Nina Footwear is one of the few family-run, fashion companies in the shoe business. In 1953, Mike and Stanley Silverstein founded Nina with a fashion clog, building Nina from a budding business, which operated from a loft on Prince Street in New York, to its current status as one of the most widely respected independent companies in the shoe industry. Nina's sexy, well-priced shoes are widely featured in fashion magazines. A favorite of the "splurge vs. steal" columns, Nina is frequently shown as the only fashion item under $100 along side of shoes priced from $300-$700. In the early 1950s, Mike and Stanley Silverstein were strolling around New York when they saw a woman walk by in wood bottom sandals. They asked her about where she had bought them, and when she named a chic boutique in the city, the two brothers knew the time was right to launch their reinterpretation of the clog -- a sexy, platform slide with a wood stiletto-like heel. It was this simple slide that launched Nina Footwear. In 2005, Nina celebrates its 50th anniversary, marking 50 years from the year of the company's incorporation, 1955. Mike and Stanley's father, Max Silverstein, was an award-winning shoe designer who produced and sold wood bottom shoes in Cuba. "The shoes were so popular that when we came to New York in the 1940s, he tried to sell them again, but there were wood shortages due to the war effort," Mike recalls. The shop on Eldridge Street that Max opened with his sons lasted only a year, but the idea of wood-bottom shoes endured. The two brothers gained experience in the accessories trade by managing handbag factories, and soon, they were ready to go into business for themselves. They began in a small loft on Prince Street, and christened the company Nina, in honor of Stanley's first-born daughter. Six months later, they expanded to Third and Sullivan Streets in Greenwich Village, where business boomed as Stanley introduced the first raw-seamed, unlined skimmers. Over the years, the company moved the production to factories in Queens, NY, then Spain and Italy, but the shoes have always been designed in New York City. In the 1950s, Nina's elegant platform sandals were worn by Miss Universe contestants, when, as Mike Silverstein remembers, the pageant was "basically a swim suit contest." Nina has renewed its historic association with the Miss Universe Organization. The contestants wear Nina shoes during the swimsuit segment and opening production numbers during the pageant, which is now broadcast in 160 countries with an estimated viewership of 800,000,000. Nina is also the shoe sponsor of the Miss Teen USA Pageant, which is broadcast in 60 countries, and of the America's Junior Miss Pageant. All the pageant winners come to Nina's showroom in New York and select a wardrobe of Nina shoes to wear during their reigns. Nina shoes are widely available in department stores across the United States, as well as independent retailers. The Nina brand is also sold in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, China, The United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Canada. Nina is now the parent company for several lines of footwear, including Delman and Nina kids.
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