Calling Mr. Hathaway

Saks and Fairchild’s 'Footwear News' revive David Ogilvy’s eye patch icon

Headshot of Emma Bazilian

For the average Saks Fifth Avenue customer, it might seem a bit strange that the male half of the glamorous couple starring in the department store’s latest Sexy Shoes magazine—a custom publishing effort between Fairchild's Footwear News and Saks—happens to be sporting an eye patch. But advertising buffs will notice a distinct similarity between Saks’ male model and another famously eyesight-challenged gentleman: David Ogilvy’s “Man in the Hathaway Shirt.”

For the uninitiated: While working on an ad campaign for shirt manufacturer C.F. Hathaway in 1951, Ogilvy became inspired by photos of politician Lewis Douglas sporting an eye patch and put one on the Hathaway shirt model. When the ads ran in The New Yorker, Hathaway’s entire stock sold out.

The Ogilvy reference wasn’t unintentional, says WWD special products creative director Nancy Butkus, who came up with the idea. “I had to produce a magazine that ‘starred’ 25 pairs of shoes, and we needed a narrative to keep the reader’s interest,” she tells Adweek. “I thought an older man and younger female model could be intriguing, and then I remembered the Hathaway shirt man and how the mysterious black eye patch created an instant narrative. Suddenly, the relationship between the man and the woman seemed much more complex and powerful.”

And while the photo spread is meant to highlight fall footwear, the scene-stealing “Man With the Saks Shoes” might start his own trend when the title hits on Sept. 26. Eye patch chic, anyone?”

@adweekemma Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.