Mike Amiri is by far the strongest name in the new American establishment. His brand, founded ten years ago in Los Angeles, reportedly did $250 million in sales last year, and Amiri has a coveted official spot on the Paris Fashion Week calendar. This was his fourth nomination; so far he’s winless. But earlier in the evening, he let me in on a not-so-secret to his success: “For me, my metric is longevity, the marathon,” he said. Not how full his trophy case is.
Amiri instead modeled his business, which has risen meteorically on the wave of celebrity endorsements and a genuine commitment to showcasing Euro-style luxury through a West Coast sensibility, on Thom Browne, Tom Ford, and Rick Owens, he told me. “Those designers are consistently good, and they have consistently evolved,” he told me. In other words, it’s not about chasing buzz but about knowing exactly what you want to say, and not being afraid to change tack as the winds shift.
I suggested to Amiri that, all that being said, he must still really want to take home the silver CFDA statuette. He told me he didn’t write an acceptance speech. “My kids are like, You’re going up with KidSuper!” Mike laughed. “They have their own fashion heroes.” (He and Dillane are good friends.)
Around the room, Dillane was a popular prediction to win that night. “Now, you’re rewarded for new ideas. I don’t know if you always were,” said the former aspiring soccer pro, who has staged fashion shows in the guise of art auctions, comedy shows, and plays, and whose KidSuper designs recently found their way onto the avatar of American maleness, Travis Kelce. The French establishment certainly didn’t know what to do with Dillane when he first crashed Paris Fashion Week last year, and they still don’t. But in New York he was the life to the party. “I wasn’t expecting them to like my new ideas,” he said. “Sometimes they don’t. But sometimes they do!”
“They” could have referred to just about anybody in the house. One such power player, CFDA CEO Steven Kolb, explained that he’s fought to elevate new American talent at the helm of his post. “This is my 17th CFDA Awards,” he said, “and at the beginning of my career, it was always the same names. People would go—Oh, it’s always Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, but that has really shifted.” He stopped to take a photo with a third member of that American fashion Mount Rushmore, Tom Ford. Ford was the CFDA chairman during the covid era, and one of his main initiatives was to make the organization more diverse, and to support equity and inclusion in the industry. “When you look at the diversity of the nominees, it’s much greater than it ever has been because of the programs we’ve done,” Kolb added, citing the CFDA’s work to get Chavarria on the New York Fashion Week calendar. “We’ve been there along the way for him.”