Yesterday the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) named Tom Ford its new president. Ford replaces Diane von Fustenberg’s position, who took over the presidency in 2006.
Ralph Toledano, Gary F. Simmons, Andrea Illy, Guillaume de Seynes and Michael Ward are some of the names that are at the front line of the largest associations in the fashion industry all over the world. Now the list has just added a new name: Tom Ford, new president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). Ford takes over Diane von Fustenberg’s position, who left office after thirteen years as head of the organization.
All countries that have a solid fashion industry have its own fashion association, which is responsible for the representation and defense of the sector, lobbying and organizing, in most cases, the fashion weeks of each country. The association structure of each market is, in turn, a reflection of the history and the current scenario of fashion in each country: from haute couture in France to retail in the United States.
Founded in 1962 by Eleanor Lambert, the CFDA was born with the aim of intensifying the impact of US fashion in the global economy. The association represents more than five hundred fashion brands of the North American country specialized in womenswear, menswear or accessories.
In addition to organizing its annual awards that recognize the talent in the sector, the CFDA is also owner of the Fashion Calendar and organizes the New York Men’s Fashion Week. Sydney Wragge, Norman Norell, Oscar de la Renta, Herbert Kaspwer, Mary McFadden, Perry Ellis, Carolyne Roehm, Stan Herman and Diane von Fustenberg, who just passed the baton to Tom Ford, are all the names that have gone through the presidency of CFDA since its inception.
The rest of the board of directors of the CFDA consists of Michael Kors, Marcus Wainwright (rag & bone), Mimi So (responsible for the namesake brand) and Vera Wang. Among the members of the association committee are designers and entrepreneurs such as Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Ashley Olsen and Georgina Chapman.
Another of the major fashion groups in the United States are the American Apparel&Footwear Association (AAFA), which helps companies to navigate the complex regulatory environment and reduce costs, and the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA), which operates with the aim of removing the tariff and non-tariff barriers that prevent the fashion industry to freely trade and create employment. Both have among their members companies such as VF, Under Armour, PVH, Levi Strauss or American Eagle.
Besides, in the United States there are other large associations that gather retail companies and have a great amount of fashion groups. That is the case of the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).
France has one of the earliest associations in the sector: the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, created in 1973, but whose origins go back to the old Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne, which was created in 1868.
The organization currently includes three unions that manage the different areas of the sector: the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the Chambre Syndicale de la Mode Masculine and the Chambre Syndicale du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode. The organization, which has more than one hundred members, is in charge of fostering the creation and international development of its members.
At the head of the federation is Ralph Toledano, a historical manager of the sector who, during his career, has led companies such as Chloé, Guy Laroche and Karl Lagerfeld, as well as the fashion division of Puig. Currently, he is chairman of the board of Victoria Beckham.
The rest of the members of the board of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode are other heavyweights of the fashion industry: Francesca Bellini, president and CEO of Yves Saint Laurent; Guillaume de Seynes, vice president of Hermès; Bruno Pavlovshy, president of the Chanel fashion division; Sidney Toledano, president and CEO of LVMH Fashion Group and Pascal Morand, executive president of the organization.
The United Kingdom also has an association dedicated to protecting the interests of fashion companies in the country, the British Fashion Council, which defines itself as an organization “committed to developing excellence and growth in a sector that is a significant contributor to the British economy.”
The head of the British Fashion Council is Stephanie Phair, director of strategy at Farfetch, who replaced Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-a-Porter. Communications specialist Caroline Rush, designer Anya Hindmarch, journalist Dylan Jones and businessman David Pemsel are the other members of the management committee of the British institution.
In Italy, the association of the sector is Sistema Moda Italia, which is part of Confindustria.
The organization is chaired by Mario Vago, co-owner of the eponymous company specialized in dying and spinning. The cluster was born in 2017 with the objective of boosting Italian fashion brands and bringing together all members of the textile, footwear, accessories, optics, leather, gold, furniture and decoration sectors to reinforce the signature made in Italy.
In Germany, meanwhile, launched in 2015 the Fashion Council Germany, founded with the aim of fostering and establishing German fashion as a cultural and economic asset following the footsteps of similar organizations in the United Kingdom and France. Christiane Arp, editor-in-chief of Vogue Germany, chairs the organization.
The ‘guardians’ of luxury
High-end fashion, on the other hand, has its own associations, focused on the preservation of the interests of the luxury industry. The largest of these is the Colbert Committee, created in 1954 by Jean-Jacques Guerlain to group the cultural institutions and luxury brands in France.
The association has 81 members from sectors such as fashion, gastronomy or the decorative arts. At the head of the Colbert Committee is Guillaume de Seynes, vice president of Hermès.
In Italy, its counterpart is the Altagamma foundation, launched in 1992 and which currently has more than 120 members. Its current president is Andrea Illy, of Illy Caffè, and its honorary president is Leonardo Ferragamo.
The luxury business also has its own association in the United Kingdom, Walpole, founded in 1992 and which has more than 210 British brands among its members. The association is chaired by Michael Ward, CEO of Harrods.
Spain also has its own luxury associations, Círculo Fortuny, chaired by Carlos Falcó. The association, which is part of the European group of luxury associations together with the previous three, has almost 40 members, of which 6 are fashion companies.