Harlem's Fashion Row (HFR) is a 5-year-old organization whose mission is to increase diversity in fashion and to provide support and education for emerging designers within Harlem’s community. Last night Steven Kolb spoke at an event, called "Conversations," for HFR in Harlem at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (which literary fiends may be excited to learn is also the resting place of Langston Hughes’s remains.) Kolb was interviewed in a one-on-one format by HFR's founder, Brandice Henderson. The evening served as an educational forum for those in the audience who have their sights set on design and future CFDA membership. (Not to mention we learned five cool things about Steven Kolb himself. Like that he used to play football. Seriously.)
“I am an ambassador for multicultural designers. It’s not so much a position as much as it is who I am,” Henderson, who wore a yellow dress by one of the neighborhood’s young designers, told us. She founded HFR about five years ago with a fashion show, and the organization has been growing. Steven Kolb was there to support that effort.
“I recently met with the organizer for Brooklyn fashion week and I’m here tonight," he told us. "Unfortunately our industry tends to circumvent around fashion week—it’s where a majority of the business happens—but this is just as relevant as that, as is Brooklyn."
One of the symposium’s hot topics was the covetable CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award, an accolade that many consider to be the foremost way for young designers to break into American fashion. “It’s not right for everyone,” Kolb advised the audience, “you have to have carved out something very special and have a high amount of visibility. It’s about doing something fresh and having clarity.”
While the discussion was a great way for young talent to listen to reputable advice from an industry leader, we also learned some new facts—about Kolb specifically. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about him:
1. He wore a blue jacket and a purple sweater to his first meeting with Anna Wintour.
2. Leading up to the CFDA’s 50th anniversary, Kolb read the organization’s entire archive of minutes, recorded since its founding in 1962.
3. Instead of requesting presents for his 50th birthday, Kolb asked friends to donate money to Charity:Water. He had hoped to raise $5,000 but received a total of $30,000 instead.
4. He doesn’t quite understand why fashion people complain about fatigue throughout fashion week: “It’s not like we’re digging ditches here!” he exclaimed.
5. Kolb played football in high school. “I was the guy who hands the ball to the guy who throws the ball,” he said, “I never really got to play but I was friends with the cheerleaders, so they’d always chant, 'PUT STEVEN IN!'”