Who we are

Marilyn Kawakami is a 30 year veteran of the fashion and apparel industry. Her legendary accomplishments in her field derive from her uncanny combination of design and merchandising expertise joined to her remarkable business savvy and to her solid record of industry innovation. For Songmasters, Kawakami is responsible for the design and delivery of merchandising programs developed for our clients.

Having started in retail as a buyer for Bonwit Teller, Kawakami has since held the title of President of a number of fashion apparel companies with $100 million plus annual sales volume including Ralph Lauren Womenswear, Bill Haire, Anne Klein, Anne Klein II, and Anne Klein A-line. Her responsibilities in these companies included marketing, merchandising, and manufacturing as well as business planning and development. As founder and creator of Anne Klein II, Kawakami's use of media, direct mail and professional training to launch this bridge-wear division made her a pioneer in the fashion industry.

Kawakami’s marketing and merchandising experience is broad-based, diverse and international. Early in her career, she was Design and Merchandising Director for Gloria Vanderbilt, the first mega jeans brand, and also the first apparel company to do over $400 million in sales volume in a single year. In the 1990’s, she lived and worked in Europe, having been assigned full responsibility for the international marketing and merchandising of Giorgio Armani LeCollezione as well as those of the Valentino, Ungaro, and Montana labels. She later opened two bridge divisions for GFT in Torino, Italy.

Upon returning to the U.S., Kawakami started Lanson Inc., a business that vertically integrated all processes of the manufacturing pipeline to allow for apparel and related merchandising businesses to be market-driven. This company forged strategic partnerships between designers, stores and other manufacturers. These synergies resulted in economies of scale, offering the economic advantages of outsourcing and the ability to respond to the marketplace by providing “quick response and replenishment.”

A former Board Member of both the New York Fashion Council and the Fashion Round Table, she is also affiliated with the Fashion Group International and is Co-Chair of the New York Chapter of the Women’s National Museum.