NEW YORK — U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is rounding up 30 fashion insiders to air their industry concerns during a closed-door meeting Monday at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
The hour-long meeting is meant to be more of a brainstorming session than a town hall-type setting and will be co-hosted by FIT’s Joyce Brown. The guest list includes Elie Tahari, Rachel Roy, Nanette Lepore, Prabal Gurung, the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Steven Kolb, Lord & Taylor’s Brendan Hoffman, the New York City Economic Development Corp.’s Madelyn Wils and others.
Without a formal set agenda, Gillibrand will offer some opening remarks and then encourage others at the conference table to chime in about the industry. A spokesman for the junior senator from New York said Friday, “She wants to support the fashion industry as a whole so that New York remains the fashion capital of the world.”
Although job creation and economic growth are the senator’s top concerns, other issues, such as the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Act, will be broached, the spokesman said. Last year, Gillibrand cosponsored that bill, which was unanimously passed but now must be reintroduced to the new Congress. Ensuring that small businesses have access to capital is another area of interest, the spokesman said.
Known for her straight-to-the-source style, Gillibrand held a similar roundtable discussion with Montauk fishermen, boat captains and marina owners last summer. In recent months, she has shown interest in an ongoing involvement in the fashion industry. Vogue recently ran a profile of Gillibrand, noting how the 44-year-old has lost 40-plus pounds — dropping from a size 16 to a 6 — since taking office two years ago. There was also mention of how her Fashion’s Night Out festivities included some impromptu swing dancing at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Inside the Beltway, the Albany native has been seen wearing clothes from Elie Tahari and Nanette Lepore, two Garment District-supporting designers whom she has become acquainted with through her job. By chance, another one of Monday’s attendees has admired her from afar. In an interview with The Huffington Post earlier this month, Gurung pegged Gillibrand as the one woman he would most like to dress.