This article is part of a series of interviews conducted by LIM College students with members of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). Students are enrolled in Fashion Merchandising Professor Andrea Kennedy's Introduction to the Fashion Business class.
Our Introduction to the Fashion Business class visited the CFDA to interview the Vice President of Marketing, Mark Beckham. We learned about his journey through the industry and his day-to-day life at the CFDA.
When we asked Mr. Beckham what a typical day was like for him, his initial response was that there is never a typical day. He has a lot on his plate but continues to achieve a lot with the CFDA. To give an understanding of the tasks he accomplishes in a single day, he told us his agenda for that day. That day, he oversaw plans for New York Fashion Week: approving pre-collections, scheduling shows, planning upcoming events, following up with clients and meeting with committees, and writing thank you notes to guests who attended their latest event.
Beckham finds satisfaction in being able to contribute to the CFDA’s mission of creating a strong American fashion economy. Helping to strengthen the fashion industry by mentoring young designers and helping them establish businesses helps him feel good about his job. One of the most cherished parts of his job is working with recipients of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund (CVFF) award because it ties together the mission of the CFDA and brings to light new designers.
Beckham told us he had an interest in fashion ever since working at a department store in high school back in Ohio. After receiving his degree in Political Science and Latin American Studies, he moved to New York. He worked for Condé Nast and Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids (DIFFA), a nonprofit, before he found the CFDA, which bundled all of his passions together. Having a diverse background of jobs taught him how to be “scrappy” and make it in the fashion industry.
Regarding the challenges of marketing the CFDA and keeping campaigns exciting and relevant, Beckham explained how important it is to know the intended audience. He also mentioned how today’s social and digital platforms work to the CFDA’s advantage. The marketing department spreads their message through events and public relations. For example, using Facebook to live stream the CFDA Awards—the organization’s biggest marketing event—was a way to include many more people in the event. Nonpaid media is also very important to the CFDA because they are a nonprofit organization.
When we asked what inspired him about fashion today, Beckham answered, “What is the scariest!” without hesitation. He really enjoys the risk of the industry. Beckham spoke about how the old rules, in place prior to social media, are falling away. Smaller businesses that are starting out are inspirational to Beckham—he knows they won’t be afraid to take a risk.
Ten years from now, Beckham sees fashion being a strong, sustainable, technologically advanced, fur-free industry. He expects to see clothing that measures heart rate and shirts that make us sweat less. He expressed a strong passion for sustainability and how it will become the future of fashion. He believes the carbon footprint left by making a garment will shrink tremendously with the help of better relationships between factories and retailers.
When asked what advice he had for us as fashion students, Mr. Beckham advised us to take all of the opportunities that New York City offers. Between fashion events, pop-up stores, and museums, we should always be exploring, expanding our minds, and finding inspiration for our fashion careers.