Steven Kolb Tells Us About the CFDA's Big Expansion Plans as Membership Swells to 454 Designers

Whether it's launching new programs like the sustainability committee, or adding 32 new designers as reported in today's WWD, lately it's all about growth for the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
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Tyler McCall
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Whether it's launching new programs like the sustainability committee, or adding 32 new designers as reported in today's WWD, lately it's all about growth for the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
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Getty

Whether it's launching new programs like the sustainability committee, or adding 32 new designers as reported in today's WWD, lately it's all about growth for the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

There's no question that the CFDA is in expansion mode, so we wanted to catch up with CFDA CEO Steven Kolb about this latest membership addition.

First, we had to know what it takes to become an official member of the CFDA. Kolb tells us applicants must have "two letters of reference from current CFDA members working in their category and a portfolio that represents their talent and success" accompanying their application--and of course, "Talent!"

This year's crop of new designers includes the likes of already successful designers such as Christian Siriano and The Elder Statesman’s Greg Chait, as well as some who were nominated at this year's CFDA Awards like Suno’s Erin Beatty and Max Osterweis and Todd Snyder.

It's a standout addition to the CFDA's roster of over 400 designers, to be sure. But for Kolb, these 32 designers represent more than just their own talents. "It is not so much about this group, but how we have grown to include a broader group of designers," Kolb told us.

"Our membership is the highest it has ever been, having grown over the last seven years from 250 to 454 with the addition of the class of 2013. It is a modern roster that represents creativity in fashion from designers on [their own] label to creative directors at big brands."

All of the new members will have access to CFDA benefits. The group connects the designers with corporations that "provide services, discounts and work opportunities," as well as the chance to participate in workshops and other professional development programs, like their newly-launched "Americans in China" program.

And if anyone might accuse the CFDA of becoming bloated--especially with the increasingly over-crowded New York Fashion Week schedule--Kolb is not worried. "American fashion is the strongest market for new talent," he said, adding that the growing ranks of the CFDA "shows the fortitude of fashion, which is $350 billion industry."

"I only see the CFDA getting bigger!"