10 December 2020 | 10 minutes.

Let’s REIMAGINE the global FASHION industry

Andrea Kennedy
Sustainability Professor (LIM College) and Founder and Sustainability Lead (Fashiondex)

Andrea Kennedy, Sustainability Professor (LIM College) and Founder and Sustainability Lead (Fashiondex)

An interview with Andrea Kennedy, Founder and Sustainability Lead of Fashiondex.com and Assistant Professor at LIM College in New York.

REVOLVE caught up with Andrea Kennedy who started Fashiondex. com in 1994. We learned a lot about the challenges and opportunities for circularity in the global fashion industry.

What led you to start Fashiondex.com more than 25 years ago? What does Fashiondex do?

Fashiondex started because I was at my first job working as a design assistant at Calvin Klein, and one of my responsibilities was sourcing materials. We spent a lot of time calling – asking for minimums, prices, countries of origin, and how long it would take to ship to our factories in Italy or China. After a while, I started imagining a directory that provides all this information in one place. Back then, we had Rolodexes, and they came with pre-printed cards arranged in alphabetical order. As I met with fabric supplier after fabric supplier, I used my cards and started developing categories for materials: black velvet went under V (for velvet), metal buttons went under B (for buttons) and so on.

The other designers loved my Rolodex, because it made their job much easier. There were seven floors in the company and I often had to run up and down to find my Rolodex because someone else was using it.

A few years later, I decided I should try and monetize my idea; so with the help of a techy friend, we purchased blank Rolodexes directly, made our own fashion-supplier cards, called it Fashiondex (Fashion and Rolodex morphed) and started selling them. At the time, everyone worked mainly by phone, with some emailing, but we decided to set up a website in 1994. Fashiondex. com was the first fashion-trade website in the industry, which really propelled us into the future. Still to this day, I have customers my age and older who say they only use Fashiondex.com for sourcing, since we were their first. We built a reliable following from the very beginning.