Abstract: The Fashion Group: Women and Business in 1930s New York

Rebecca Arnold

Abstract

Established in 1931, the Fashion Group set out to professionalize women's role within the fashion industry and to assert fashion's importance within the wider cultural, social, and economic sphere. Its membership comprised a collective of executive women from a wide cross-section of the New York fashion world. Its meetings reflected the industry's concerns, from its reactions to the Depression to debates on merchandising in department stores. The Group's founder members wanted fashion, and women's role as creators and disseminators of fashion ideas, to be given greater validity. The Group sought to become not only a forum, but also a disseminatory apparatus, aiming to sharpen business practice in terms of the micro and the macro, from assisting young women just embarking on a fashion career, to improving America's fashion industry domestically and internationally. This paper will examine the early years of the Fashion Group's development. It will argue that the Fashion Group provided an arena in which women could assert their significance within the fashion industry. This was an important achievement given the negative attitudes still expressed in contemporary media about women's status and abilities within the business world.