Making a Difference

The CFDA Celebrates Black History Month

For Black History Month, the CFDA honors three of its African American members with a video series to raise the visibility of their contributions to the fashion industry.

In celebration of Black History Month, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) is spotlighting three of its African American members—Jeffrey Banks, Tracy Reese, and Public School’s Maxwell Osbourne—in a video series “to raise visibility about the contributions African Americans are currently making to the American Fashion Industry.”

Washington DC-native Jeffrey Banks moved to New York City at age 17 to attend college and work as Ralph Lauren's design assistant. He later went on to work for Calvin Klein before starting his own eponymous menswear brand in 1978 at the age of 25. Banks established himself in the fashion industry with his vintage-style tailoring, classic neckwear and accessories, and most importantly, the furs he designed for men. André Leon-Talley described Banks's furs as "so smart and tailored that some women want to wear them.” His innovative approach to classic dressing earned Banks two Coty Awards—one for Outstanding Menswear, the other for Mens Furs—a Cutty Sark U.S. Menswear Designer of the Year Award, an Earnie Award for boyswear, and the Pratt Award for Design Excellence.In his video for the CFDA, Banks discusses his childhood in Washington D.C., how his experience in the industry helped him establish his brand, and his advice for budding designers, which includes “try to get a business education because fashion is a business.”

The three videos will launch on on February 18, 19, and 20, respectively.