As Chief Executive Officer of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Steven Kolb oversees all operations and activities for the American fashion industry's preeminent designer trade association and its affiliated charity. CFDA membership consists of more than 400 of America's leading womenswear, menswear, jewelry and accessory designers.
Kolb’s responsibilities include managing all member services, trade association activities, and philanthropic initiatives. He reports to and works directly with President Diane von Furstenberg and the Board of Directors, comprised of 27 of America’s foremost designers.
Kolb helps to nurture the next generation of American designers via many programs, including the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, a groundbreaking endowment which provides financial assistance and mentoring to the most promising American designers, and that to date has secured more than $10 million in funding. He is committed to fostering design education through scholarship programs at the High School and College levels and was responsible for a $5 million endowment that established the Geoffrey Beene Design Scholarship and a $1 million endowment in the name of Liz Claiborne. He also oversees the Teen Vogue Scholarship supported by Target and the Gilt All-Stars Scholarship. In 2010, Kolb partnered with the City, Newmark Knight Frank, and the NYC Economic Development Corporation to create the CFDA Fashion Incubator, a program that provides up-and-coming designers with mentorships and low-cost studio space in the heart of NYC’s garment district.
Through Kolb’s leadership, the annual CFDA Fashion Awards have become the premiere international fashion event of the year, promoting American fashion around the world and raising a significant amount of money for the CFDA and the CFDA Foundation.
One his most important efforts has been the establishment of the Business Services Network (BSN), a community of high-profile businesses, both in the fashion industry and outside, which creates custom programming that meets their needs while providing tangible value to CFDA members. The purpose of the network is to create strategic access, value and opportunity for new business development, licensing opportunities, and jobs with the shared vision of supporting CFDA members and their businesses. Additional support services for members include a website, health insurance, legal advocacy, business and technical assistance, mentoring and a series of seminars to train younger emerging designers.
Aligning with trade associations in the U.K., Paris and Milan to promote design protection internationally, Kolb continues to lead efforts in Washington, D.C., to pass the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act, which would protect a fashion designer's work from being copied without their permission.
Kolb also works with his international counterparts to manage the global Fashion Week schedule. He is a key decision maker, along with IMG Fashion and the Fashion Calendar, in the scheduling and presentation of New York's Fashion Weeks and works directly with the office of New York City Mayor Bloomberg to foster economic growth of the fashion industry, trhough various initiatives.
Kolb played an integral role in the creation of Fashion’s Night Out (FNO); an unprecedented global initiative originally created in 2009 to celebrate fashion, restore consumer confidence, and boost the industry’s economy during the recession. This annual event takes place every September in New York City and over 100 cities nationwide to highlight fashion and support retail with exciting events that include designer appearances, celebrity guests, fashion shows and musical performances. In the United States, FNO is a collaboration between American Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, NYC & Company, and the City of New York.
He has documented the CFDA, its membership and the history of American fashion through eight books, including the influential American Fashion series of books covering womenswear, menswear and accessories, with American Fashion: Designers at Home, American Fashion Cookbook and American Fashion Travel: Designers on the Go the latest editions to the library.
Kolb is chief architect of the CFDA’s 50th anniversary plans taking shape for 2012. These include Impact: 50 Years of the CFDA, an exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology showcasing the history and significance of CFDA members’ work from the organization’s founding in 1962 through today. A book of the same name will be published by Abrams. Most significantly, Kolb is spearheading a 50th anniversary fundraising campaign designed to create a permanent endowment for the organization.
In his work with the CFDA Foundation, Kolb manages Fashion Targets Breast Cancer, a global breast cancer initiative which to date has raised and distributed more $40 million. He has been a key player in the ongoing 7th on Sale initiative, an industry-wide event that has raised almost $20 million for the New York City AIDS Fund. In addition he is a liaison with the Fund to determine distribution of monies raised. He can also be credited with the 2007 establishment of the CFDA Health Initiative, directly addressing the concerns of model health in the fashion industry. Kolb mobilized the industry in 2010 to raise $1 million for victims of the Haiti earthquake and again in 2011 to raise $400,000 for Japan earthquake and tsunami survivors.
Prior to the CFDA, Kolb worked at MTV International as the founding Executive Director of the Staying Alive Foundation. In that role, he worked with the Board of Directors to create a new organization with a global mission to encourage and enable young people and youth groups who are involved in direct HIV and AIDS awareness, education and prevention campaigns. Under his leadership, the Staying Alive Foundation received IRS status as a non-profit, launched cause-related marketing programs, and funded 25 young people and four youth groups in 17 countries.
Before joining MTV, Kolb was the Senior Associate Director of DIFFA, the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS. Utilizing a for-profit business approach in fund-raising, he helped bring in millions of dollars though high-profile events and partnerships with major corporations, and developed industry percentage-of-sale efforts and royalty programs. In addition to raising funds, Kolb managed all grant-making for the organization and was responsible for making recommendations on $1 million in yearly grants to approximately 50 HIV/AIDS prevention and service organizations.
Prior to DIFFA Kolb worked in development at the American Cancer Society.
Steven Kolb has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications form Glassboro State College and a Master in Public Administration from New York University.