Free Enterprise Staff  | February 9, 2016

Fashion Week on Free Enterprise

With New York Fashion Week just days away, we’re kicking off a weeklong series that highlights the small businesses and rising entrepreneurs of the fashion world. From a design and manufacturing hub in L.A. to a new wave of clothing brands sweeping the nation, we’re taking a closer look at the new faces and places of the industry.

But before we get started, a brief history: Fashion week was founded in New York City in 1943 by a woman named Eleanor Lambert, who was a prominent publicist in the art and fashion world. She saw that designers were lacking a way to show off their collections to the international press, and thus, Fashion Press Week was born. The semi-annual event was held throughout the city each February and September, often in difficult-to-reach or unsafe locations. So, when Lambert created the Council of Fashion Designers of America (the CFDA) in 1962, they sought to unify the event. Flash-forward 30 years to the early 90s, and New York Fashion Week as we now know it – a high-glitz, can’t-miss event for the sartorial cognoscenti to see and be seen – was established.


It’s hard to believe that one woman’s mission to help designers show off their labors of love has transformed into the cultural phenomenon it is today. With more than 250 shows at last September’s fashion week, the event brings together designers from all walks of the industry. Lesser-known brands have the chance to show their designs alongside established fashion houses; last fall, Edun—a small, modern clothing line focused on sustainable growth—showed in Spring Studios just a few hours after Diane von Furstenberg, president of the CFDA and industry heavyweight.


Throughout the week, we’ll be highlighting the business side of fashion—after all, clothing and shoes are more than just fun to look at. The industry rakes in around $1.2 trillion worldwide, with Americans spending more than $250 billion on apparel every single year. We’ll focus on how brands large and small are cashing in on the athleisure trend, how the little guys of the industry are finding their footing, how a small subset of L.A. has become a designer’s dream,, and how an e-tailer is changing the way men shop. Check back every day this week for your dose of fashion entrepreneurs doing big things!