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Tom Ford on Fashion Realities, CFDA, Opportunities for People of Color – WWD




Tom Ford gets little or no sleep, drinks 10 cups of coffee a day, plays tennis every morning and teaches empathy to his 8-year-old.

That’s what the president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America told an audience at the Fashion Row Summit in Harlem on Thursday in a candid conversation about the realities of the industry.

“If you aspire to be a fashion designer or work in the fashion industry, if there is anything else you can do that would make you happy, just do it and don’t do fashion,” he says. “What I mean by that is fashion is a relentless business, it’s a tough business, it’s a tough business. As a designer, you will find it difficult each season to think of something meaningful for your clients. Every time you complete a collection you will think, “Oh my God, what am I going to do now? But if you love it, and you’re passionate about it, and can’t imagine doing anything else, then do it, because it can be an incredibly rewarding industry too. It can be a lot of fun if you approach it the right way, mixed in with these struggles, and it will give you great satisfaction.

In a lively 20-minute chat with Brandice Daniel, CEO and Founder of Harlem Fashion’s Row, Ford shared some of his tips for success in fashion.

“I think what has helped me succeed is the drive,” he said. “You can be the most talented person in the world, you can be the smartest person in the world… if you don’t have that motivation it’s very difficult to be successful. I also think you have to have a vision. If you can imagine something, you can make it happen. I’ve always had a plan and I try to keep a five-year plan, even if it’s a three-year plan – you certainly can’t exist in the world without a one-year plan. Close your eyes, imagine what you want to be, where you want to be and how you want your life to be, then go for it.

Regarding CFDA business, Ford discussed the renaming of the NYFW exhibition schedule to “American Collections Calendar.”

“It’s not to take away NYFW, it’s to support brands that are unable to show during NYFW in a conventional manner. It’s up to us to support American brands that have the luxury and the ability to show in Paris, for example, ”he said. “This is the reality of the world today, we are more and more global. Often, brands will need to show in China, or somewhere other than New York. It seemed to me that we should call it American Collections Calendar. This does not mean that we are abandoning New York. We just want to support the whole industry and how a particular brand needs to show itself in the best way for them. “

With the CFDA’s Runway360, all of those designers are covered on the platform and people can see all of the designers anytime, anywhere.

Regarding the industry’s lag in supporting designers and color designers and CFDA’s role in this regard, Ford said the new fashion week schedule could help as well.

“It can certainly benefit emerging color designers and emerging designers and really all American fashion designers,” he said, noting that emerging designers often don’t have the funds the big guys have. companies and they maybe need to show off their timeline or in a way that just doesn’t fit into fashion week.

Beyond that, the CFDA says it is making progress in improving diversity.

Last year, the CFDA launched several initiatives to benefit black fashion creatives, including a mentorship program, a donation to Harlem’s Fashion Row’s Icon360, and an internal employment program. Ford was asked what it had learned from all of these initiatives that would be of use to brands in the public eye.

“The Black Lives Matter movement got me to think deeper and try to put myself in what it would be like to be a black person in our culture,” he said. “Whatever your economic or social status, what you must be feeling. I hope the Black Lives Matter movement will stay with us, and it is very important that it doesn’t just go away and that it was a movement that happened at some point.

Further, he said, “It’s very important at CFDA, and for anyone with a voice, to follow through on all of these things.” The first thing he did when he became president of the CFDA, he said, which was before the Black Lives Matter movement, was to rebalance the board, so that it was in the both racial and sexist. And the efforts will have to be continuous.

“We have to continue to remind people how important this is. We must continue, ”said Ford. “At CFDA, we maintain it. We have created a black advisory committee, we follow all our initiatives. It is very much at the forefront of our thinking. We all have a responsibility to make sure we remember this.

As for Ford, he wants to leave a legacy that reflects that fashion is far from a frivolous industry in terms of what it can accomplish.

“I think people need to understand the beauty of fashion and life isn’t just a trivial thing. It can actually improve the quality of your life. It will seem really trite. We are all getting old. Maybe we’re having a bad day. For me, looking at something beautiful can actually be uplifting. It adds tremendously to our lives, ”he said. “But I also like to think of myself as an example of having this vision, of persevering, of working hard and not giving up, of being determined. I really think the most important thing is to believe in yourself and to believe that you can accomplish something. Fortunately – and luck plays a big part in all of this – I was able to do it. “


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