Norma Kamali is an iconic designer marking 55 years in business. She owns her own business and continues to remain relevant in the fashion industry while living a creative life and running her global company. Norma is credited with fashion inventions that have impacted and influenced fashion globally throughout the decades.
She invented many firsts in fashion: the sleeping bag coat, sweats as ready to wear which inspired casual dressing as a global lifestyle, inventive active sportswear, influential swimwear that inspired many swimwear companies for decades, wash and wear easy care, and jersey knit collections for a modern lifestyle for packable travel friendly wardrobes.
She designed luxury collections in Italy and a fashion wardrobe for Walmart while managing her global business based in New York City. She collaborated in numerous licensing agreements for all categories in the USA, Japan and Europe throughout her career. No matter the design, the objective for her brand is designing clothing that is timeless, sustainable (wash only), and inspires the wearer to feel good.
Norma’s fascination for technology has been used throughout her career, from the early days in 1964 as a reservations agent at Northwest Airlines trained on a UNIVAC computer. Her early realization of the opportunities of access to real time data inspired many forays into the digital world in her business.
Her website, created in 1996, was the first step for her to have real time connections directly to her clients. “Try Before You Buy” and “Shop Like A Celebrity” were instituted at this time as well. QR codes were used for shopping in store from mannequin installations, eventually giving clients the chance to see the clothing in person and then save the QR code photo for future purchasing upon arrival at home.
Her headquarters, established on 56th Street in a building she purchased in 1982, created a full concept design company, from the sample room to three floors of retail. As of July 2022 her new headquarters are in the West Village, with 17,000 sq ft for the company office and sample room, as well as installations and events.
Her current collections are designer styling at contemporary price points. The distribution is primarily e-commerce accounts globally and distribution agreements in Europe, Canada, and Australia. Her retail store was replaced by a 24/7 website, with same day service in the New York City metropolitan area for tourists. Norma believes fashion and beauty are enhanced by a healthy, fit body and mind. Her book released in 2021 outlines her research and studies into healthy lifestyle, wellness, and longevity.
When her close friends were dying of aids in the 80’s, her desire was to deal with her grief by understanding the importance of the immune system. She studied under Dr. Andrew Weil, who held retreats for doctors wanting to incorporate proactive health methods into their practice.
“While some of the chemistry went over my head, I was a passionate student and enjoyed meeting the incredible folks who spoke at and were a part of the retreats, like Michael Pollan and Dr. Low Dog, a Native American medicine woman.”
“I had the extraordinary experience of being mentored by Horst, the creator of Aveda, when after the sale of the company he decided to do extraordinary research in the health of women and the interaction of make up, skin, hair, all products and women’s health. He had me read the studies and as I was reading I stopped wearing my red nails and red lips that defined my style for so many years.”
“’I Am Invincible’ is the name of my book and the start of the conversation about aging with power. I explore the decades of a woman’s life and the experiences; however at menopause and the age of 50 a new opportunity for the rest of your life opens and the best experience is a conscious path to longevity and a positive mind.
“My interest in all things for female empowerment has been my purpose in my life. There is nothing more important than feeling good in your body and mind, and when you look good at the same time a woman is invincible.”
“I am fully immersed in this research and exploration personally and my goal at 77 years of age is to share this with women not just post menopause, but women pre menopause so that the choice they make heads them to longevity. Aging with power will enable new dreams, opportunities never considered before for post 50 year olds.
“My experience of meeting my soul mate at 65 is just one example! And I just signed a long term lease.
“More to follow as my dream comes to life!”