
This bag is perfect on dressy days when you want to wear a cute dress or a blazer. You can also detach the shoulder strap to bring it with you to formal events as a clutch. It’s great for the woman who wants to look like she’s got it all together, but needs a little extra space in her purse.
On the other hand, the BCaviar crossbody bag will be your new best friend. This bag with its fold-over flap top, cross-body strap, and faux leather matte finish will be sure to keep you on trend and looking good, no matter where you are going.
Almost immediately, you will notice how the BCaviar crossbody bag bears similar resemblance to the Yves Saint Laurent Cassandra Calfskin Shoulder Bag, especially with its quilted chevron front flap and the intertwined hardware logo on the center. You’ll want to show it off at every opportunity!
3. Clothes (BB Dakota by Steve Madden)
BB Dakota by Steve Madden has a lot of unique, high-quality designs, as well as being affordable. It also has a decent range of sizes and excellent customer service.
The brand offers clothes that are both on-trend and timeless. The collection includes graphic tees, jumpsuits, skirts, dresses and jackets to name some of the products available offered by this clothing brand.
The Calabasas Queen Tiered Button Front Midi Dress by from BB Dakota is a floral fantasy that will have you looking and feeling like a princess. The intricate detail of the blooms is paired with elbow-length sleeves and a flowy tiered hem for a look that can take you from day to night.
If you’re looking to add a touch of sophistication to your wardrobe, the Academia Plaid Longline Blazer is just what you need. The vintage-inspired plaid pattern will make you feel like a million bucks, while the row of mottled buttons ensures that it’s also a perfect choice for work or play.
A great match to elevate your smart-casual outfit, this can be worn with ankle boots or a pair of sneakers.
We’ve already established that this brand is well known for its footwear and bag collection, and more recently, its clothing line BB Dakota, but did you know that they also have an accessories line as well? Yes, they have watches, jewelry, sunglasses, scarves, and more.
Keep in mind that these aren’t high-quality accessories, though. Its jewelry collection is more fashion than fine, and it’s just right for the girl on a tight budget. If you’re looking for hoop earrings, this pair is simply gorgeous. Top off your look with a pair of sleek black sunglasses and you’re all set for the day!
Verdict: So, Is Steve Madden A Good Brand? Is It a Luxury Brand?
Steve Madden is definitely a good brand with good quality products. If you are looking for new shoes, bags, or accessories, Steve Madden has a great selection that will fit your needs.
On the other hand, Steve Madden cannot be considered a luxury brand because the materials used are not of the same quality as other high-end brands. Furthermore, Steve Madden is well-known for creating affordable look-alikes of designer items, so it lacks the originality that other mid-tier, affordable luxury brands like Kate Spade have.
With this said, perhaps this is exactly what you’re looking for, in which case definitely indulge in Steve Madden’s selection! The quality is much better than cheaper designer look-alikes on Amazon or Shein, so if this is what you’re after, Steve Madden and to some extent Sam Edelman will be your best picks.
Overall, we recommend buying from Steve Madden. It offers the latest trends at a decent price that is accessible to most shoppers, warranting a purchase from time to time.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for something more high-end with creative, original designs, we recommend looking at affordable luxury brands like Tory Burch, and Cult Gaia that offer cool, innovating designs.