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Eileen Fisher: 30 years of organic growth.

Eileen Fisher doesn’t care about fashion per se, getting critical acclaim from the industry or succumbing to the frenetic, sometimes brutal pace of the apparel industry. Instead, over...

Eileen Fisher doesn’t care about fashion per se, getting critical acclaim from the industry or succumbing to the frenetic, sometimes brutal pace of the apparel industry. Instead, over the past 30 years, she has built a company that’s quite the opposite — a serene palette, basic silhouettes, natural fabrics and responsible sourcing, and she starts each meeting with meditation.


Fisher likes to say she stumbled into the business, with neither a fashion nor business degree. Starting her company with $350 in her bank account, she today oversees a firm that generated $430 million in volume last year, and is arguably one of the best-performing and socially responsible apparel companies in the U.S.

“I call it organic growth,” said Fisher, in an interview at her Irvington, N.Y., home. “People are always asking me how big I think [the company] will be. I don’t know. It was never about how big it would be or having a real strategy.”

Image: Isabella Rossellini campaign in 1998.


TIMELINE.

1984
■ Eileen Fisher starts the company with one size of clothing.

1986

■ Company incorporates with four employees on East 10th Street in Manhattan.

1987
■ 9th Street boutique opens.
■ Headquarters opens on 39th Street.
■ Company now employs seven people.

1991
■ Portfolio expands to include 2 sizes of clothing [1 (s/m) and 2 (m/l)].
■ 25 employees now working in wholesale.
■ New York showroom opens.
■ First full-price retail store opens at 521 Madison Ave.

Image: The real women campaign, 2003.



1992
■ Saks Fifth Avenue becomes the first major retailer to carry Eileen Fisher.
■ Headquarters moves from West 39th street to Irvington, N.Y.
■ Profit-sharing added as a company benefit.
■ Columbus Avenue store opens.

1993
■ Two stores open in New York, on Fifth Avenue and at 1039 Madison Avenue.

1994
■ Los Angeles showroom opens.
■ Company has 1,400 wholesale accounts.
■ Showroom opens at 214 West 39th Street and the company now employs six people.
■ Four stores open: East Hampton, N.Y.; Sanibel, Fla.; Copley Place in Boston and Chestnut Hill, Mass.
■ Company now counts 130 employees.

1995
■ White Plains, N.Y., store opens.

1996
■ Distribution center opens in Secaucus, N.J.

1997
■ Two stores open: Westport, Conn., and SoHo in Manhattan.
■ Employee roll grows to 280.

1998
■ Atlanta showroom opens.
■ Store opens on Pine Street in Seattle.
■ Eileen Fisher New York collection is launched.
■ Isabella Rossellini campaign runs.

1999
■ Northampton, Mass., store opens.
■ 326 retail and wholesale employees.
■ More than 1.6 million units ship.

Image: the 20th anniversary ad campaign, 2004.



2001
■ Water Tower store opens in Chicago.

2002
■ Three stores open: Tysons in McLean, Va.; Bethesda-Montgomery, Md., and Palo Alto-Stanford, Calif.

2003
■ More than 2.5 units ship.
■ Five stores open: Walnut Creek, Century City and South Coast Plaza in California; Troy-Somerset in Michigan; Naples, Fla.
■ “Real Women” spring ad campaign launches.
■ Eileen Fisher makes its first appearance on the Great Place to Work list, compiled by the Great Place to Work Institute.

2004

■ Company marks its 20th anniversary, counting 587 retail and wholesale employees, 27 retail stores, three outlets and two boutiques.
■ Columbus Circle store opens in New York.

2006
■ Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) launches.
■ Eileen Fisher Home Collection by Garnet Hill makes its debut.
■ Eileen Fisher ranks 7th on the Great Place to Work list.

2007
■ Eileen Fisher Creative Center opens at 111 Fifth Avenue.
■ Irvington headquarters is expanded.
■ Four retail stores open: King of Prussia, Pa.; Bridgeport Village in Tigard, Ore.; University Village in Seattle; Hingham, Mass.
■ Eileen Fisher ranks 7th on the Great Place to Work list.

2008
■ First Eileen Fisher TV commercial airs.
■ New York showroom moves to 111 Fifth Avenue.
■ Leather collection bows.



2009
■ Seven stores open: Highland Park, Ill; Mill Valley and Palm Desert, Calif.; Chevy Chase, Md.; Denver; Santa Fe, N.M.; Wayside Commons, Mass.
■ Eileen Fisher Lab store opens in Irvington.

2010

■ Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute for Girls is formed.

2011

■ Eileen Fisher receives Architectural Record’s “Good Design is Good Business Award” for its corporate headquarters in Irvington and Creative Center in Manhattan.
■ U.K. stores open at Marylebone High Street and Covent Garden.
■ The first Eileen Fisher store in Canada opens in Vancouver.
■ A concept store opens at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street flagship.
■ Debut of the shoe collection.

2012
■ Green Eileen store opens in Yonkers, N.Y.
China silks receive Bluesign certification for chemical, water and energy usage, bringing the eco collection to 27 percent certified.
■ For Earth Day, all stores collect gently worn Eileen Fisher clothing, which is sent to Green Eileen for recycling to support causes for women and girls.

2013
■ U.K. store opens in Wimbledon Village.
■ Green Eileen store opens in Seattle.
■ Full-price store opens in Nashville.
■ Fifth Avenue and Columbus Circle stores are renovated as concept stores.
■ Eileen Fisher is named one of the Best Small & Medium Workplaces by the Great Place to Work Institute.

2014
■ The company marks its 30th anniversary, with more than 1,100 employees and 67 stores.
■ The Icon collection makes its debut as part of the 30th anniversary celebration.
■ The Fisher Project capsule collection launches and a Project store opens on Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles.


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SOURCE: EILEEN FISHER AND WWD.COM


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