Ebony Pauses Fashion Fair’s 50 Year Run

By Steve Smith

A magazine branded institution succumbs to the Great Recession as Ebony magazine confirms to minonline that it is canceling its traveling Ebony Fashion Fair for the fall season. “For over fifty years, Ebony Fashion Fair has been committed to the important efforts of community organizations and have worked together to raise an estimated $55 million in support of local charities,” said Linda Johnson Rice, president and ceo, Johnson Publishing Company in a statement. “In light of the overall economic challenges that are affecting many, including our potential corporate sponsors, we have arrived at a most difficult decision to cancel Ebony Fashion Fair’s fall 2009 season.”

Traditionally, the fair traveled city to city, featuring fashions from dozens of international designers and helping to raise money for local charities along the way. One civic organization in Broward, Florida told UPI that the cancellation was “devastating” because it was the top fund raiser for scholarships, cancer research and community causes. The show began in 1956 when then publisher and chairman John H. Johnson was approached to sponsor a small fashion show fund-raiser for the Women’s Auxiliary of Flint-Goodrich Hospital in New Orleans. It quickly grew into an annual tour of multiple cities with 180 sponsors. There have been over 4,000 shows in the series, staged in the U.S. Caribbean, London and Jamaica.

According to Rice, the tradition will live on. “In the coming months, we will develop a new business model to ensure that the show is a mutually beneficial endeavor. Our primary goal is to build Ebony Fashion Fair and our other brands in ways that will continue delivering meaningful insight and inspiration to the African-American community.”