Steven Kolb

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Steven Kolb is president and chief executive officer of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), a group of over 500 American fashion womenswear, menswear, jewelry, and accessories designers. He holds a Masters in Public Administration from New York University. In May 2014 Kolb received an honorary doctorate of the Arts from Kendall College of Art and Design at Ferris State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.[2]. The Business of Fashion ranks Kolb as one of 500 people shaping the global fashion industry. [3]

Kolb manages the CFDA’s membership, trade association activities, and longstanding philanthropic initiatives such as Fashion Targets Breast Cancer,[1] which raises public awareness and funds for breast cancer research in the U.S. and internationally. Furthermore, he has overseen raising funds for natural disasters such as Fashion for Sandy,[2] which raised funds after Hurricane Sandy and for HIV/AIDS through initiatives such as 7th on Sale.

Kolb works directly with CFDA Board Chair Diane von Furstenberg and the Board of Directors, which is composed of America’s foremost designers, such as Vera Wang, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Ashley Olsen, Prabal Gurung, and Deborah Lloyd]].[3]

One of Kolb’s largest contributions to American fashion has been his leadership role in cultivating the next wave of emerging American fashion talent through programs such as the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund[4] (CVFF) and the CFDA {FASHION INCUBATOR}.[5] Kolb serves as a judge for CVFF and is featured on "The Fashion Fund," an original unscripted series documenting CVFF. Furthermore, under Kolb’s guidance, the annual CFDA Fashion Awards has become the preeminent spotlight on American fashion, even being called the Oscars of Fashion.[6]

Under his direction, the CFDA worked with the Boston Consulting group to conduct an extensive study to evaluate the purpose of New York Fashion Week. The intent of the study was to question the status quo of fashion week and stimulate a dialogue in the American fashion industry.[7]

Kolb has also worked to establish the Strategic Partnerships Group (SPG) at the CFDA. This group works to strategically align corporate partners with the CFDA’s members, in an effort to leverage and add value to both the partner and the designer, respectively. Charlotte Ronson and Stacey Bendet of Alice & Olivia created limited-edition items for Starbucks as a result of one of these symbiotic partner and designer relationships.[8]

Furthermore, Kolb has helped pave the way for the CFDA’s Health Initiative, which was formed to address the overwhelming concern about whether some models are unhealthily thin, and how to implement best practices in such cases. Kolb also works tirelessly to keep a designer’s original designs intact through efforts such as the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act. Moreover, Kolb works with international counterparts to manage the global fashion week schedule.

Kolb has helped develop the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative,[9] which is an investment fund to help revitalize New York City’s garment industry. The program offers matching financial grants to New York City’s fashion manufacturing production facilities looking to grow and sustain their business by acquiring of innovative equipment, expanding their services, training workers, and creating professional development programming.

A major accomplishment, Kolb successfully led CFDA's effort to acquire the Fashion Calendar—the official schedule of fashion events and shows in New York, including New York Fashion Week. [4]

In July 2015, under Kolb's leadership, New York Fashion Week: Men's launched creating a stand-alone fashion week for American menswear that aligns with the men's market. [5]

Prior work[edit]

Kolb’s background was also in the non-profit sector, but focused on raising funds for HIV and AIDS and cancer. He began his career at the American Cancer Society in New Jersey. While working as the deputy director at the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS DIFFA he managed a network of chapter affiliates and raised millions of dollars through events like Dining by Design and caused related marketing programs like the Gift of Hope. He is the founding executive director of MTV's Staying Alive Foundation where is set up the organization as a 501(c)3 and established an international grant making program for HIV/AIDS prevention and education for youth.

Personal life[edit]

On December 27, 2012 Kolb married longtime partner Jason Inkpen in New York City. He has a collection of owls.[10]

Kolb practices Transcendental Meditation.[11]


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