No one knows Atlanta’s history of fashion better than The Fashion Group International of Atlanta Inc.’s Kevin Knaus.
You might know Kevin Knaus as a professor of fashion marketing and management, and luxury and fashion management at SCAD Atlanta, but most Atlantans know him as the regional director of The Fashion Group International of Atlanta Inc. This is Knaus’ third go as regional director for the all-voluntary, not-for-profit organization—and he’s aiming for it to be the best one yet.
FGI, as it’s known, originated in New York City as an organization to empower women in the fashion industry, with bold-type names like Edith Head and Elizabeth Arden involved in its inception. The Atlanta chapter (there are 35 internationally) was founded in 1947 and celebrates 71 years strong this year, with membership at an all-time high. “What makes us special is our membership,” says Knaus. “We have many top industry executives from every sector, including design, marketing, finance, manufacturing, retail, media, education and consulting.”
Knaus himself is a kind of historian for the Atlanta fashion industry. Men weren’t allowed to join at first, but he and Jeffrey Kalinsky (who is still a member today) joined when they opened up the membership in 1998. Knaus remembers fondly a day when Women’s Wear Daily had an office here and when Rich’s threw extravagant charity events like Fashionata. “It was at the Fox Theatre three nights in a row—that’s almost 3,000 people,” he says. “We’re hoping to bring events of this caliber back
Knaus is modest in discussing his place in Atlanta’s fashion history—but he’s seen it all, from the Met Ball to shows in Paris and Milan. He even met style icon Princess Diana on several occasions and was featured in a fashion tome alongside the likes of Alexander McQueen. But he’s very focused on his job: “We’re now at our biggest membership, and our chapter is one of the most awarded chapters. But I want us to do even bigger events, bring back Night of Stars,” he says. “Community is so important—I tell my students to make sure they’re a part of an organization or a community. It’s important to get everyone involved.”
Photography by: Heather Fulbright | Shot on location at Dolce Decor