“There’s a feeling that happens to a teacher—and unless you’ve taught you won’t know—you can be hurt, you can be upset. . . You walk into the classroom. You close that door and you’re in a different world. It’s them and you. And that’s what it’s all about.” – Elaine Stone
Elaine Stone knew how to get students excited about the fashion business. While she could catch anyone’s attention with her selection of hats, her experiences and advice are what always held an audience. She continually strove to be better and made everyone around her raise the bar without asking.
During her illustrious career, Elaine authored more than 14 textbooks, including The Dynamics of Fashion and In Fashion, published by Fairchild Books, and Fashion Merchandising and Fashion Buying, published by McGraw Hill. She joined The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) after an exemplary career in retailing, which began with Macy’s executive training squad and culminated in her post as vice president of the former Mangel Stores. A member of the FIT’s Fashion Merchandising Management Department since 1975, she was instrumental in setting new directions for both the AAS and BS degree programs at FIT and was a lead member of teams that established educational liaisons for FIT with countries around the world. She founded the Enterprise Center, a business training resource for fashion industry professionals, designers, and artists. In her own words, she “saw a need for special attention to women entrepreneurs” and started the Women’s Business Owners Program (WBOP), which has trained over 1,500 women business owners.
Among the many awards and accolades Stone received over the years (including the Small Business Leadership Award from the New York City Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a lifetime achievement award from the Department of Commerce, to name a couple), what Elaine valued most was her connection to students. She continued to teach as Professor Emerita at FIT and was looking forward to using her fourth edition of The Dynamics of Fashion—which she worked tirelessly to complete—in her Introduction to Fashion Merchandising class this fall.
Robin Sackin (Litwinsky), Chairperson of the Fashion Merchandising Management Department at FIT fondly recalls:
“I have known and have loved Elaine for over 20 years. She became my mentor, my friend and confidante. Elaine never sugar-coated anything and was always honest. I loved Elaine’s honesty, wisdom, intelligence, and her sense of humor. Every student who had the wonderful opportunity to have her as a professor came out of her classes with an exuberance and love for the fashion industry. Students—past and present— loved Elaine and the knowledge she brought into any subject she taught. Elaine was an icon and all of us at The Fashion Institute of Technology will miss her presence.”
Elaine Stone leaves behind a legacy of intelligence, substance and style to the fashion community. She turned her professional relationships into personal friendships, and each of us who worked with her feels a profound loss. All of us at Fairchild Books will miss her and we hope that future generations will continue to learn about—and through— this incredible woman.
Elaine Stone Scholarship Award
“What a turn-on and a pleasure it is to give scholarships. The awards give students a feeling about themselves because they’re being rewarded for their talent and their interest in retailing. I like conveying that message. I like sending them off with the feeling that they’re going to succeed.” – Elaine Stone
Donations to the Elaine Stone Scholarship Award at FIT may be mailed to:The FIT Foundation
227 W. 27th Street, Room C204
New York, NY 10001
Please contact Mary Briatico of the FIT Foundation for any donation-related questions at 212.217.4115.
Illustration by Richard Ely