“StyleCouncil is especially unique because of its artistry and tech expertise.”

Joe CastaldoPresident & Founder

“I’ve learned from and built strong relationships with some of the biggest names in fashion.”

Joe Castaldo’s journey began as a fashion student at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology; upon graduation, he joined the Pierre Cardin team as a designer, and moved to Paris a few years later to work for Yves Saint Laurent. In Paris, he met Bob Ward, the founder of Palm Beach Co., who became his mentor. Joe learned everything about Fashion from Bob and with his guidance, Joe eventually made his way back to New York City to work for Gianni Versace, shuttling back and forth between Italy and New York City, and gaining tremendous global experience and perspective. After working with some of the biggest designers, Joe switched gears and joined the Van Heusen Company and JC Penney, using both his exquisite style and expertise to help these large brands create their own product lines, as they did not have in-house design teams at the time. Private label clothing was gaining in popularity, and Joe was quick to identify a real need for talented freelance designers. He started StyleCouncil in 1986 to respond to this need; Joe was highly respected in the industry, and both his background and the strong connections he had with celebrity designers led StyleCouncil to immediately witness an influx of orders and design inquiries.

Faces of the Garment District - StyleCouncil digital printing
Faces of the Garment District - StyleCouncil artistry and technology

“StyleCouncil is especially unique because of its artistry and tech expertise.”

With time, StyleCouncil significantly expanded it reach. From only focusing on design services and original art, the company shifted to also offering digital printing, hand painting, and sublimation printing. StyleCouncil became an art studio with over fifty artists, managing art for fashion designers, retailers, manufacturers, interior designers, and more. Everyone seemed to need this work, and Joe kept finding new ways to keep his clients excited and engaged. As an example, in the 1990s, when CAD services became more available, Joe redirected his focus toward this new technology. The industry was changing fast, and StyleCouncil became known for flawlessly integrating both artistry and technology, and thoroughly training its entire staff to achieve impeccable results.

Today, StyleCouncil mainly offers two types of services. First, designer services, with StyleCouncil artists partnering with designers to help bring their vision to life. Some of the artists on-staff have been working with particular designers for several decades, effectively becoming part of their client brands’ DNA. Second, for already developed artwork, StyleCouncil assigns and transfers the copyright to client looking to use it. A key elements behind StyleCouncil’s success has been the focus that Joe and his team have placed on remaining intimately involved in the latest trends, runway shows, streetstyle, etc. at any given point in time.

“COVID came at a time when we were already at this strange new place in fashion.”

Unlike many other garment businesses, overseas competition has not affected StyleCouncil’s business. Joe’s team primarily works on creating samples and preparing designs before they are produced either domestically or overseas. Joe strongly believes that creative businesses are less vulnerable to foreign competition, and StyleCouncil’s deep artistic roots combined with its use of the latest technologies makes its selling proposition truly unique.

For Joe, the fashion industry was already at a strange place before the pandemic made it even stranger. While large designers were the ones dictating trends in the past, social media has changed the equation, and consumers have shifted their engagement toward popular online trends. With the surge of influencers, the fashion press seems to be less important, and consumers are taking more of an authoritative role in dictating trends. Furthermore, there is a considerable number of celebrities leveraging their identities, designing their own fashion lines and thereby dictating trends to their fans. That said, Joe remains convinced that the creative and technical savviness of designers will always be necessary. Design skills take significant time and experience to perfect, and StyleCouncil intends to keep adapting to this new wave in fashion, marketing itself as an artist and tech studio prepared to meet the needs of all designers, celebrities, and brands.

Faces of the Garment District - StyleCouncil hand painting

Q&A with Joe Castaldo

What keeps you motivated?

Young talented designers and artists keep me motivated and excited.

Who influenced you most?

All the arts influence me. There is no one part. It is all encompassing, from fine art to fashion design.