From political science ... to Justin Bieber’s boxers.
These seemingly incongruous topics merge in the dynamic career track of UAlbany graduate and fashion executive Cheryl Abel-Hodges.
The former poli-sci major is president of The Underwear Group and Global Calvin Klein Underwear. She oversees the underwear and intimate business segments for PVH, the apparel giant behind such iconic fashion brands as Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and IZOD – contributing to annual sales north of $8 billion.
Calvin Klein Underwear is commonly associated with provocative marketing campaigns featuring celebrity endorsers, such as Kendall Jenner and the aforementioned Bieber. Behind the scenes, however, Abel-Hodges and her team manage the business side of the brand – from helming design and production to devising global market strategies.
She has been with PVH for a decade, following stints at Polo Ralph Lauren, Liz Claiborne and May Merchandising Company (part of May Department Stores, which merged with Macy’s in 2005).
It all began when the onetime aspiring attorney took what she thought would be a minor career detour after graduating from UAlbany: She enrolled in the Bloomingdale’s Executive Training Program.
“I actually thought I would go to law school, but once I started working at Bloomingdale’s ... I realized that I loved it,” explained Abel-Hodges. As a longtime aficionado of clothing, shoes and accessories, she decided to pursue her passion and chart her own path in the retail and wholesale fashion industry.
“It’s a sector where nothing ever stays the same, which is both exciting and challenging,” said Abel-Hodges. “You learn something new every day.”
She mentioned that “managing great teams, growing great brands and working with great retail partners” are among her favorite things about her current role.
The proud mother of two college students credits UAlbany with giving her “a great educational foundation” and says that “I loved my time and experience there.”