Hall of Fame
Josie Cruz Natori (née Josephina Almeda Cruz) is founder and CEO of the Natori Company lifestyle brand, which sells lingerie, sleepwear, ready-to-wear and more to retailers worldwide. Born in the Philippines and drawn to art and music, Natori immigrated to New York to pursue a career in business. She graduated from Manhattanville College with an economics degree and joined Merrill Lynch, where she became the first female vice president in investment banking.
She entered the world of fashion in 1977 when, on a whim, she showed a Filipino embroidered blouse to a buyer at Bloomingdale’s. The buyer suggested she lengthen the blouse and sell it as a sleepshirt — and so the Natori Company was born. The company has expanded to include the brand collections Josie Natori, Natori, Josie and N Natori, with products ranging from ready-to-wear, eveningwear, lingerie and sleepwear to home textiles and accessories, bath, fragrance and legwear. Natori sits on the boards of the Asian Cultural Council, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines. She is also a member of the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) and the Committee of 200. Natori received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 at the Femmy Gala, the premier fundraising event in the intimate apparel industry. She received the Galleon Award from Philippines President Corazon Aquino in 1988 and the Lakandula Award from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2007. Fashion Group International has honored her with its Humanitarian Award.
Josie Cruz Natori
With heavy hearts we acknowledge the passing of two very important champions of the Fashion School at Kent State. Their legacies will live on in the talented students whom they have supported over their many years of engagement with the school. We miss you, Bob and Rex.
Bob Broadbent and his wife, Mary, became involved with the school in the early 1980s, when Bob was CEO of the Higbee Company in Cleveland. Bob provided encouragement to Shannon Rogers and Jerry Silverman, the two men who would help create the Fashion School, and made a personal commitment to do whatever he could to help the school. Bob is the largest individual donor to the Fashion School in its history, second only to Shannon and Jerry. In addition, as a trustee of the John P. Murphy Foundation, Bob facilitated the investment of significant funds, on behalf of the foundation, to support the school and the museum. Bob passed away last summer; his years of dedication and immense financial impact represent an incalculable legacy.
O. Rex Damron, Ph.D.
Rex and Geneva Damron have been long-term benefactors of the Fashion School. Recognizing early on that the program would be exceptional, they worked with Shannon Rogers and Jerry Silverman in the 1980s to introduce them to the Kent community and to ensure community investment in the school. They have been ardent supporters of the Friends of Fashion and recently created a new foundation, North East Ohio Community Education Foundation (NEOCEF), to provide scholarships for future generations of fashion students. Rex passed away last summer, leaving Geneva to continue his legacy of philanthropy and engagement at Kent State’s Fashion School.
800 E. Summit St., Kent OH 44240
P.O. Box 5190, Kent, OH 44242-0001