Tom Ford will end his role as chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America on May 31.
The CFDA plans to name a new chairperson in the fall who will begin in January 2023 to align with the CFDA’s fiscal calendar. Steven Kolb, chief executive officer of the CFDA, will assume the duties of interim chair through Dec. 31.
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“On May 31, I will be ending my three-year term as chairman of the CFDA. When I began my role as chairman in June of 2019, my goal was to help the American fashion industry become more globally recognized for its talent and importance,” Ford said.
“I could not have imagined the extraordinary circumstances that both the industry and the world would have to navigate — that a pandemic would shut the world down and change the course of our lives and our businesses forever. The pandemic challenged all of us to think about our businesses in new ways — from the design process and production to how we reach and speak to our customers. We were forced to come up with creative news ways to run our companies,” Ford said.
“Some may think that fashion is just about making beautiful clothes and accessories or having runway shows, dressing celebrities and throwing parties without considering the incredible amount of work that goes on behind the scenes, or that the fashion industry is a $3 trillion industry that employs millions of individuals. As chairman of the CFDA, I have had the privilege to experience firsthand the remarkable determination and optimism that drives our industry. I am honored to have been able to support the truly incredible talent in the American fashion industry for the past three years, and I look forward to continuing in my role on the CFDA board,” he continued.
“The CFDA and its board of directors thanks Tom Ford for his leadership working on behalf of the American fashion industry during an unprecedented time. Tom initiated tied several key initiatives which the CFDA remains firmly committed to,” Kolb said.
Ford was set to be chairman for two years and extended his role for an additional year, officially ending May 31. Historically, the chairperson role was a two- to four-year term, with Stan Herman and Diane von Furstenberg being exceptions. Herman served from 1991 to 2006, while von Furstenberg served from 2006 to 2019.
Other chairs have been Sydney Wragge, Norman Norell, Oscar de la Renta, Herbert Kasper, Bill Blass, Mary McFadden, Perry Ellis and Carolyne Roehm.
The CFDA consists of 450 womenswear, menswear, jewelry and accessories designers. The organization has been putting greater emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion through impact, as well as sustainability — all key pillars which a new CFDA chair will be expected to guide. The organization has been trying to raise its profile globally, which will continue to be another important initiative for a new chair, as well as rebuilding New York as a fashion capital in the face of immense competition from Milan and Paris.
During his term, Ford’s actions included diversifying the board of directors and membership; initiating new programs to bring much-needed diversity, equity and inclusion to the fashion industry, including the CFDA Impact to identify, connect and support talents through diversity, equity and inclusion work, and partnering with brands to provide access to hundreds of jobs, opportunities and mentorships.
In addition, he started A Common Thread with Vogue, which distributed more than $5 million in relief aid to fashion businesses during the first two years of the pandemic, 79 percent of them women- and minority-owned businesses.
In 2021, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund decided to grant funds to all finalists and personal mentorship with industry leaders based on designated areas of need.
Ford also spearheaded the move to tighten the Official NYFW Schedule to five days and five nights. He launched the American Collections Calendar to include all American designers regardless of when and where they show and helped forge stronger ties with IMG, which is the official organizer and operator of NYFW’s event and official central hub, NYFW: The Shows.
The CFDA, under Ford’s watch, also launched Runway360, CFDA’s digital platform to showcase and sell collections online. The CFDA also doubled its scholarship fund to $500,000 and added new scholarships to help young fashion students.
As interim chair through Dec. 31, Kolb will remain accountable to the board, with board oversight. The board’s current officers are Tracy Reese, vice chair, Vera Wang, secretary, and Stan Herman, treasurer. They will remain in place for the remainder of the year.
The board unanimously elected Tory Burch, Thom Browne and Aurora James to the board, effective June 1.
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