Sam and Libby Edelman fell in love at a 1979 shoe fair. He was there as a salesman for his father’s business, she as footwear fashion editor for Seventeen magazine. Now they own Sam & Libby California, which offers a popular line of leather flats.

Along the way, Mr. Edelman, 37 years old, was an executive at Kenneth Cole and El Greco, and Mrs. Edelman, 36, was director of public relations at Calvin Klein. The native New Yorkers headed west in 1983 to join Esprit de Corp., a San Francisco sportswear company. In July 1987, they left Esprit to form Sam & Libby.

In Europe that summer, they saw young women wearing ballet flats. ”I thought, if fashion comes from Europe, the ballet will be the next hot shoe in America,” Mr. Edelman said. ”But we couldn’t just copy the Europeans – American fashion needs to be frilly, flirty and decorated – so we put a big leather bow on it.”

Sam & Libby has since sold 1.5 million pairs of leather ballet flats, at about $30 a pair. Stores carrying the line include Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Nordstrom. It has branched out into many designs, all flats except for one short, heeled boot. For fall, the company has black velvet slippers decorated with small mirrors, and burgundy suede flats with gold charms. For spring, it offers multicolored huaraches, batik-fabric flats and strap sandals dubbed the Straptease.

Happy ShoesDay! This summer we are reminiscing on our favorite and least favorite shoes and what they meant for us. The stories about those shoes tell a lot about us. You can read about athletic Mary Janes here and platform wedge espadrilles here. For a delightful summer read, may I recommend the delightful book Love, Loss, and What I Wore by Ilene Beckerman. Join me as I remember my favorite flat: the Sam & Libby bow.

I remember the Sam & Libby bow flat craze like it was yesterday. It was perfect with my high school uniform skirt, or jeans, a dress, or literally, whatever. At first I had only a few pairs in basic colors: black leather, and white leather. But then I got them in the baby pink leather. One summer I got a job at Mervyn’s, and picked up a bunch of knock-off’s with my associate discount. Are you ready? To my collection, I added black patent leather (with ribbon bows), black suede, and teal suede.

#25years #samandlibby #stylestatement #90sfashion

These babies took me through the late 80s and into the early to mid 90s, even. They were perfect for school, church, and work. Just a bit casual in their whimsy, and yet appropriate for more dressy situations such as an interview, or a wedding reception. And, those cute pink boxes! Perfect for storing photos, letters, and other ephemera.

#shoesday #samandlibby #ballerinaflat #bowflat #stylestatement #pinkbox

During this time, I let my athletic shoes expire, being that I didn’t have to take P.E. anymore. (My two sports require their own shoes.) I do recall my good friend in college saying “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t own a pair of tennis shoes.” Later, I would pick up some classics- tune in next week!

I also ventured into another ballerina flat, the kind with loops for ankle straps. I had white leather, and black leather. I would switch out the leather straps for actual ribbon. The perfect outlet for my INFP, Enneagram 4 (wing 2), creative introvert self. I remember even wearing white ribbons with black music notes on them, ha ha. I was so upset when 9 west discontinued the ankle strap ballet flat. Any others are just not the same.

My writer’s journey would later lead me to the style statement quest- the style statement being more of a mission statement embedded within style words. The book suggested statements such as Sacred Dramatic, and Refined Treasure. What I found so interesting in exploring my own style statement, was that many words which appealed to me were from shoe style names and Etsy store names. What’s your Style Statement? I do encourage this exercise in self-discovery, if you haven’t done this type of thing before. Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design is by Danielle LaPorte and Carrie McCarthy.

Sam & Libby came back last summer for a hot minute. But even in Target, I felt they were overpriced. I’ve moved on to the grown up Mary Jane. But I remember these shoes oh so fondly, as they were popular during my formative years. You might say that I found myself in them.




$49.99 Buy It Now 28d 14h, FREE Shipping, eBay Money Back Guarantee

Seller: blue_gilmour (1,186) 100%, Location: Los Angeles, California, Ships to: US, Item: 173243509651 *For your consideration: a CLASSIC pair of black velvet and satin bow ballet flats by beloved shoe company SAM & LIBBY! *The style could not be more classic — little slip on bow ballet flats with an upper of ink-black velvet, detailed with a black satin bow, satin piping, and a satin toe cap. *Silvery gray leather interior soles. *Retailed for over $100.00! *These shoes would look s00per-cute with your jeans OR skirts! *These shoes are marked a US size 8, and fit true to size. They measure 3.25 inches across the toe box,10 inches from heel to toe, Pancake flat heels. *They have been very gently worn (see pictures), but still have plenty of life left in them! *Economy shipping with tracking is FREE to anywhere in the United States! *Please ask questions because all sales are final and I do not accept returns. All set prices are final and I do not re-negotiate prices after purchase. I do not like to file non-paying bidder complaints (or complain about anyone for that matter) so please let’s do business in good faith. *All items come from our pet-free, smoke-free, empty nest home – no worries about smoky, animal-dandery items or “my kid got paint on your item” here! *Bid with confidence – my feedback is overwhelmingly positive! *Check out my other eBay auctions for designer clothing, designer shoes, books, magazines, collectibles, and MORE! Condition: Pre-owned, Condition: Worn a few times, but really almost new!, Brand: Sam & Libby, Style: Ballet Flats, US Shoe Size (Women’s): US 8/UK 6/EU 38.5, Width: Medium (B, M), Heel Height: Flat (0 to 1/2 in.), Color: Black, Pattern: Solid, Country/Region of Manufacture: Unknown, Occasion: Special Occasion, Features: Bows, Toe Type: Round Toe, Fastening: Slip On, Heel Type: Flat, Theme: Bow, Material: Velvet See More

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FASHION : Sam & Libby: Quite a Pair

You’ve seen them in magazine ads. He reclines on a black leather couch, dressed in a striped shirt. She perches by his side, leaning over him in an oversize sweater and comfy sweat pants. His right hand caresses her trim upper thigh. A wash of natural light illuminates his gleaming white teeth.

There’s an obsession here–but it isn’t Calvin Klein’s. It is Sam Edelman’s for Libby Edelman, and Libby’s for Sam. The husband-and-wife business team has created a sexy corporate image that, hard as it may be for cynics to believe, seems to reflect reality.

Besides being the “perfect” couple, they are the founders and owners of Sam & Libby, a $51-million footwear business just 3 years old. Their faces are plastered across double-page ads in fashion magazines promoting their product, though nary a shoe is pictured. This has some people wondering: Who is that couple?

Ask the women and children of America who wear 3 million pairs of bow-adorned ballet flats, a mainstay of the collections. Those customers know Sam & Libby as a label that provides comfortable, under-$50 styles in stores such as Robinson’s nationwide.


(The girls’ shoes sell for $20 to $34 at children’s specialty stores such as Bernans in South Coast Plaza. Designs for little boys are scheduled to debut in a few months.)

Unlike many designers who raise prices as the cachet of their label catches on, the Edelmans have lowered theirs. Men’s styles, launched in August, were priced $50 to $70 but now sell for less than $50.

“We’re all about affordable fashion; people don’t want to spend a week’s salary for the clothing on their backs or the shoes on their feet,” says Sam, 38, the financial strongman of the company. His impish grin and expressive brows are quick to charm, but business colleagues soon find out he watches the bottom line.

The effort to keep prices down keeps loyalty high. About 75 letters per week arrive in the company’s Bay Area offices. Many compliment the comfortable fit and low prices of the shoes. Libby maintains she answers every letter personally, a task she completes in flight on business trips.


Libby, 37, is a striking blonde with a natural, winning smile and an easy laugh. As head of the company’s six-person design team, with offices in Italy and France, she is constantly on the lookout for inspiration. The weathered pink structures of a seawall in Panama influenced her spring color palette. Closer to home, the contrasting trim on historic San Francisco buildings prompted her to add piping to a few designs.

Sam handles 15-hour days–overseeing corporate business and maintaining contact with production offices in Brazil–so Libby can spend more time with their children. On a recent morning, Libby was up at 6 a.m. to jog. Later, she quizzed Jesse, 7, for a spelling test. Daughter Callie, 4, and Max, 1, watched as she dried her hair, dressed, climbed into her car and headed to the office before taking off on a business trip to St. Louis.

The designer’s life isn’t all fashion-show glamour and business dinners. She gets down on her knees to fit customers with Sam & Libby shoes, the only kind she wears–except for a pair of equestrian riding boots. (An impromptu inspection of her semi-organized closet verified the claim, and revealed a soft spot for Donna Karan belts.) Although the children stay behind during business trips, they help entertain VIP customers invited to the family home.

Home is a sprawling four-bedroom farmhouse built in 1920. Next to the main house is a guest house and a separate garage, all situated in a wooded setting surrounded by green, rolling hills. Horses bred for jumping (an Edelman pastime) meander about the property, which also includes a swimming pool circled by lounge chairs. Inside, tasteful French-country furnishings are surrounded by dozens of kitschy equestrian paintings.

The couple met 11 years ago in New York when Libby, then an editor for Seventeen magazine, called on Sam at his father’s now-defunct shoe company to borrow footwear for a photo shoot. The attraction was immediate, but it took about eight weeks for a serious relationship to develop.

“Thank God for the shoe market,” Libby says, recalling the occasion that brought the two together again after their first meeting, “when it really became love.”

In 1981, after the couple were married, Libby headed Calvin Klein’s public-relations department while Sam worked for Kenneth Cole and El Greco, among other shoe companies. They headed West when San Francisco-based Esprit offered both Sam and Libby a job in its shoe division. Sam served as president, Libby as merchandising manager. The Edelmans left in July, 1987, to start their own business.

Transforming the dream into a reality was no easy project. Though Sam had spent years in the industry, he was unsuccessful in obtaining outside backing.


“I sent out business plans, got short haircuts–but nothing,” he recalls, now able to laugh about it.

To make Sam & Libby happen, the Edelmans took out a second mortgage on their home. They sold some property behind their house, “right up to the doorstep.” They unloaded their cars and drove rentals. They borrowed money from relatives. Sam even drove Libby to what he calls “a very different neighborhood” and showed her a small two-bedroom apartment.

“I told her if we lose the house this is where we’ll be living,” he recalls. “And Libby says to me, ‘it’s great, comfy–we could have a lot of fun here.’ It was then I realized we really could be happy anywhere.”

The risk paid off. The Edelmans did $3 million their first year, $25 million their second year and $51 million their third. Today, Sam admits he heartily relishes turning down the investors who once thumbed their noses at his fledging venture.

Not every married couple can work together successfully. The Edelmans’ stint at Esprit, then headed by Doug and Susie Tompkins, offered a glimpse of what doesn’t work. (Susie Tompkins bought out her estranged husband and now runs the U.S. company solo.)

“We know the classic mistakes that husband-and-wife teams make and we try to avoid them,” Sam says. “Many times, if the wife is the designer and you have a bad season, you can’t blame everything on her. Instead of blaming each other, we say, ‘let’s do better next time.’ ”

At any rate, their holiday offering looks like a hit. Black velvet and metallic leather shoes are the leading styles. There are traditional ballet flats as well as sexy, T-strap heels. And gold and silver matte metallics are catching on as neutral choices for daytime.

Looking ahead, the Edelmans plan to launch next March a casual sportswear collection, a venture they believe will be even more successful than their shoe empire. The line, with jeans priced under $40 and tops tagged from $19 to $29, will be ideal for travel, Libby says. “We’re thinking of giving away a little suitcase with a whole outfit” as a promotion, she says.


The Edelmans’ enthusiasm is both catching and telling. That confidence, they say, is a direct result of constant communication at home and work. Although they don’t always agree, each knows the other’s strengths and weaknesses.

“If I had my choice, I could spend a Saturday afternoon organizing all our books by category, height and color,” Sam says, completely serious. “Libby, if she could, would sit around the pool eating Hostess Twinkies.”

She agrees.

Sam & Libby

Sam & Libby flats, Sam & Libby pumps and Sam & Libby sandals offer hip, affordable fashion for the customer with a grand instinct for style, but not a grand budget. Sam & Libby also offers girls’ shoes in adorable styles such as mary janes, wedges and ballerina flats, to match mom’s refined sense of style.
The Sam & Libby customer is fashion-savvy but still knows that classics never go out of style. When she wears Sam & Libby shoes, Sam & Libby sandals and Sam & Libby boots, she knows she’s stepping out with flair, proving fabulous fashion doesn’t have to be a costly habit. She can showcase the latest Sam & Libby trends and be a part of a unique and fashionable lifestyle. From the hippest flats for work to weekend, to dressy sandals for that special night out, Sam & Libby caters to the modern woman’s fashion needs.
Sam & Libby offers shoes that seamlessly blend of-the-moment fashion elements with practical style to fit into any wardrobe, lifestyle and mood. From their fun and feminine ballerina-inspired flats, to their classy and sophisticated dress sandals, Sam & Libby has the modern, fashion-forward woman covered.

Sam and libby chelsea

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