In honor of today’s edition of The Zoe Report featuring IMPACT: 50 Years of the CFDA, we took the opportunity to speak with the insightful Steven Kolb (@StevenKolb), current CEO of the @CFDA—talk about a major player on the American fashion scene! Peep our exclusive interview below! xo, Team Zoe
1. IMPACT: 50 Years of the CFDA highlights the game-changing moments of several notable fashion designers. In your own career, what have been the most defining memories?
My first job out of college was with the American Cancer Society. I was a bit shy but for some reason the President of the ACS took me under his wing and gave me special projects that exposed me to people, places and knowledge. I learned so much and gained great experience from him giving me the opportunities. Much of who I am today as the CEO of CFDA I can trace back to him. Lesson learned? Take time to teach and mentor.
2. Diane von Furstenberg has served as President of the CFDA since 2006—while working closely alongside her, have you gleaned any pearls of wisdom you’d care to share with our Zoe Reporters?
One of Diane’s mottos is “be the woman you want to be.” I think that is true for men too and it is how I live my life.
3. What do you look for when scoping young talent? Are there any outstanding qualities that constitute the making of the next great American designer?
The most successful designers are ones who have a very strong point of view and are not influenced by the work of other designers. It is important to be yourself and to focus on the craft of making clothes. It is not good enough just to have an idea. You need to be able to execute the idea. Without commitment and true passion a designer will not succeed.
4. Being CEO undoubtedly has its obstacles, but not without its many perks. What is the best part about your job?
Two perks come to mind. I have the great privilege to personally know and spend time with so many creative people and I get a really good deal on clothes.
5. You’re working on copyright initiatives to protect the creative work of fashion designers—what progress has been made on that front?
We have changed the conversation on design. Last season we introduced our Design Manifesto, “Design. Protect It.” The message is about inspiration, creativity, talent, originality and integrity among other strong words designers should always have in mind when creating. The more we can share that message the better our industry will be. We are also working with eBay again on the “You Can’t Fake Fashion” campaign. Over 75 CFDA designers created one of kind totes that will be on sale in the spring. And we are still lobbying in Washington to create laws giving fashion copyright protection.
6. What do you hope to see in the near future for the American fashion industry?
Fashion is so global now that it cannot be defined by boarders. Each city will always have his cultural place on the map but the more is more to gain if the fashion capitals of the world would work together more. I hope that for American fashion.