A Global Children‘s Clothing Empire, 125 Years in the Making.

What began as a sewing factory in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1889 has evolved into a world leader in girl’s fashions. For four generations, Howard Kahn’s family has taken pride in putting smiles on the faces of little girls and their loved ones under the Kahn Lucas™ banner.

In addition to being executive chairman of Kahn Lucas, Howard is also executive chairman of Madame Alexander, the 92-year-old iconic doll brand, which Kahn Lucas acquired a few years ago. Since then, the company has combined branded apparel, toys, dolls and fashion accessories “to promote an entire lifestyle experience for young girls based on imagination, open-ended play and creativity,” he explains. As a child, however, Howard didn’t quite get it. “I had zero design ability and I didn’t play with dolls,” he said with a chuckle. “So when I was growing up, I looked at girl’s fashion and dolls only as products. I didn’t realize the passion behind it until I saw what it meant to my daughter.”

Howard joined the company after college when he was working in IT at WalMart. “My father asked me to join him, so how could I refuse?” he says.

Black and white portrait of Howard Kahn Black and white portrait of Howard Kahn

IDB helps me address challenges with fantastic advice and a perspective on best practices, which allows me to focus on running my business.”
Howard Kahn
at Kahn Lucas Lancaster Inc.
Manhattan, New York

Then he followed what can only be described as a traditional apprenticeship, at first spending a few years in the factory learning about operations and how to sew, then going to New York where he learned how to sell, and then on trips abroad when the company developed its import business. “It was a lot of difficult work, but it was a phenomenal learning experience— my version of an MBA,” he says.

As if running the company isn’t enough, Howard is also the founder of Patterns For Progress®—a joint initiative with the international charitable organization CARE®, which is focused on helping mothers around the world become self-sufficient in providing clothes for their children.

The Design Studio
Kahn Lucas works on a 6 week cycle, constantly innovating and creating new designs.
Stripes and a rainbow of colors provide inspiration.

It started when the company began donating dresses to the Grace Center for Children and Families in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. Deeply touched by the impact the donations were having, Howard saw the potential of doing more when he learned about a program in India that sold pre-cut jeans components to individuals, who could take the kits to tailors and pay them a fraction of the cost of a pair of finished jeans. Since this was a commercial enterprise, which benefited the individual as well as the local economy, Howard recognized the potential in creating an entirely new program that empowered caregivers and created self sufficiency.

“We’re giving parents the tools to make their clothes, and it’s very rewarding to see how much we’re helping people who have had so little in their lives,” Howard says. “As I learned a long time ago, passion is the key to success.”

Susan Callaghan
Banker, Commercial Lending, IDB Bank
IDB is fantastic.
They really understand the ups and downs of the apparel business, and other banks don’t. For me, this is a breath of fresh air because they add value to the relationship.”
Howard Kahn
at Kahn Lucas Lancaster Inc.
Manhattan, New York

Black and white portrait of Howard Kahn laughing


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