The BoF Podcast | Stan Herman on a Lifetime in Fashion



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Background

Stan Herman may be 95 years old, but the designer, activist and former president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America remains an unstoppable force. His recent memoir, “Uncross Your Legs: A Life in Fashion” details his journey through the American fashion industry, including bringing New York Fashion Week to Bryant Park.

This week on The BoF Podcast, Herman joins BoF founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed to reflect on his remarkable life and career, and to talk about how big business has changed the fashion industry.

“With so much money being floated out there, it’s changed the whole nature of the business,” he says.”Once we anointed designers as superstars, once big business and Wall Street put their cashmere gloves on, fashion was not the same.”

Key Insights

  • Herman, who grew up in a Jewish family in New Jersey, traces his initial interest in fashion to his parents. His father owned a number of silk stores. His mother died when he was only 12 years old, but in writing his book he discovered that she was a talented seamstress. “I found things about her that I had never known. How she sewed, how she made patterns on the floor, how she knew how to cut a bias dress,” he recalls. “We didn’t have very much money at the time and she made lots of house dresses that she lived in.”
  • Herman’s career includes stints designing ready-to-wear under the label Mr. Mort and creating uniforms for America’s largest corporations. “I lived this life of a designer with an intellectual school teacher and I plotted my life,” he says. “I worked for eight years in companies, then I was first a third designer, second designer. I learned the hard way.”
  • In 1991, Herman became the president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, a position he held for 16 years. During his time at the CFDA, New York Fashion Week was born, initially staged in a cluster of white tents in Bryant Park. “That park has become for me my life in New York,” he said. “It’s never been the same since they left Bryant Park. But that’s okay, things do change.”

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