Joan Vass (1925 – 2011) began her career as a writer and editor of works about art. She developed an interest in hand-knits, and in the early 1970s began designing hats and scarves which were hand-knit by local (New York) knitters. The line was picked up by Henri Bendel in 1975.
In 1977 she formed Joan Vass, NY, for which she designed hand-knit sweaters and dresses and also included garments made of quality woven fabrics. She often incorporated the printed selvage of a fabric into her design.
In the 1980s Joan Vass expanded into a lower-priced line, Joan Vass, USA. These clothes were mainly made of natural fiber knits that were cut and sewn into comfortable separates.
Joan Vass retired in 2006. In 2010 the business was licensed through Global Sourcing and Design. Clothing under the Joan Vass brand is still being produced.