The Council of Fashion Designers of America, or CFDA for short, is a not-for-profit trade association for American based fashion and accessory designers. And if you're finding yourself still asking "But what is it?" don't feel silly. I had to do quite a bit of research myself to figure it out.
Founded in 1962 by Eleanor Lambert, a prominent fashion publicist of the time, the CFDA is intended to be an organization committed to furthering American fashion and providing support for budding and well established designers. It aims to educate both industry insiders and non-fashion folk regarding the business side of fashion and what it takes to succeed (and stay successful) in such a demanding field.
Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen accepting their award for Womenswear Designer(s) of the Year for their line The Row. The twin duo also won for womenswear in 2012 and accessories in 2014. image via Bustle.com
The organization offers a number of scholarships for high school, college, and postgrad students; hosts the CFDA Fashion Awards every year; and runs the CFDA/Vogue Fasion Fund competition in which young designers compete for a hefty cash prize and invaluable mentoring from an industry veteran of their choosing. Previous winners of the competition include Aurora James for Brother Vellies, Paul Andrew, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne for Public School, Joseph Altuzarra for Altuzarra, and Alexander Wang.
the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund 2015 finalists with some board members. image via Fashionista.com
In addition to the organization's educational endeavors, the CFDA has also held a number of charitable events supporting research and treatment for HIV/AIDS, sending relief to Haiti, Japan, and areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. In 1994 Ralph Lauren launched the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer program, which has since become a yearly event pulling in nearly $55 million to put towards breast cancer charities world wide.
So as you can see, the CFDA is no joke. It's influence reaches far beyond the borders of the U.S. and to be on it's Board of Directors is considered a huge honor. Diane von Furstenberg is the current CFDA President with her board consisting of fashion heavy hitters like Michael Kors, Vera Wang, Anna Wintour, Jenna Lyons, Tracy Reese, Tommy Hilfiger, and Ralph Lauren.
Fast Facts: - They have over 430,000 followers on twitter - At the 2013 CFDA Fashion Awards Hillary Clinton presented Oscar de la Renta with the Founder's Award, the highest honor of the night - The CFDA has collaborated with a number of designers on fashion and accessories lines at a variety of price points. Previous collaborators include Target, Gap, J.Crew, and Kohl's - The organization has published nine books