It was presented to Macy’s in recognition of the retailer’s contributions towards the advancement of minorities during a standing-room only New York Fashion Week event on Thursday evening.
HFR’s event showcased three new designers’ collection and celebrated the works of fashion designers, celebrity stylists, and media personalities, including HFR “Icon 360” award winner actress Tracee Ellis Ross, of TV’s hit comedy, Black-ish, and “Trailblazer Award” winner Bevy Smith, of Bravo’s Fashion Queens.
Since its inception eight years ago, Harlem’s Fashion Row, an influential arts and entertainment organization, has established itself as a platform for emerging fashion talent of color and has featured more than 30 designers of color during its Fashion Week shows. HFRs mission is to discover and showcase these up and coming talents and to provide them with real business opportunities in an industry that is not often accessible to them. HFR’s Vanguard Award is given to an organization connected to the fashion industry that it feels deserves to be recognized for helping the advancement of people of color in fashion over time.
“Years ago, Macy’s was known to be one of the largest retailer’s in the world and today Macy’s is [also] known for several firsts that changed retail forever, including their effort to diversify fashion – from the bottom to the top,” Harlem’s Fashion Row CEO Brandice Henderson told the style trailblazers, fashion influencers, and celebrities in attendance, including singer Mary J. Blige.
Harlem’s Fashion Row specifically recognized the retailer’s commitment to supporting and nurturing designers of color, like B Michael, the iconic fashion legend whose glamourous designs are beloved by celebrities, such as Beyoncé, Cicely Tyson, and Angela Bassett. His ready-to-wear collection, B Michael America Red, is featured exclusively at Macy’s. In addition, the group highlighted Macy’s “dedication to vendor diversity” advancements, inclusive of its Fashion Incubators and women and minority vendor development program.
Henderson presented the award to Shawn Outler, Macy’s Senior Vice-President of Multicultural Business Development, who accepted on behalf of Macy’s. In her speech, Henderson pointed out that in her roles at the retailer, Outler “has permanently created opportunities for all sorts of multicultural designers, like B Michael, and many others. The work she has done on the Macy’s platform and her eye for noticing the need of diversity are [why we’ve selected] her and Macy’s for the 2105 Vanguard Award.”
Outler shared how the vendor and supplier diversity business development program that she authored in 2011, The Workshop at Macy’s, has helped created fashion and retail success stories by providing more than 71 designers and multicultural businesses with the real-world tools and knowledge to take them to the next level in the retail marketplace. In fact, she noted how proud it made her to see several past participants of the weeklong annual program, which features courses on marketing, financing, sourcing, assortment planning and merchandising, in attendance at the HFR event.
“On behalf of Macy’s, we’d like to thank …the entire Harlem’s Fashion Row organization for this incredible honor. To acknowledge Macy’s contribution is clearly a distinction of note for our entire company,” Outler said. HFR’s work is “truly making a difference in putting Black fashion and its designers at the forefront,” Outler added after the event. “From our fashion incubators, which cultivate design talent of all backgrounds in several cities across the country to The Workshop at Macy’s…Macy’s has been at the forefront of engaging and supporting multi-ethnic, diverse talent that will shape the future of fashion.”
In addition to Macy’s, HFR honored many fashion industry power players with awards, including actress Tracee Ellis Ross (“Icon 360 Award”); Bevy Smith, of Bravo’s Fashion Queens (“Trailblazer Award”); international celebrity fashion stylists Groovey Lew (“Maverick Award”) and Misa Hylton (“Maverick Award”); Rachel Johnson, of the Thomas Faison Agency (“Stylist of the Year Award”); Azede Jean-Pierre (“Designer of the Year” Award), and Kahlana Barfield, InStyle Magazine Fashion & Beauty Editor (“Editor of the Year” Award).
Following the awards presentations, HFR presented the collections of three emerging designers of color: Meagan Wellman (M-SEW), Thulare Monareng (The Fashion Deli), and Fe Noel (Fe Noel). Their works were also given a major platform when HFR presented them to fashion editors and influencers through a series of New York Fashion Week events, including a fashion editors’ preview lunch, an Awards luncheon, and a Shop, Brunch, and Be Social Pop-Up Shop.