The CFDA is a lot of things. It's an organization of American fashion designers; it connects young designers with mentors; it gives out awards; it gives out money to emerging designers (with help from Vogue); and, as of recently, it controls the New York Fashion Week calendar and even publishes books.
Tuesday marks the launch of its ninth tome, “The Pursuit of Style: Advice and Musings from America’s Top Fashion Designers,” a compilation of quotes from its 400+ members, offering tips for breaking into the industry, general words of wisdom, style advice and more.
As CFDA CEO Steven Kolb put it when we spoke over the phone Monday, it's "the collective voice of American fashion." It also features illustrations by Bil Donovan throughout.
"We wanted to do a bright, fun, inspiring spring book," said Kolb when asked why the CFDA decided to do an advice book. "Spring is a time of hope." But fun wasn't the only impetus: Having published a variety of books, from one on designers' favorite travel destinations to one on their favorite recipes, Kolb says the big sellers have been "the ones that give personal insight and perspective into the thinking of designers."
And this does just that. While he refused to pick a favorite, Kolb pointed to a quote from Jenna Lyons (which also happened to be one of our favorites), which you can see on the right. "It's telling and honest in a fun way," says Kolb. "And some of the things Diane [von Furstenberg] said are things I hear her say all the time. These are not just made up comments, these are truthful thoughts and experiences."
And while that's nice, we couldn't help but wonder what exactly the CFDA stands to gain from publishing a book. The books are successful and do raise money, Kolb confirmed, but there are other reasons. One is that they provide a democratic platform for designers to promote themselves (each member who filled out the questionnaire was included -- regardless of how big or small the designer).
Another reason, Kolb says, is to promote the CFDA as it becomes increasingly public-facing and moves beyond its beginnings as a trade organization that only the industry interacts with. With events like the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund (now a television show) and the star-studded CFDA Awards putting the organization in the public eye, Kolb says it plans to focus on creating content for consumers interested in fashion. "We have so much access -- not only to the CFDA but to all of our members," says Kolb.
Another book is already in the works and set for a spring 2015 launch. But sooner than that is the CFDA Awards, where Rihanna will be honored as the Fashion Icon of the Year. And yes, you'll be able to watch that happen: Kolb says the CFDA will be "playing around" with the formatting this year and that the event will be recorded and streamed in some capacity.