Corner Office: Eileen Fisher: ‘When Was Fashion Week?’

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Wow, that was a long-winded ramble. But I think the point I was trying to make is that when things go off, and they always do, at first I kind of get depressed. It’s like, “Oh, no! How did that happen again?” And then I’m like, “No, no, right! I need to remember: In the middle of the problem is the possibility.”

You have a reputation as being a brand for older women. How are you trying to change that?

We opened a store in Brooklyn.

It was just Fashion Week. Do you do anything for Fashion Week?

When was Fashion Week?

It seems like some of the principles you’ve always stood for — sustainability, quality materials — are suddenly in vogue now.

We were right all along.

What are this company’s values?

Timeless designs, sustainability, simplicity. We have something called “the system”: eight basic pieces, and then we add a couple and take a couple away each season, and just evolve that basic system of wardrobe.

We did a little survey with our customers and asked what magazines and newspapers they read. The only thing they would consistently admit to was The New York Times and The New Yorker. They’re not Vogue readers.

You provide very generous benefits, and employees own much of the company now.

I’m really convinced that it works for the business. It engages people and their sense of ownership, and they’ll tell you things. They’ll say in a meeting, “Don’t spend my money on that.” People aren’t happy when they see people wasting money here or there or being extravagant on something.

It’s a way we can do our part around this income inequality thing. I think it should be mandatory. I think corporations should have to share a minimum 10 percent of their profits with the people working. It’s not socialism, it’s good for business.

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