WWD: Peter Arnold: Leading Fashion to Its Future Talent

The executive director of the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund shares how his multifaceted experiences have shaped his leadership style.

Women’s Wear Daily - By WWD Staff

Peter Arnold’s path to the executive director role at the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund is rich with many diverse experiences. The executive skills learned in each role prepared Arnold to tackle greater challenges. As part of an ongoing series of executive interviews, Tim Boerkoel, founder of global executive search and consulting firm The Brownestone Group, talks with Arnold about leadership, his role at the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund and how curiosity and empathy converge to “get things done.”

Tim Boerkoel: Peter, you’ve led teams in a variety of environments, ranging from designer brands to philanthropic organizations. Last November, you were named executive director of the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF). What drew you to this opportunity?

Peter Arnold: I’ve had a nonlinear career path, starting with my time as a lawyer, and then my tenure at the CFDA, followed by years in the industry as the president or chief executive officer of a number of apparel brands. As disparate as those experiences might have been, they do seem to make me uniquely suited for the role of executive director of the Fashion Scholarship Fund. (The search firm that contacted me called me a “unicorn” candidate). The organization has a pure and clear mission that is closely aligned with my personal mission, which is to help young talent succeed. It was a serendipitous opportunity.

The Fashion Scholarship Fund has long-standing relationships with over 60 colleges and universities. We give well over $1 million to approximately 200 students annually. In addition, each of the student scholarship recipients gets a mentor, each is placed in an internship, and equally important, after graduation, we continue to provide professional development and support through a very robust alumni network.

The CFDA, the NRF Foundation and a few other organizations in our industry give scholarships to a select number of students from a select number of schools. But there is no other organization in the

U.S. with the breadth and depth of service to young fashion talent as the FSF. We are the foremost fashion-oriented education and workforce development nonprofit in the U.S.

With such an estimable cause and such a straightforward mission, I am fortunate to leverage the professional experiences that I’ve had to date and apply them to a role that allows me to amplify the good work the FSF has done for the past 82 years. But, now it is time to contemporize it, make more noise about it, lead the conversation about what it means to identify and foster and nurture young talent, and connect the dots for that talent — by showing students, so often from small public and private colleges and universities, the way forward in our industry.

There are many talented students out there, and they are pursuing not just design, but merchandising, marketing and analytics, supply chain, and other disciplines. It’s a talent pool that is going to enrich our industry and move it forward. To add some perspective, the FSF was started in 1937 by a group of men’s wear businessmen from Seventh Avenue. And it has evolved, and the industry has evolved. Today, there’s an opportunity to become much more — to include among its constituent employers and supporters — the breadth of what our industry now represents: categories such as beauty and home, and more innovative, digitally native businesses.

T.B.: And did any particular previous experience prepare you to tackle the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities that exist at YMA FSF?

P.A.: I started my career as a corporate lawyer, and so my perspective has always been a transactional one. At the outset of any opportunity with a client, or working group of parties, often with competing interests, the challenge is to identify their respective aims and aspirations and tailor a strategy (in this context, a deal) to deliver (through lots of negotiations and documentation) the expected result. That learning was applicable to the CFDA. Albeit a different context, it involved soliciting opinions, identifying and being respectful of sensitivities, and crafting and moving an initiative forward in such a way that the designers and other stakeholders felt that the “deal” delivered on what they had contemplated.

The process was similar with the creative founder owners I’ve worked with over the years. Partnering with an incredibly dynamic creative may mean taking 10 ideas and distilling them down to four executable ones, then delivering a reasonable business result. My training as a corporate transactional partner at Sidley Austin served me well. As with clients and other folks around the table, such as bankers and accountants, it was important to listen, be empathetic, and understand the various aims of the stakeholders — all of which enables one to move the transaction forward. It really boils down to having the ability to listen while also having a “creative feel” that you are relating to what he or she is imagining. And then to have the business and process acumen that allows for execution and delivery of a desired result.

For example, Cynthia Rowley was an “idea factory,” and I mean that as a great compliment. She’d arrive in the morning with 20 amazing ideas written in Sharpie on her hand and arm. My challenge was to edit those 20 into 10 possibly executable ones and then, perhaps three real on-brand ideas. That’s still a potent alchemy — a successful creator founder needs to have a good “marriage” with his or her business partner.

T.B.: When it comes to leading a small organization with great reach, can you share your approach to motivating diverse entities — from students to executives, brands to colleges — to drive tangible outcomes?

P.A.: The FSF is indeed a small organization with great reach. I seem to have always worked with organizations and brands, which had halos bigger than their actual businesses. I love that challenge. I love the breadth and diversity of constituencies. Now I’m dealing with 60 colleges and universities, the educators on those campuses with whom we’ve had long-standing relationships with, and, in turn, their and our constituents — the students they’ve identified are most likely to be the “best and brightest.” We are seeking to add more schools and students to that mix. We are engaging employer partners that speak to the wide range of our students’ aspirations. That’s why a partnership with The Lead, for example (which is associated with the 100 most innovative new businesses, and is working with us to procure internships for our scholars) is so exciting.

As I mentioned, it is an exciting time in the world of talent identification and acquisition. I’ve had many on-campus conversations with students, educators and administrators, as well as with employers. We are having critical discussions about diversity and inclusion, and how to ensure that our workforce accurately reflects the population. There are students of color, students who are first-generation, students at risk — these are the constituents I want to include in these conversations.

This means we need to provide opportunities, support, nurture and foster at a very early moment in a student’s career so that companies such as Kering and LVMH, and Tapestry and Capri can rightfully consider, not just the amazing graduates of private design schools, but students we work with at HBCU’s and public colleges and universities. We are uniquely suited to framing these discussions and delivering on programs that effectuate these aims — that’s what will make FSF in the vanguard on these topics.

T.B.: Does a leader lead differently at a brand compared to at a philanthropic or another type of organization?

P.A.: Being a really effective leader requires a creative empathy and a versatility and nimbleness — whatever the leadership context demands. My years as a partner in a law firm, the executive director of the CFDA, the ceo/president of a number of fashion brands, and now the executive director of the FSF

— have given me a bit of fashion world view, and a context, that provides for the dynamism that I hope I bring to the role. I have different constituents now, but I still look at everyone as a client — much like I did years ago when I was a corporate lawyer. When I talk about empathy, versatility or nimbleness, I mean, how can I listen effectively, really hear a young student talking about his or her dreams, meaningfully advise a graduate on her nascent business idea, leverage the relationship and reach of a board member, meet with a prospective corporate partner and forge a mutually beneficial programmatic initiative, all in the pursuit of advancing the FSF’s mission.

T.B.: You are intimately connected to the realities of tomorrow’s leaders, understanding their educational backgrounds and the generation’s approach to life and work. How do you get smart on this, and how are you helping the industry understand the talent of the future?

P.A.: Our organization is uniquely situated — we have a powerful array of corporate supporters and board members who come from all industries, sectors and channels of distribution. I spend a great deal of my time on campuses meeting with students and educators and administrators — hearing what they’re teaching and studying and also what they imagine the world holds for them. Marrying that learning and those expectations to the reality of an industry that is changing so rapidly mandates a breadth of understanding that I think serves our mission quite well. I’m insatiably curious about this industry and where it’s headed and what it means to be an innovator — what has worked and doesn’t seem to work for brands, for retailers, for wholesalers. It’s an incredibly exciting, albeit challenging time. That creates the dynamism I’m talking about.

T.B.: As you are modernizing how the foundation develops the next generation of industry talent, I would like to ask, who were some of your mentors?

P.A.: When I started working at Davis Polk & Wardwell, Lawrence Walsh — former U.S. deputy attorney general, ambassador to the Paris Peace Talks, Iran Contra investigator — was my legal hero, my boss and my mentor. He was a brilliant lawyer and he had an expectation of excellence of performance that raised the bar very high for me (and probably for anyone who has ever worked for me). Diane von Furstenberg took me under her wing even before I became the CFDA executive director. I consider myself very fortunate to have had her guide and educate me about the industry I was about to enter. Her sophisticated world vision is one that helped inform my years with the CFDA.

Anna Wintour’s enthusiasm for and commitment to doing something meaningful and impactful for the industry is also notable. My most pointed personal example was the morning in her office when she announced that Condé Nast would be contributing a considerable sum to form a fashion fund that Vogue and the CFDA would work on together — an unforgettable opportunity. Anna supported a lot of the work I did at the CFDA and really led me to what I’m doing now.

And I will always owe a debt of gratitude to Ralph Lauren. When I left the CFDA to join John Varvatos as his president, Ralph sat me down and explained to me (and cautioned me) that in his estimation I didn’t yet really understand the world of fashion because, in fact, I hadn’t really worked in it and that the best thing to do would be to spend some years at a smaller brand with a founder creative and really get trained in what it means to run a fashion business. That advice from Ralph (which led to eight years at Cynthia Rowley) was invaluable.

T.B.: Lastly, what can we expect from YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund in the near future? What has you most enthusiastic about the group and your place in it?

P.A.: This is such an exciting time for the FSF — everybody is talking about talent, and its composition and where to find it. We have incredible partner schools — fashion schools and other institutions that are educating and producing talent, not just in design and merchandising, but marketing/analytics and supply chain and other disciplines related to this industry. Partner schools such as FIT, Otis, Parsons and SCAD (with its SCADpro program) and Glasgow Caledonian are doing impressive professional development work with their undergraduates and graduates. I’m not sure “Project Runway” has served us well — not everyone can or should be a name designer. There are so many opportunities in this industry for the application of design and creative talent, as well as all the other disciplines that I mentioned for careers with traditional fashion and nontraditional fashion employers.

We are developing and executing a variety of programmatic opportunities to make sure that we provide a wide variety of compelling opportunities for individuals, corporations and foundations that support the good work we’ve done for 82 years and are now doing in even bigger, more exciting ways. We have an “accelerator program,” for example, through which we identify entrepreneurs with early-stage business ideas through our group of former scholarship winners. We fund them and provide mentorship — and that’s a great example of what I’m talking about. This year, SAP, a global good corporate citizen with a long-term strategy that aligns perfectly with our mission, has generously underwritten the accelerator grant program. That work is super exciting, and delivers, in an innovative way, on the promise of our mission to foster and nurture young talent.

Our organization is committed to making sure that we are attracting a capable and diverse group of students. I am so pleased that we are expanding our reach as we are deepening our association and relationship with schools, students and potential employers. And we are enhancing the talent pool with highly qualified students who might otherwise have been overlooked. Simply put, that is our future. And I’d argue that’s the future of the industry.

Source: https://wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-featu...

WWD: FSF Alumni Compete for SAP-Funded Grant

Earlier this week, the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund kicked off its accelerator grant program with a “pitch night” competition, which was hosted at SAP’s Innovator Lab in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards.

The YMA FSF is the “largest and oldest scholarship organization serving the needs of the fashion industry,” and has connected more than 65 partnership schools with 1.2 million in funding. Similar to a reality show, “Shark Tank,” four presenters, (who are all FSF alumni) pitched their nascent businesses on stage to a panel of judges, as well as an attending audience.

It marks the first event convening of all the stakeholders; be it mentors, sponsoring organizations (such as SAP, Macy’s and PVH) with FSF students, in one room. The four presenters are all applicants in the grant program, competing for the $50,000 award, which is underwritten by SAP. The contestants showcased a range of product category innovation and funding needs.

The FSF is still accepting applications until the grant program closes on April 30. Applications are then reviewed, and finalists will present to a panel of judges on June 12. One of the aims of the event was to build awareness of the program with other alums. The judging panel included Anushka Salinas, chief revenue officer of Rent the Runway; Laurel Pantin, fashion features director at InStyle; Meghan Cross Breeden, partner at Amplifyher Ventures; and Waris Ahluwalia, designer at House of Waris. Mary Alice Stephenson, founder of Glam4Good, moderated the event.

The competitors during the event all praised the FSF and its mentorship. Participant Jameel Mohammed, who is founder and chief executive office of luxury jewelry line Khiry, which is inspired by the African Diaspora, said the FSF has been “incredibly instrumental in my development thus far.”

Other competitors included Francesca Skwark, founder and ceo of Checka, an ath-leisure loungewear line, Nicholas Lee, cofounder of Arturo, a marketplace for global artisan goods, and Madalyn Manzeck, founder of Madalyn Joy Designs, a bespoke lingerie line based in Wisconsin.

FSF aims to procure and develop top student talent throughout their journey, and doing so with a nationwide footprint, providing undue opportunity to schools lacking connection to major fashion markets. “I don’t think kids always know, and I don’t think organizations always teach,” said Peter Arnold, the FSF’s new executive director, who joins FSF with executive leadership experience at the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Cushnie et Ochs, and prior Cynthia Rowley.

Joining FSF only four months ago, Arnold plans to build on the pitch night event to continue “connecting the dots” throughout the continuum for talented students and the fashion and tech companies — such as SAP — seeking their placement.

Source: https://wwd.com/business-news/technology/f...

MR: Inside this Year’s Record Breaking YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Awards Dinner

by Karen Alberg Grossman Jan 11, 2019

What a fabulous night for the fashion industry and fashion design/merchandising students across the country. At a record-breaking dinner (1500 attendees, plus an extra $100,000 generated by a live auction) at the NY Hilton, honorees spoke of the tremendous contribution that young people are making to our industry. Past scholarship winners spoke with emotion about how their scholarship changed their lives, giving them internships and opportunities that would not have happened otherwise.

The 2019 scholars who received either $15,000 or $35,000 awards were: Maxine Britt (U of Minnesota), Rachel Davis (U of Cincinnati), Jennifer Junker (Iowa State University), Jeremy Kalteux (U of Georgia), Viviana Martinez (U of Texas at Austin), Isabella Mendez (Savannah College of Art and Design), Sydney Silver (Academy of Art University) and Javier Uriegas (U of Texas at Austin).

Industry honorees were Ryan Seacrest, Martha Stewart and Hal Lawton, all of whom spoke beautifully about the growing importance of fashion in the world. Seacrest, claiming to be daunted by the size of the crowd as opposed to his television audience, pointed out that current disruption in the retail world is actually a good thing, creating excitement and opportunity for today’s trailblazers. Stewart, speaking with unexpected humor and humility, talked not only about living creatively with style but also about the value of education as “not preparation for life but as life itself.” Lawton, who wisely eschewed any mention of yesterday’s stock market prices, noted that of all the industries out there, fashion leads in terms of diversity and inclusion.

YMA, now in its 82nd year, proudly printed their stats on the Awards program: more than $1,100,000 awarded annually, 200+ scholarship recipients from 60+ colleges and universities, 100% summer internship placements, 100+ corporate recruitment partners, 1000+ fashion industry mentors and an alumni community of more than 2,000. For more info or to get involved: ymafsf.org; 212-278-0008.

WWD: FSF Rasies $3.5 Million for Scholarships

Students Night Out: FSF Raises $3.5 Million for Scholarships  Martha Stewart, Ryan Seacrest and Macy's Hal Lawton were honored  on the evening.  By David Moin on January 11, 2019

There’s a need for new talent in the fashion business but the issue is being addressed.  On Thursday, in one of those crowded, feel­good, chicken­dinner industry events, 1,500 retail and fashion  executives raised $3.5 million for the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund, at the organization’s   benefit  , held  at the Hilton New York.    This year’s top eight student finalists, together with over 200 scholarship recipients, were celebrated at  YMA’s 82nd annual scholarship gala. The guests of honor were Hal Lawton, Macy’s Inc. president, who  received the “retailer of the year” award; Ryan Seacrest received the “style icon of the year” award, and  Martha Stewart received the “lifetime achievement” award.    The two big scholarship winners were Jennifer Junker of Iowa State University and Isabella Mendez from  Savannah College of Art & Design. They each won $35,000.

Stewart recapped her multidimensional career as a stylemaker, a designer, TV celebrity, author, Wall  Street executive and as a model posing for numerous photographers, one of which she singled out. “I  should have married Frank Coburn.” She said she’s published more than 90 books. “My autobiography  will be my 100th. I don’t know when it will happen, but it will happen.”  Her advice to the scholarship winners: “Never stop learning. Never stop reading. Never stop looking  forward and never stop trying…Stoke your curiosity, absorb technology and take calculated risks. Never  foolish chances.”    And she had some pragmatic advice to the aspiring fashion designers in the crowd: “Clothes have to be  well made, fit, serve a purpose, feel good and have to last.”  “I still consider myself a bit of a novice in this world,” said Seacrest. But he said he got into the fashion  business “driven by business opportunity and a long­time fascination with fashion…I just wanted to feel  good in my clothes.”    “Ryan is dapper, well­groomed, modern but not ultra­modern and very approachable. He wants to be the  fashion curator for young Americans so they can always dress well for an occasion,” said David Katz,  vice president and chief marketing officer of Randa, which co­created the Ryan Seacrest Distinction  men’s collection with Seacrest. The collection is sold at hundreds of Macy stores exclusively.    Among those at the event: William Susman, Peter Sachse and Michael Setola, president, chairman and  treasurer, respectively of the YMA. Also spotted: Gary Sheinbaum, John Tighe, Liz Rodbell, Abbey  Doneger, Tom Burns, Karen Murray, Morris Goldfarb, Sam Haddad, Danielle DiFerdinando and a bevy of  Macy’s executives including Jeff Gennette, Paula Price, Justin McFarland, and Marc Mastronardi, who  serves as vice president of the YMA.   

Peter Arnold, executive director of the Fashion Scholarship Fund, said, “I’ve been on the job just eight  weeks now, but I’ve learned the YMA is changing young people’s lives in profound ways.”

Source: https://wwd.com/business-news/marketing-pr...

Peter Arnold Named Executive Director of the Fashion Scholarship Fund

The YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting education and career placement in the fashion arts and business, has announced that it has named Peter Arnold as executive director. Arnold previously served as executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and as CEO of fashion brands Cynthia Rowley and Cushnie et Ochs. The premier educational nonprofit in the United States, FSF grants the largest amount and number of scholarships to the fashion community annually.

Arnold has spent much of his career in senior management positions in the fashion space, having also served as president at John Varvatos. He has dedicated significant time in service to various nonprofit organizations throughout his career. After receiving his JD from the New York University School of Law, he spent five years volunteering and, as a Board and Executive Committee member, leading initiatives for GMHC, the nation’s leading provider of HIV/AIDS services, while working as a corporate transactional partner for law firm Sidley Austin.

“Peter is a proven champion of the next generation of leaders in fashion, and we’re thrilled to have him join our organization,” said William Susman, president of FSF. “His dedication to philanthropic organizations, combined with his deep knowledge and experience at the helm of major fashion brands as well as of the CFDA, make him the ideal leader to execute our mission.”

Marc Mastronardi, vice president of FSF, added, “While at the CFDA, Peter led the organization’s charitable arm, working closely with leading design schools and companies to provide substantive support to young designers. His broad experience across fashion and philanthropy will be key to his success in guiding FSF’s initiatives.”

“I’m honored to join the nation’s preeminent fashion educational nonprofit,” commented Arnold. “I’ve long been attracted to FSF’s mission of supporting students studying not just design, but all aspects of fashion commerce, and I’m thrilled to bring my knowledge and experience to a team focused on funding and supporting emerging talent in the fashion space.”

FSF will host its 82nd Annual Scholarship Awards dinner on January 10, 2019, at the New York Hilton Midtown. The event will honor Martha Stewart, Ryan Seacrest and Macy’s president Hal Lawton, and the organization expects to award scholarships to over 200 students representing 65 different schools across the country.

Source: https://mr-mag.com/peter-arnold-named-exec...

WWD | Alumni Dream Grant Winner Announced

Thistle & Spire is a women's lingerie brand Chen founded with a college friend, Maggie Bacon.

By Jean E. Palmieri on July 17, 2018

The YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund has expanded beyond its roots offering scholarships by establishing a grant program and has identified its first winner. 
 Called the FSF Alumni Dream Grant, the first $50,000 prize will be awarded to Lily Chen, a former scholarship winner from the Fashion Institute of Technology and cofounder of Thistle & Spire, a women’s lingerie brand. 
 In June of 2017, FSF announced the expansion of its portfolio of scholarships to include the $50,000 equity-free Alumni Dream Grant as a way to find, mentor and support the people it has identified as top talent in the industry. Chen, was chosen by the Alumni Association’s vetting panel based on the viability of her idea, growth potential, development and vision, progress evaluation and brand fit. 
 Marc Mastronardi, Macy’s Inc. executive vice president of new business development and innovation and an FSF vice president, oversees the program and said, “All of us who care and are invested in the future of fashion need to continue to identify the next generation of leadership and give them the support they need to succeed.” 
 Thistle & Spire was founded by Chen and Maggie Bacon, who met at FIT. “Maggie and I cofounded Thistle & Spire because we both saw the power in lingerie,” she said. “As young women, it helped us find confidence, not as something we purchase to wear for other people, but for ourselves. 
 “It’s been a lot of hard work, but thrilling to watch our company grow,” Chen added. “As someone who was not confident growing up, the brand allows me to help other women find their confidence through lingerie. After all, there is nothing more unstoppable than an army of confident women.” 
 The FSF traces its roots to 1937 and has awarded more than $12 million in scholarships over that time.

Source: https://wwd.com/fashion-news/intimates/lil...

JUST JARED | Danielle Brooks & Pregnant Coco Rocha Attend Fashion Scholarship Fund Dinner

Danielle Brooks strikes a pose as she arrives at the 2018 Fashion Scholarship Fund Dinner on Tuesday night (January 9) at the Marriott Marquis Times Square Hotel in New York City.

The 28-year-old Orange is the New Black star looked super chic a faux fur coat over a black dress as she stepped out for the event.

PHOTOS: Check out the latest pics of Danielle Brooks

Joining Danielle at the event was pregnant model Coco Rocha along with designer Christian Siriano and his husband Brad Walsh.

Source: http://www.justjared.com/2018/01/10/daniel...

Dandy in the Bronx | 2018 Gala Awards Dinner

EVENTS, Fashion

by DiegoJanuary 9, 201810:07 PM

2018 YMA FASHION SCHOLARSHIP FUND AWARDS

 

The 81st Annual Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) National Merit Scholarship Awards Dinner celebrated and awarded nearly $1.4 million in scholarships to the 2018 FSF class and eight National Merit Scholarship finalists, who come from the top programs at universities and colleges nationwide. Let’s check out the event!

Dedicated to promoting education of the fashion arts and business

The Fashion Scholarship Fund is a national non-profit organization made up of influential members of the fashion community. Dedicated to promoting education of the fashion arts and business, the FSF grants scholarships to talented students and facilitates internships, mentorships, and career programs.

honorees

Tonight’s honorees were Christian Siriano, American Fashion Designer and Author of “Dresses to Dream About,” Kenneth J. Wyse, President of Licensing and PR at PVH Corp., Katia Beauchamp, Co-Founder and CEO of Birchbox and Stephen Sadove Former Chairman & CEO of Saks, Inc.

The night’s guests also included IMG Model, Coco Rocha, “Orange Is The New Black” Actress, Danielle Brooks, Model and Founder of Project Start, Candice Huffine.

As part of the evening, honorees Christian Siriano, Kenneth J. Wyse, Katia Beauchamp and Stephen Sadove were acknowledged for their generous contributions to the fashion industry with Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Wholesaler of the Year, Fashion Innovators of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award, respectively. All proceeds from the evening will be donated to the Fashion Scholarship.

Thanks FSF for having me!

Source: http://dandyinthebronx.com/2018-annual-fas...