Eileen Fisher started her clothing line in 1984 with $350 in savings and a few design ideas inspired by the kimono. Thirty years later, her company is thriving. She has 67 stores across the U.S., Canada and the U.K., and she employs 1,200 people. Fisher supports women-run small businesses through grants and is collaborating with digital magazine TakePart to share the stories of 30 female entrepreneurs in a series called “In Her Company.”
Marketplace’s Adriene Hill talked to Fisher about the changes she’s seen in fashion and her company since she first began.
On how fashion has changed over the years:
What I’ve found that’s very interesting is that it’s sort of come full circle. We’re actually reproducing certain styles. We’re calling them icons that we did in the very first few lines that we designed.
We do watch the trends, and we do think a lot about how our concept of timeless design belongs to the moment, so there’s an attention to trend while keeping in mind what will be timeless about this particular moment in time.
On her customer base:
I’d like to say she’s ageless and timeless and really a broad customer. In the early days, I would say she was an artist or therapist, maybe a teacher because there’s a certain creativity in how people wear the clothes. You put them together in a lot of different ways and also the idea of being ourselves, and therapists help us do that so therapists like the clothes.
Does Eileen ever use an alias?
With a few friends sometimes I do, but I won’t tell you what it is … it’s funny because sometimes people will comment about my clothes or say something like … if someone takes my credit card they’ll say, “You know there’s a famous designer with your name,” and I’ll say, “Yeah, I know that” and I’ll just try to go anonymous [laughter] … because they don’t think that I would be her!
As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.
Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.
Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.