Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis: Eileen Fisher

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Eileen Fisher founded her eponymous clothing company, known for its simple shapes and beautiful fabrics, in 1984 with $350 in startup money.

Her first order at a New York clothing design show was for $3,000, which was followed three months later with $40,000 in additional sales. The original concept — pieces that work together to help women get dressed easily — still defines the company’s collections. “I never set out to be a clothing designer,” says Fisher. “I was an uncomfortable person, and so I wanted comfortable clothes. And I hated shopping. There were too many choices; it was too complicated and a big waste of time. I wanted clothes like the simple shift dresses my mother made — easy, not fussy, and flattering.” In 2005, Fisher sold the $300 million company to her 875 employees through an employee stock ownership plan. Fisher joins Fern Mallis to discuss how she marries her passion for design with her dedication to sustainability and human rights.