As Black History Month comes to an end, we attended the third annual Digital Fashion Summit powered by Harlem's Fashion Row (HFR). Running on a live stream for 8-hours and sponsored by American Eagle Outfitters, the digital summit held interviews with fashion designers, fashion icons, and fashion companies we all know and love. However, their overall mission was to bring awareness to Black & multi-cultural designers on the rise, mentorship for those designers, and the best ways to support them. Throughout the summit, they awarded designers of color an ICON 360 award. This award is HFR's non-profit organization's commitment to uplift and support Black-owned designers and businesses during the pandemic.
Brandice Daniel, the founder of Harlem's Fashion Row, stated, "This summit was so different from our other summits in that we directly discussed race across all of the conversations. We also covered so many important topics for people of color. Our goal was to cover it all: from HBCUs to Black designers' state to retailer's response to how brands can collaborate with Black designers. My team had to ask me to stop adding panels politely, or we would be at the summit all night."
We sat down with Brandice to uncover what’s next for Harlem’s Fashion Row and the overall mission behind the organization.
Jade Robinson: What is the mission behind Harlem's Fashion Row?
BD: Our goal with HFR is to create a bridge between retailers and designers of color in fashion through brand strategy, collaborations, experiential marketing, recruiting, and pipeline programs.
JR: What's next for Harlem's Fashion Row?
BD: We will be working on our third annual designer retreat right after the summit. Our retreat attracts 75 + designers of color, and the goal is to provide them with the information they need to grow in their businesses or careers.
JR: How important is it to highlight Black designers on the rise?
BD: Black designers need our continued support. Most of them are not funded, and bootstrapping a business is incredibly difficult to do. It's critical that we support them with our resources, access, and dollars.
A quick glimpse into some of the guest for this year's summit include:
- Sergio Hudson, Creative Director & Designer- Best known for styling Mrs. Michelle Obama and Madame Vice President Kamala Harris
- Alexis Bennett, Commerce Editor at Vogue
- Kimberly Jenkins, Assistant Professor of Fashion Studies at Ryerson University
- Dr. Elka Stevens, Associate Professor Fashion Program, Howard University
- Dr.Joyce Brown, President, F.I.T
- BJ Arnett, Interim Chair Art & Fashion, Clark Atlanta University
- Roopal Patel, Fashion Director of Saks Fifth Ave