top of page
  • Writer's pictureMikahila Bloomfield

What is the Council of Fashion Designers of America?

There's a new Thom in town — Thom Browne succeeds Tom Ford as CFDA Chairman on Jan 1.

Rarely ever seen not barely legs in a tailored suit, designer Thom Browne has been named the next chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America {CFDA]. Following a unanimous vote, the CFDA board announced the election of Browne for a two-year term. The designer will succeed Tom Ford, who recently completed his three-year term in May. Chief Executive Officer of the CFDA, Steven Kolb, has been serving as the interim chair and will stay in place until Browne takes the helm on January 1, 2023.

Since its inception, the CFDA has supported designers as they power through economic downturns. The CFDA has various initiatives including the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and their annual CFDA Fashion Awards.

Tom Ford CFDA Chairman at NYFW Dinner
CFDA chairman Tom Ford at the council's NYFW dinner in September 2019. (Photo Credit: Rex/Shutterstock)

Why was the CFDA created?

“Further the position of fashion design as a recognized branch of American art and culture." This is the stated mission of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). Founded in 1962, the CFDA is a non-profit trade association that currently represents more than 500 members, who collectively are responsible for designing approximately 90% of the clothing and accessories sold in the United States.

Back in 1962, a group of designers had the goal of promoting fashion design as an American art form. They believed fashion was a significant part of the country's culture and economy, and wanted to ensure American fashion. The CFDA is the organizing body for New York Fashion Week and the CFDA performs similar roles and responsibilities of its international counterparts — the British Fashion Council, the National Chamber of Italian Fashion, and the (formerly known as the Fédération Française de la Couture, du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode).

Anna Wintour and Telfar Clemens
Steven Kolb, Anna Wintour, Telfar Clemens, and Diane von Furstenberg with Telfar Clemens, 2017 winner of the CFDA / Vogue Fashion Fund. (Photo Credit: Andrew Morales / WWD)

Who are the leaders of CFDA?

CaSandra Diggs, CFDA President
CaSandra Diggs, CFDA President

Steve Kolb, CEO of the CFDA

Steve Kolb is the CEO of the CFDA. He was previously the President of the organization, and he has been working in the fashion industry for over 25 years. Kolb has been credited with helping to grow the CFDA into the powerhouse it is today, and he's also passionate about promoting American fashion both domestically and abroad.

CaSandra Diggs, CFDA President

CaSandra Diggs first joined the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) in 2001. In August 2020, Diggs became the first Black woman to hold the role of president at the organization. In school, Diggs initially studied criminal justice in college, and then accounting in graduate school — so, a career in fashion is not something Diggs had in mind early on. “It’s something that I happened upon,” says Diggs. “But once I got there, I enjoyed it and decided to stay.” Diggs was named one of WWD’s “50 Most Powerful Women” in 2021.

Tom Ford, CFDA Chairman

Renowned designer and former creative director of Gucci, Tom Ford was appointed to the CFDA chairman role in 2019 and ended a three-year term in Mary 2022. He succeeded Diane von Furstenberg, who had held the position for 13 years. During his term as Chairman, Ford has been credited with diversifying the boar, partnering with brands to help increase access to jobs and mentorships, and launching 'A Common Thread' with Vogue — an initiative that distributed over $5 million in relief aid to fashion businesses during the first two years of the pandemic.

Who are CFDA Members?

Among the more than 500 members, some of the most prominent CFDA members include Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Rachel Zoe, Rebecca Minkoff, Vera Wang, and the late Virgil Abloh. The process for membership to the CFDA takes place each Spring and is by invitation-only. Candidates are elected based on their “standing and integrity and must be actively engaged in creative fashion design.”

What are the CFDA Fashion Awards?

Since 1980, the CFDA has hosted an annual awards ceremony to honor the best and brightest talents in the American fashion industry. The CFDA Fashion Awards are considered the most prestigious accolades in the business, and they celebrate the best American womenswear, menswear, jewelry, and accessory designers.

The CFDA Fashion Awards are held annually in New York City, and has traditionally coincided with September New York Fashion Week. The ceremony features a star-studded red carpet, and the winners are selected by a panel of leading fashion designers and journalists. Past recipients of CFDA Fashion Awards include Tom Ford, Rick Owens, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Raf Simons for Calvin Klein, and Diddy for Sean John.

The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund designers
The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists. (Photo Credit: Tess Ayano/Vogue)

What is the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund?

Founded in the aftermath of the 2001 September 11th attacks, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund was established to support and nurture rising American design talent. In 2021, the Fund was reorganized and instead of awarding one top prize and two runners-up, the Fund offered grants to 10 American brands. The ten brands were: : Batsheva Hay of Batsheva; Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta of Eckhaus Latta; Anifa Mvuemba of Hanifa; Rebecca Henry and Akua Shabaka of House of Aama; Kenneth Nicholson; Jameel Mohammed of Khiry; LaQuan Smith; Abrima Erwiah of Studio 189; Edvin Thompson of Theophilio; and Willy Chavarria. The selection committee included Anna Wintour, Vogue’s Mark Holgate and Chioma Nnadi, Aurora James of Brother Vellies and the 15% Pledge, Instagram’s Eva Chen, model Paloma Elsesser, Saks Fifth Avenue’s Roopal Patel, Nordstrom’s Sam Lobban, and the CFDA’s Steven Kolb and Tom Ford.

What are your thoughts on the Council of Fashion Designers of America? Leave a comment below, follow Fashion League on Instagram, and subscribe to our newsletter for Faux or Fashion™ trivia, and the latest job postings from some of your favorite companies.


  • Pinterest - Black Circle
  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • Twitter - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle
Recent Posts
bottom of page