We all need more transparency by Steven Kolb

As President and CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of American (CFDA), Steven Kolb is perfectly placed to observe the industry’s broad transformations, both in the US and internationally. He shared his own views and perspective with Première Vision…

 

 

What are the main trends right now?

Looking at it from a business perspective, we’re not so much experiencing a trend but rather a time of total disruption. The social dimension has become crucial, and designers and brands are increasingly obliged to take into account the concerns troubling people today. They have to channel those concerns through their creativity and by sharing these values. I think we all need more transparency today. We need to know how a company operates, so a lot of information has to be freely shared and easily accessible. This goes from the origins of raw materials to the kinds of production processes, along with the issues of quality of life and gender equality in the workplace. Today, these are the elements that help consumers make informed choices when they step into a store or place an order through a website.

More than ever, eco-responsibility is THE big issue. How is this issue transforming the sector in the United States?

This has been a concern of the CFDA for over ten years. We developed a resource database to provide information on raw materials, major innovations and various research projects, all directly accessible through the cfda.com website. In my view, raw materials are an essential part of transforming the world of fashion. I also believe the second-hand and rental markets will see significant future growth, because one thing is certain, consumers are determined to increase the eco-responsible impact of their purchases.

Innovation is an important element as well. What are the most interesting new developments in this area?

Innovation is now closely tied to environmental concerns. The invention of natural materials such as mushroom-based fibres and the rise of recycled materials are absolutely fascinating. At the same time, the development of automation and on-demand production are also promising avenues for the future.

How would you define the new generation of American designers? What’s their view on how the fashion universe is evolving?

In terms of business, the younger generation is much less attached to traditional models. They no longer think solely in terms of seasons, for example. And then again, they were born with social media, they know that world by heart and know how to use it. They are each their own brand ambassador, and they understand the importance of the message.