The Launchmetrics 5 Questions With… interview series provides a way to connect leaders from the fashion, luxury, and beauty industries, and gives a platform for them to share their best advice and expertise. For our second episode of the series, we conducted a fashion industry interview with Marc Karimzadeh, Editorial and Communications Director at Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).
Prior to joining the CFDA near the start of 2015, Marc Karimzadeh, 47, worked at fashion trade newspaper Women’s Wear Daily as well as W magazine for 15 years, covering the global fashion industry and fashion weeks in New York, Milan, and Paris as a reporter and editor. A native of Hamburg, Germany, he graduated from Brown University (BA) and King’s College London (MA). Marc currently lives in New York with his husband Whitney Robinson and their truffle-hunting dog Tartufo.
Interview with Marc Karimzadeh, Editorial and Communications Director at Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)
1. What do you love about your job?
There’s so much about my job that I love that it’s hard to really put it together in a few words. But I grew up always loving the fashion industry and so in my career, I’ve always made sure that what I do is tied to the creativity of this industry – and that inspires me every day. What I love about my job specifically is that I still get to work very closely with some of the best American designers and really learn from them, feel inspired by them and be connected to an industry that I just absolutely love and always wanted to be a part of.
2. How has the industry changed since you began your career?
I started my career in the fashion industry in the mid-1990s, so so much has changed since. Obviously at the time when I started my career there was no social media. I remember working for a magazine and we had one computer with internet access for the entire staff. And so I think the whole process of doing work has changed – that’s on a micro-level. On a macro level, I think the industry has been more driven by brands versus young designers. I think it is more difficult now to build a brand because the retail landscape has changed so much.
Specifically in America, where I think so much of the business was based around department stores – that I’ve seen shift immensely. And so it is almost more challenging, perhaps for young, aspiring designers, to leave their mark and build a business quickly because you have to take so much more into account than you did before.
3. Launching products and collections has been challenging for everyone during the pandemic lockdown. What lessons have you learned from this new virtual world we had to adapt to?
The rapid outbreak of the COVID pandemic has really impacted our industry in severe ways. And I think on a very general level, every designer, every retailer, every editor, every buyer, had to be able to pivot very quickly and pivot on a frequent basis. You couldn’t settle into a comfort zone because you were just hit with new challenges on a consistent basis. Having said that, I think that for everyone in the industry, we have to learn very quickly to be completely digital savvy, to get to our consumers, to get to our partners, to get to our creative outlets through different digital channels and feel comfortable doing that.
In some ways, I think, and we certainly said this before COVID, the fashion industry, which is so led by trends and so forward thinking, in some ways who’s always lagged behind when it came to digital innovation. And so I think this kind of pushed us into the future of our industry by force, which is not a bad thing.
4. If you had a magic wand and could create one tool that would help the fashion industry, what would it be?
If I could create a digital wand to help improve business in the fashion industry, it would probably still be something that’s very traditional, which is to perfect the idea of fit.
I think that at the end of the day we tend to be very focused on design, which is very important. But I strongly and firmly believe that if the fit is not right, the consumer is not going to come back to you. And if there was some way to just go like this, and create the perfect fit for the consumer, I think that could solve a lot of business problems. And deliveries, of course, that should be on time. It’s a very traditional way of thinking but I do think that at the end of the day, we all look at fashion for solutions. We want our clothes to make us look better, to hide some of our insecurities, to make us feel better about ourselves, to make us love ourselves. And so I think that the fit is a big thing.
It’s like a magic wand. If I was in a store and I said I’m looking for a pair of trousers that make my legs look longer than they are and I could just go like this – here you go, and here they are. I’d be coming back for more every day of the week, I’d be buying more trousers!
5. What is one tip you would give to your younger self?
If I had to give myself a tip, my younger self, it would be something that’s not specific to the fashion industry, but it’s specific to just I think careers in general, which is, everything will fall into place in your 30s – don’t become impatient in your 20s.
When I was in my early 20s I graduated from college and I just started feeling so restless because things didn’t happen fast enough, and I thought that my career was not heading anywhere. I thought that in my life… I had so many questions about life in general. And something happened in my 30s where, all of a sudden, I knew I was going to be alright. And things were going to be fine. And granted I was very blessed with a beautiful career and I had all my dreams come true, but had I not persevered, and had I not had really the luxury of being able to persevere, I probably would not have gone as far as I did. Because there are so many questions and insecurities and that’s just part of being young.
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