While 2020 has proven to be a year of unprecedented change and opportunity, one thing remains clear for Harlem’s Fashion Row and Gap Inc., their shared commitment to help scale the businesses and work of designers of color in the fashion industry. As one of the largest specialty retailers in the world, they believe it’s our responsibility to lead the industry and create opportunities for professionals of color and uplift voices that historically have been overlooked. That’s why this year they expanded our ongoing partnership with Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR), an organization that supports emerging talent and provides a platform for underrepresented African American and Latinx designers. HFR provides a voice for designers of color through a creative platform and connection point enabling them to sell and present their collections to key leaders in the fashion industry.
Last week, they sponsored HFR’s second annual Designer Retreat, a (now) virtual event that was packed with meaningful discussions, breakout sessions, and awards that brought talented designers of color together with our brands – Janie and Jack, Banana Republic and INTERMIX – along with others in the fashion industry such as NIKE, Vogue, Ralph Lauren and more.
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The event was an important touchstone for an array of exciting programs across our brands:
They announced the winner of a $10,000 grant from the $25,000 contribution that Janie and Jack donated to HFR’s nonprofit initiative ICON 360. Keresee Dorcely, founder of Six/20 – a luxury sportswear brand for women who value style and comfort equally – won the prize for her strong brand pitch and clear vision. The grant was given to allow her to scale her business as a fashion designer.
“Every designer knows how much hard work goes into creating every piece so for you to recognize my vision, thank you,” said Keresse upon receiving the grant. Congrats, Keresse!
Shelly Walsh, Head of Janie and Jack, spoke with Brandice Daniel, CEO and Founder of HFR, about her journey of perseverance to save the business in the past when the brand was facing incredible hardship. “Retail is a ‘get up and go’ every day. You have to be passionate and have grit and fortitude to manage through. The industry can be very hard, but super gratifying.”
And, earlier this year, Janie and Jack announced a collaboration collection for kids, designed by three HFR designers launching later this fall online and in Janie and Jack stores. At the retreat, the designers shared their experiences designing for kids (some for the first time!) and how they had the freedom to express their unique styles while maintaining the brand’s aesthetic. Stay tuned for more details on the collaboration this fall.
Omar Nobil, Head of Women’s Design at Banana Republic joined to get to know the designers and share an exciting update about the brand – details coming soon! In addition, Adam Mohamed, Head of Trend and Concept at Banana Republic gave the designers a virtual tour of the design studio in San Francisco and had one-on-one conversations with designers about their career aspirations and navigating the industry.
Brandice hosted an intimate discussion with designers and Jyothi Rao, President at INTERMIX, on career advice and what it takes for a designer to stand out in a competitive market. INTERMIX was founded 26 years ago with the business model of mixing high-end fashion with contemporary brands. That’s still true for the brand today, as Jyothi shared — “We are always looking to represent new and emerging brands into our mix.”
Stay tuned for more details on Gap Inc.’s collaboration with HFR and learn more about HFR here.