The Fashion Group International, Inc. is extremely grateful for the support
from the following sponsors who helped to make this conference possible.

MAY 18th

7:30AM – 6:30PM


Y&R Group – 3 Columbus Circle, NY, NY
(Entrance on Broadway btw 57th & 58th Street)


Jessica Conick is a Brand Strategy Consultant with 14 years of experience in marketing and events for the fashion, beauty, home and non-profit industries. She’s worked for brands like Soft Surroundings, Ann Taylor, and St. Louis Homes & Lifestyles Magazine as well as a few non-profits including serving as the Regional Director for The Fashion Group International of Saint Louis. She also started an upcycled denim fashion line called Mount Indigo as a passion project to promote Sustainable fashion. The intersection of creativity and science of consumer behavior have always drawn her to the business of marketing, while her passion for entrepreneurism and creating her own line led her to play an active role in the local fashion ecosystem. She loves wrapping her mind around businesses she is passionate about to help brainstorm strategies that will bring them success and long-term sustainability (people + planet + profits).


Manfred co-leads Yonder and is responsible for the development of Yonder’s offer and leading large client assignments.
He is a seasoned strategy practitioner and has deep expertise in fashion, luxury, hospitality and retail. Manfred has extensive experience in developing new propositions and helping his clients attract new audiences to accelerate the growth of their businesses.  He has worked with Stella McCartney at the inception of her brand and with Ralph Laurent on rejuvenating Chaps and adjusting the brand for the Chinese market. Other clients include Russell Athletic, Frontgate, Jaguar Cars, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Kelly Hoppen and The Diamond Trading Company to name a few.


For more than four decades, Ralph Rucci has been assembling an atelier of uniquely talented, creative individuals who share both his aesthetic and his passion for meticulous workmanship. Since 1981, Rucci’s body of work has been evolving, garment by garment, using the most luxurious fabrics and most renowned specialized collaborators. Despite a quantum leap in both the quality and magnitude of his designs, Rucci’s evolutionary process moves at its own pace. New silhouettes and technical processes enter his oeuvre as the designer sees fit, not when external pressures dictate.

Nearly all of the artisanal techniques and exquisite, intricate hand-work exhibited in each collection were conceived, developed and realized by Rucci and his team – a studio which has been collectively referred to as one of the finest in the world. Rucci and his team have always been very proud that every garment produced – samples and production – were made in his New York-based workrooms.

Rucci was greatly honored by The Federation de la Haute Couture e de la Mode in 2001 to be the first American designer in history invited to show a Haute Couture Collection in Paris as part of the official calendar and continued to show there for five seasons, as he showed his ready-to-wear collections in New York. After a 12-year hiatus, he was most honored to return to Paris to present his Fall/Winter 2019 Haute Couture Collection at the Hotel Ritz.

In 2016, after leaving the company he built for more than thirty years, he has dedicated himself to perfecting the fine art of Haute Couture in the French tradition and continues to work tirelessly toward that goal.

Rucci believes he was born to create his chosen metier and continually strives to inspire all who seek refinement, beauty and quality workmanship in the world of fashion. He will always cherish experimentation in cut, proportion and construction; he will always continue to seek ways in which to move his profession forward. Today, Rucci works at his new Couture Salon and Gallery, seeing clients individually and focusing on his art.

Rucci’s work has been featured in numerous museum exhibitions, including three solo shows, and is also the subject of two books: “Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness”, by Valerie Steele, Patricia Mears and Claire Sauro; Yale University Press, 2007; and “Autobiography of a Fashion Designer: Ralph Rucci”, photographs by Baldomero Fernandez and text by Matthew Egan; Bauer and Dean Publishers, 2011. Rucci has also been the subject of a documentary film by David Boatman: “Ralph Rucci: A Designer and His House”, which premiered in 2008 on The Sundance Channel.
Rucci has also received many industry awards including, among others, The “Artistry of Fashion” Award; The Couture Council of The Museum at FIT, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, 2006; A “Fashion Walk of Fame” Plaque on Seventh Avenue, New York, 2011; The “Andre Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award”, Savannah College of Art and Design, 2012; The “Lifetime Living Legend Award”, Fashion Group International of New York, 2019; and An “Honorary Doctorate Degree”, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, 2022.

MAY 19th

8AM – 9:30PM


Hearst Tower – 300 West 57th Street, NYC


Based in the Foley & Lardner New York office, Arian Jabbary advises on all facets of intellectual property including strategic brand counseling, portfolio management, trademark prosecution, complex licensing, and mergers/acquisitions.  Arian also provides intellectual property counseling within the realms of Web3, touching on branding and enforcement in the metaverse, as well as navigating the implementation and licensing of digital assets.  Arian has unique insight in the fashion, beauty, and luxury spaces, drawing from his experience as an international fashion photographer.  Prior to joining Foley, Arian served as Associate General Counsel at Maesa, a global beauty brand incubator.  Arian is a member of Foley’s Fashion, Apparel & Beauty industry team.


David Joyal is VP, Legal – Global Supply and Patents at Coty Inc., supporting global procurement, innovation, supply chain management, litigation, and regulatory. Prior to his time at Coty David was Lead Patent and R&D counsel at Avon Products, Inc. and was previously in private practice for 9 years. David is a graduate of Skidmore College and Emory Law School.


Edie Weiner is President and CEO of The Future Hunters, one of the world’s leading futurist consulting firms. She has served over 400 clients identifying opportunities in the areas of marketing, product development, investment, strategic planning, human resources and public affairs. Clients have ranged from national governments to the Fortune 500. Edie has keynoted hundreds of conferences (including The World Economic Forum in Davos and TEDx), and has guest lectured at various prestigious institutions, including Harvard, Wharton, U.S. Army War College, U.S. Naval War College, among others.
At 29, she became the youngest outside woman ever elected to a corporate board. Her many articles have appeared in publications like The Harvard Business Review, The Futurist, and The Wall Street Journal. She wrote four books, and her latest, FutureThink, was a global bestseller, translated into many languages. She has keynoted over 300 conferences.

Edie served on over 30 Boards and Advisory Boards, now including the US Comptroller General’s Advisory Board and GOSO (Getting Out and Staying Out – reducing recidivism). Past boards include José Limón Dance Foundation (Chair), UNUM Corporation, First Unum Corp., CompUSA, the Fashion Group International, ThinkQuest New York City (Chair), Boardroom Inc., the SyFy Channel, Independent Agents & Brokers of New York, the Women’s Leadership Exchange, and the Women’s Forum. Ms. Weiner is a member of the Women’s Forum, a co-founder of the Belizean Grove and Women Corporate Directors, and has received over 30 awards and citations, including the Fashion Group International’s Entrepreneur of the Year (1998), NOW New York’s 2011 Woman of Power and Influence, and The World Future Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award.


Jeffrey Banks is an acclaimed Men’s Fashion Designer whose signature American design style has significantly impacted the entire fashion world.

While obtaining a degree in Fashion Design at Pratt Institute and Parsons School of Design in New York City, Jeffrey Banks was Design Assistant to both Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.

The Jeffrey Banks Signature Men’s Wear Collection was launched in 1977, consisting of tailored clothing, dress furnishings and sportswear. It established a new benchmark for men of style. The American art of casual dressing was reinvented when Banks took over as Design Director of Merona Sport in the 1980’s, launching the concept of “spectator sportswear” for men, women and children and building a $150 million sportswear line in less than five years.

In addition to designing his signature menswear line, Banks also designed private label sportswear and clothing for Bloomingdale’s, and conceived and developed the Johnnie Walker Collection of men’s sportswear as the first brand extension for this prestigious distiller. He has also designed Jeffrey Banks Womenswear and Jeffrey Banks Home Décor for HSN.

Throughout his distinguished career Banks has been honored for his talent and creativity. He has won two Coty Awards for Outstanding Menswear and Men’s Furs. He received the Cutty Sark U.S. Menswear Designer of the Year Award for his extraordinary contribution to men’s fashion, an Earnie Award for boyswear and the Pratt Award for Design Excellence.

Mr. Banks is also an accomplished author having co-authored six books on fashion and fashion designers for Rizzoli, the eminent publishing house.

Jeffrey Banks is a longstanding member of the Executive Board of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). He served for eight years as Vice Chair of the Board of the Hetrick-Martin Institute and has served as a Senior Board Member of the Board of Trustees of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in addition to being a Design Critic at the Parson’s School of Design. He has also served on the Board of The Ali Forney Center for homeless youth. Recently, Banks was honored by the not-for-profit organization, Publicolor, and helped raise 1.1 million dollars for the organization.


Kate Newlin, the principal and founder of Kate Newlin Consulting, is the author of  Shopportunity! How to Be a Retail Revolutionary (Collins) and Passion Brands (Prometheus Books). Shopportunity! was an ‘Oprah Selects’ and a Harvard Business Review recommended ‘book to read.’ Both books are taught in business schools throughout the country. She is also the ghostwriter for a number of best-selling business books by current and former Fortune 500 executives.
Prior to starting her company in 2001, Kate was the president of Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve. With more than 25 years of business strategy and marketing experience, Kate has worked with a broad cross-section of Fortune 500 businesses, including McDonald’s, Pennzoil-Quaker State, Kraft, Hasbro, Cigna, GE Capital, Procter & Gamble, S.C. Johnson & Son, LensCrafters, European Wax Center, Natura, Olay, Avon, Waldenbooks (Kmart), Quaker, Pepsi, Coke, Chanel, Celine Dion retail and many more.
At Kate Newlin Consulting, she is credited with having developed the business strategy and product concepts behind the launch of Nabisco’s 100-Calorie Packs, resulting in a category- wide reinvention of portion-controlled snacking and a $1 billion launch. She also was integrally involved in the development of Bliss chocolates from Hershey’s, the regional expansion of Cheerwine soft drinks (one of the last family-owned and operated soft drink companies in the country), the purpose-driven platform, rebranding and repositioning for Rise Against Hunger, and the re-launch of South Beach Diet. Her proprietary research methodology is successfully employed to surface unmet needs, hopes and aspiration fulfillment strategies for businesses, brands and non-profits in a polarized and oftentimes cynical world. Most recently, her practice has evolved to include the challenging opportunities offered by Web3 technologies and the Metaverse.
She is a frequent speaker at retail and luxury marketing meetings and is often interviewed by trade and national media for her perspectives on the emerging marketspace. She is a columnist for The Robin Report on the topic of retail transformation.


Ken Downing’s career in the fashion and retail industry has been nothing short of legendary. His creative vision, brilliant brand storytelling, and unerring eye for detail have paved the way to leadership roles at some of the most renowned names in fashion–Neiman Marcus, Hearst Publications, and, now, Halston.

Today Mr. Downing is the Creative Director for the Halston and H Halston brands while also serving as Chief Creative Officer for Halston’s parent company, Xcel Brands. In addition to Halston, Xcel nameplates include C. Wonder by Christian Siriano, Judith Ripka, LOGO by Lori Goldstein, Victor Glemaud, and a minority stake in Isaac Mizrahi.

At Halston, Mr. Downing is revitalizing this iconic American brand for a new customer. Roy Halston Frowick’s groundbreaking designs continue to influence fashion today and epitomize American style. While Mr. Downing’s new Halston honors the brand’s namesake, his collections remain fully rooted in the present, with modern interpretations of easy, sensual glamour for both day and evening. Mr. Downing’s first full collection for Halston will be unveiled for merchants and buyers at New York Fashion Week in September.

Prior to joining Xcel, Mr. Downing served as Creative Brand Officer for Hearst Luxury Collection Commerce at Hearst Publications. He oversaw the vision, creation, and marketing strategy for the publishing house’s editor-infused digital retail shopping destination for Elle, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, and Town & Country.

From 2019 – 2021, Mr. Downing served as Chief Creative Officer of Triple Five Group, owner and developer of one of the most ambitious shopping malls in the world, American Dream. Within the company, and American Dream especially, Mr. Downing managed design, advertising, marketing, public relations and special events.

The majority of Mr. Downing’s career was spent at Neiman Marcus. He joined the storied luxury retailer in 1990 as the Director of Fashion and Visual Merchandising at its Beverly Hills store on Wilshire Boulevard. Over the next thirty years, he rose through the company’s corporate ranks to become its Senior Vice President and Fashion Director. In this role, he was responsible for setting the fashion and trend direction for the company, serving as the public face of the retailer, and introducing Neiman Marcus’s customers to countless rising stars in the fashion world that are now household names today.

Mr. Downing has also served on multiple boards, including the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Mr. Downing has collaborated on his own signature lines, including with the brands PopSugar and Nest Fragrances, and is regularly invited to speak at museums (such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the St. Louis Museum of Art) on the subject and intersection of fashion and art.
Mr. Downing holds a bachelor’s degree in Apparel Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, NY.


With a particular focus on the fashion industry, Laura Ganoza serves as a trusted advisor to her clients.  Combining her litigation and intellectual property experience, Laura manages the trademark and copyright portfolios of a number of clients in the creative design industries.  She advises clients, from start-ups to global brands, about how to obtain, maintain and protect their intellectual property rights, both domestically and internationally.  Whether they have trademarks, copyrights, patents or trade secrets, Laura helps her clients enforce their valuable IP rights both inside and outside the courtroom.

Laura is the Co-Chair of Foley’s Fashion Beauty & Apparel practice (Foley FAB) and is a founding member of Foley’s Digital Assets Web3 & NFT Team (DAWN). She is a former Regional Director of the South Florida Chapter of The Fashion Group International, a global trade organization in the fashion, beauty, accessories and home décor industries.  She is also a thought leader within the fashion industry.

Among a host of other publications, Laura co-authored From Gamers to the Runway: Brand Protection for Digital Fashion, published in the March/April 2022 issue of Landslide, a publication of the Intellectual Property Section of the ABA.  She is also the author of “Fashion Branding: What’s in a Name,” published in Apparel magazine. Laura routinely presents seminars on fashion related topics, including the annual Fashion Law – Year in Review, which takes place each year in January. She has presented at Miami Fashion Week and SwimShow, the leading trade show in swimwear industry, among a number of other fashion-industry focused events.

Laura was named to BTI Consulting Group’s coveted Client Service All-Star Team, an honor bestowed upon individual attorneys who deliver outstanding client service.  Along with Foley’s DAWN Team, Laura was selected as honoree of the Daily Business Review’s 2022 Florida Legal Awards in the Innovators category.


Marylou Luther is the editor and founder of the International Fashion Syndicate and creative director emeritus of The Fashion Group International. In 1991, she won the Council of Fashion Designers of America Eugenia Sheppard award for fashion journalism. In 2004, she received the Marylou Luther award for fashion journalism at the Ace Awards. She served for sixteen years as the fashion editor of the Los Angeles Times, and before that fashion editor of the Chicago Tribune and Des Moines Register. She also edited “McCall’s Fashion News”.

Luther’s essays have appeared in The Rudy Gernreich book, Thierry Mugler: Fashion Fetish Fantasy, The Color of Fashion, Todd Oldham: Without Boundaries, and Yeohlee: Work. A book with Geoffrey Beene, titled Beene by Beene, was published in September 2005.

In 2008, France’s Ministére de la Culture et des Communications awarded her the Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres award. A graduate of the University of Nebraska, Luther received the Alumni Achievement award, and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Tau Alpha, Theta Sigma Phi and Gamma Phi Beta. She is the widow of Arthur Imparato and mother of two sons, Walter, a photojournalist for CNN, and Andrew, executive director of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, the stepmother of Arthur Imparato Jr., and grandmother of Gareth, Nicholas, and Luna Imparato.

Cuban-born Ruben Toledo is an artist whose work has appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, the New York Times, and many other publications throughout his thirty-five years working in fashion. Together with his late wife Isabel Toledo, their combined work has been the subject of various museum exhibitions worldwide. He has known Marylou Luther for his entire professional working life and can attest to her “national living treasure” status.


Nima Behnoud, born on August 18th, 1976, began his artistic career in 1996 as a graphic designer at advertising agencies in San Francisco. He later moved to New York City in 1999 to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology, where he started working as a Senior Art Director for L’Oreal Paris. In 2003, Nima joined Tourneau’s creative team, where he developed advertising campaigns for luxury watch brands for eight years.

In addition, Nima concurrently established his own brand, NIMANY, by adding “New York” to his first name as a tribute to the city that inspired his vision. With his background in advertising, Nima always had a polished campaign in mind. The brand started with a small collection of t-shirts and expanded into accessories, handbags, and jewelry. With a focus on the importance of public image and a vision for large-scale production, NIMANY gained recognition and was carried by Barneys, Fred Segals, and several smaller boutiques nationwide in 2008.

In 2008, Nima returned to the Fashion Institute of Technology to pursue a degree in Global Fashion Management, where he received the necessary training to manage a brand and its supply chain. He underwent intensive training at L’Institut Français de la Mode in Paris and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, obtaining his master’s degree from the program in 2010.

In the spring of 2011, Nima assumed the position of Global Creative Director at Jacob & Co, also known as Jacob the Jeweler. During his tenure, he designed and executed several successful campaigns, including a collaboration with soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Leonel Messi, which became one of the brand’s most successful luxury campaigns.

In February 2021, Nima ventured into the NFT scene, creating a series of NFTs featuring the precious stones he had worked with during his time as Creative Director at Jacob & Co. All of his NFTs quickly sold out. Nima saw an opportunity to add timepieces to his product collections at NIMANY, which coincided with the 2021 NFT trend. He subsequently created NIMANY Club watches, a new concept in the NFT scene that combines utility and a roadmap, and the first digital watch brand created from the Metaverse with a redeemable physical promise in the watch industry.


OPÉ is a visionary leader and professional who effortlessly blends creativity, technology, and style. As a fashion stylist, futurist, artist, creative director, and metaverse expert, she empowers people to explore and experience the limitless possibilities of the metaverse. Through The Metaverse Meetup, a Discord community, and FMNFT, a fashion tech initiative, she guides business people and the Gen Z fashion community into the web 3.0 and metaverse technology.

OPÉ is also a highly sought-after speaker and educator, leading thought-provoking discussions on all things metaverse and AI. In addition, she conducts workshops that allow participants to experience the creation of AI art, fashion NFTs, and wearables. Her passion for decentralized systems and unwavering commitment to empowering others make her a true trailblazer in the blockchain industry.


CUBAN born artist, fashion critic , author and surrealist wit RUBEN TOLEDO s work appears in The New Yorker, Vogue, Town & Country, and The New York Times. He created NORDSTROMs national advertising for a decade and illustrated LOUIS VUITTON CITY GUIDE for two.

His work has been exhibited in many museums worldwide including Metropolitan Museum of Art’s COSTUME INSTITUTE and THE VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM IN LONDON .

His collaboration with his late wife, Isabel Toledo, was the subject of a book and museum exhibition at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2009 and since traveled worldwide . The TOLEDO STUDIO was awarded a COOPER HEWITT NATIONAL DESIGN AWARD in 2005 for their work in fashion. Ruben Toledo is the author of “STYLE DICTIONARY” and “FASHION ALMANAC “ as well as illustrating numerous books including NINA GARCIA s fashion book series.


Sharon Graubard is the founder and creative director at MintModa, a fashion forecasting and consulting service with an international following. She also provides creative direction to A+A Milano, a noted forecasting agency, and contributes articles on upcoming trends to publications including California Apparel News and Hartford Courant.

She began her career as a staff illustrator at The Tobé Report, and went on to hold Creative Director posts at Tobé, The Doneger Group, ESP Trendlab and Stylesight/WGSN, where she was SVP Fashion Director. Sharon is known for her compelling trend presentations at industry events such as Première Vision and The Fashion Group International, and she is regularly quoted about style and fashion in The New York Times, WWD, NPR, and other major media outlets.