The late Senator Dianne Feinstein | Photo courtesy of

The late Senator Dianne Feinstein | Photo courtesy of


Remembering Dianne Feinstein: an Advocate for California’s Fashion Industry

In April 2007, a law initiated by some New York designers was to be put in front of Congress by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), making “knock-offs” of un-copyrighted apparel “illegal” and subject to lawsuits and fines based on the designers’ own interpretation of “originality.”

Stanley Hirsh, then owner of the Cooper Building, initiated a call to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and we met at the Hillcrest County Club to put forth our industry’s objections. The issue was outlined relating to the economic consequences of SB 1957 from the varying points of view: legal, accounting, banking and the specifics of the manufacturing process in creating timely contemporary products.

In May 2007, members of the California Fashion Association and I traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet in the senator’s office. In attendance were Lonnie Kane, Richard Reinis, Steve Maiman, Ed Handler, Fred Gaylord, and Douglas Lipstone along with the senator and members of her staff.

Our position was: “Fashion is an industry that thrives on trends, and trends, by their nature, involve the sharing and tweaking of new ideas. In fashion there is truly nothing new under the sun, and designers are constantly looking to the past and the present for inspiration in their work. The industry is highly creative under this model, and there is no need to ‘fix’ that which is not broken.” Nothing has changed!

Sen. Feinstein and members of her staff “marched” us into Sen. Schumer’s office for an appointed meeting. While she officiated in that meeting, CFA presented our position with charts, pictures, and a clear analysis of the consequences.

The two senators met briefly together as we left Sen. Schumer’s office and nothing was ever heard of the bill again...ever!

Obviously, two senators, listening to their constituents, made their decisions right then and there, without committees or social media.

On another occasion, Sen. Feinstein, accompanied by Maurice Marciano, Ronald Perlman, Vera Campbell, Lonnie Kane and me led CFA to then Labor Secretary Hilde Solis, and, on our behalf, objected to the negative statements being made by the Labor Department about California’s manufacturing community.

It is our fervent hope that sometime, somewhere, the industry and the state will have such an effective advocate again.

With gratitude,

Ilse Metchek, President, California Fashion Association