cfda president

Diane von Furstenberg: 'Immigrants are American fashion'

Diane von Furstenberg insists “immigrants” are part of the fabric of America’s fashion history.

The Belgian-born designer and president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) was one of several speakers - including CFDA president and CEO Steven Kolb, Fwd.us president Todd Schulte, and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney - at a press conference in New York on Monday (10Apr17), to relay the findings of a joint report by the CFDA and lobbying organisation Fwd.us.

The CFDA are calling on the U.S. government to roll back on immigration policies which are having a negative impact on the fashion industry, and von Furstenberg, 70, shared her own story of success.

“In the 1970s, I arrived to New York with a suitcase full of little dresses,” von Furstenberg said, reported Footwear News. “The soul and beauty of this great nation clung to me then and provided me with the opportunity to build a global fashion business and become the woman I wanted to be.“

However, the designer shared her fears that emerging fashion stars would “no longer have the same opportunity to come to the U.S. and succeed,” like others have in the past.

“I have built my brand around the world with the help of many immigrants who share my dream,” she explained. “Just listen to the mosaic of languages in showrooms and backstage at fashion shows: Immigrants are American fashion.”

The CFDA has acted in response to President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration which prevents free entry to America from seven Muslim-majority countries in January (17). The move garnered heavy criticism from executives such as Nike CEO Mark Parker and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and designers including Kenneth Cole and Naeem Khan.

The report has found a growing concern among fashion executives about their ability to hire and retain foreign workers, and that the existing immigration policies could have a long-term, negative impact on the creativity of fashion.

“Like Diane, when talented immigrants come to the United States to work in fashion, they bring new businesses and creative ideas that create jobs for native-born Americans,” CFDA president Kolb added. “If the United States wants to lead the world in fashion innovation, we need immigration policies that embrace the talented foreigners who come here to build and grow.”

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