About Us

The California Fashion Association (CFA) was organized in 1995, as a non-profit public benefit 501(c)(6) Corporation.  The CFA has now been the association for the apparel and textile community for 20 years.


The CFA was the outcome of Fashion Industry Round Table, hosted by then Mayor Richard Riordan. The meeting was in response to circumstances surrounding an egregious act of subverted labor law issues, commonly called the ‘El Monte Sweatshop’ incident.

At that meeting, participants agreed that an industry organization was necessary to answer the questions of the media and other groups, to gather significant statistics, on-going data, and instigate cooperative efforts with city, state, and federal officials investigating the incident, on behalf of the apparel & textile industry at large.

Ilse Metchek, then the General Manager of the California Mart, was designated to act as the temporary Executive Director of the newly formed California Fashion Association.  At the same time, Mr. Lonnie Kane, President and owner of the manufacturing firm, Karen Kane Corporation, volunteered to act as Chairman of the newly formed group.

Since then, the CFA has become a multi-pronged Association, dealing with all the significant issues affecting the apparel and textile industry of California. Ms. Metchek has subsequently assumed the Presidency of the California Fashion Association and has continued to grow the individual corporate memberships, with an outreach to allied associations globally. Mr. Kane is still the Chairman; the industry is clearly in his debt.

In 1999, the California Fashion Foundation was created “from the heart of the CFA” as the fund raising arm of the CFA. It is a non-profit (C-3) public benefit program that creates yearly events and fund raising opportunities for scholarships and other defined charities allied to the fashion industry.

Newsmaker: Ilse Metchek, President, California Fashion Association

By: Fashion Mannuscript

April 2019

No longer the ‘other coast’, the Los Angeles region is now a beacon for designers, retailers and global manufacturers

Presently, the biggest “thing” about L.A. is its fashion ‘heat’.

Yes, the region still has the largest cluster for domestic manufacturing facilities (albeit less than there used to be…for various reasons), the U.S.A.’s biggest retail market, the entertainment industry connection, and a vigorous art/cultural scene. That’s led to the growing number of designers proudly saying ‘I am a California designer”.

This sensibility shift to the West Coast has been happening for the past several years – so why does it seem that the fashion media and the financial gurus are just now starting to pay attention? With all the ‘noise’ about the disruption of the century old business model of manufacturer-to-buyer-to consumer, the new mantra of “the right offer for the right consumer in the right channel with the right voice” is in keeping with the type of fashion people want today; in-store and on-line!

New York will always be a corporate home for the monster multi-brand conglomerates and the publishing world, but Los Angeles is currently the eye of the storm for the latest in fashion, food and art.

In 2017, New York’s mayor announced plans to contribute $136 million to the creation of a “Made In New York” campus in Brooklyn to serve as an incubator for local garment production because the NYC garment industry lost 83% of manufacturing jobs in the last 30 years. After that, an alliance of the NY Economic Development Corporation, CFDA and the GDA promised another $51 million toward investments in technology, business development and grants for relocation (source, WWD May 2017). Yet momentum is still weak.

The largest slice of America’s apparel manufacturing is concentrated in Los Angeles, where, according to the latest 2019 Otis Creative Industry Report, over 80,000 people are still employed in the craft of apparel production….and this does not count the ‘other’ uncounted employment due to those new technologies necessary for success. Niche brands are proliferating and small-batch, vertically integrated, quick-turn production is merrily rolling along; however, large-scale cut-and-sew factories are much harder to find, and there is no government support at the city or state level.

Designers and brand owners realize that they can create a business model from anywhere; the city’s sprawling geography allows for plenty of breathing room, literally and creatively. A transplanted designer said : “Between having palm trees and blue skies and good bookstores and nice galleries, it’s a good place to think over what just happened in Europe or New York and get away from that narrow fashion crowd. The culture of L.A. is open and supportive, not just for a start-up but to commercialize new ideas.”

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