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[READ] Fern Mallis Shares Her Story, Building a Life in Fashion

Fern Mallis’ story is truly a 30-year love affair with the industry. A native New Yorker, she was introduced to the garment district young, saying that she accompanied her father to New York’s garment center whenever she could. “I was wide eyed and fell in love with it,” she said last night as the latest to join STORY founder Rachel Shechtman for our “In Conversation” series.

“You don’t know that you’re learning while your doing it, it just becomes part of your body of knowledge.”

Credited with building New York Fashion Week into a global event in her role as president of the CFDA, Fern said she’s always followed her instincts and allowed the universe to lead. In college she studied communications and got her start in the fashion industry by winning a contest with Mademoiselle magazine.

“When my career started at “Mademoiselle” it was from winning a contest and I never really had a plan or strategy for my future. I always believed that it was just important to work hard wherever I was and the next opportunities would materialize.”

After a successful stint in PR, Fern moved to the CFDA – in many ways she says it was a natural jump. In 2010, Fern left IMG and entered the “coffee phase” of her career. Unsure of what she wanted to do next, an opportunity to create a conversation series with the 92Y fell into her lap. “My life has been as a cheerleader for the fashion industry,” she said. She launched the series with Norma Kamali and has since gone on to interview designers like Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, and Donna Karan. In April, nineteen of the interviews were compiled and released as a book by Rizzoli.

“Be nice, no one needs to do business with someone who isn’t nice.”

As for her favorite places to shop (she’s a good shopper,) Egg in London, Urban Zen, and Maxfields in LA. “It’s all about the service.”