Susan Sokol
Senior Fashion Executive

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You don’t get unless you ask. Always value your worth.
 Don’t let company politics affect your sense of self!

About Susan

Susan is one of the most accomplished female retail executives in the US. Having started her career at Calvin Klein where she became President of the Women’s Collection, she was then named President of Donna Karan International followed by Michael Kors, Vera Wang and J. Mendel helping them through exciting stages of growth.

Six years ago she decided to leave the corporate world to provide strategic advice to luxury fashion brands and co-founded the High Alchemy Showroom to curate and sell those brands she was most passionate about.  

A lifelong New Yorker, Susan was educated at Finch College in English Literature, she served as a mentor to the CFDA’s incubator program and today she is a board member to several non-profit organisations such as City of Hope and Sanctuary for Families.

Questions

How did you get to where you are today?

I had the good fortune to be born and raised in NYC. My father owned a textile company and from a very young age, would take me to his meetings in the garment center. I had an immediate love and interest for fashion, and got my big break working for Calvin Klein in the early 70’s as a wholesale account executive. I enjoyed interacting with people, and was naturally good at selling. I spent nearly 23 years at the company eventually earning the role of President of the women’s collection, the business that set the tone and spirit for the entire Calvin Klein brand. It was a key role in the company and I was an integral part of all the major company decisions. I essentially cut my teeth at that company, and learned all aspects of the business which paved the way for every other position I have had.

As a woman working in the luxury & fashion industry, what key learnings would you like to pass on to the next generation of women?

You don’t get unless you ask.
 Always value your worth. Don’t let company politics affect your sense of self!

How do you manage to balance work and personal life?

I have an incredible husband who has always been (38+ years) a tremendous support in every possible way. Could never do it without him!

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How do you think fashion can make women feel empowered?

I honestly believe having a sense of style and passion for fashion makes me feel confident and self- assured. I genuinely love product and it was that love that helped propel my career as an executive with strong merchandising skills. I always had the passion for fashion and at each job along the way, my confidence and sense of style enhanced and became more of my own.

What do you love about DeMellier and what is your favourite DeMellier handbag?

Not easy to select a favorite as each bag is so chic. I do love the Oslo shape because of its minimal refined lines. For me, less is always more.

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What are your handbag essentials that you cannot live without?

Over the years, I have learned to carry less. Perhaps because smaller bags are very fashionable today, so my musts are: my keys, a few credit cards, a bit of cash, cell phone, hand sanitizer and lipstick, and not necessarily in that order.

Finally, tell us something people don’t know about you!

I love to sing! As a young girl, I studied singing and thought that I wanted to sing professionally. I even wrote a few songs and had the lead roles in all my school and camp plays. I have strong memories of going to the theater with my parents and grandparents and loving all the Richard Rodger and Oscar Hammerstein shows. Eventually, I gave it up as I thought I did not have enough of what it takes to succeed so I turned to fashion!