The prolonged threat of COVID-19 has disrupted many of our regularly scheduled events this year, but fashion waits for no one—and New York Fashion Week (NYFW) will be going on as planned this September 13-16, albeit virtually (which should hopefully make it more accessible to fashion lovers everywhere). The Council of Fashion Designers of America released the Spring Fashion Week schedule on Thursday morning, and while NYFW may seem one of our more frivolous pursuits—especially given an unprecedented amount of chaos currently in our midst—it might be just the happy distraction we need right now.
Making this season’s schedule all the more meaningful is the news that NYFW will launch with designers of color. Specifically, designer Jason Wu (a longtime favorite of Michelle Obama) and several Black designers sponsored by Harlem’s Fashion Row will present on CFDA’s Runway 360 virtual platform, which “supports 360-degree capabilities, live video-streams, e-commerce extensions, consumer shopping features, and social media integrations,” according to a release sent to The Glow Up, which also read:
On Sunday, September 13th, 2020, Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR) will celebrate their 13th annual Style Awards & Fashion Show experience in partnership with children’s fashion brand, Janie and Jack. In the truest HFR form, the event with celebratory roots will honor Editors in Chief Edward Enninful of British Vogue, Lindsey Peoples Wagner of Teen VOGUE, Designer Kerby Jean Raymond (actress Tracee Ellis Ross will be presenting his award), and Publicist Nate Hinton. The collections of Kimberly Goldson, Rich Fresh, and Kristian Lorén will be presented.
The virtual event will also honor HFR’s surprise ICON 360 recipient; an encore presentation will be available to the public following the closing night of NYFW on Saturday, September 19, 2020, during which HFR will host a Q&A with the presenting designers, provide networking opportunities, and present an open discussion with HFR Founder and CEO, Brandice Daniel.
“The mission is to continue the work for BIPOC designers to gain opportunities in fashion, despite a global pandemic,” reads the release. “This award season, HFR has garnered the support and resources to turn the hopes of providing an opportunity to BIPOC designers into reality.”
This news follows the spring announcement of the launch of HFR’s nonprofit ICON 360, which was created to financially assist BIPOC designers during the global crisis. CFDA/Vogue’s A Common Thread subsequently donated $1 million to the initiative; the top winning designers of the first ICON 360/VOGUE Common Thread award will be announced during the virtual fashion event.
Building on their continued advocacy, mentorship and promotion of BIPOC design talents, HFR tells us they have also recently formed a partnership with RAISEFashion, “an organization that connects black-owned brands and individuals directly to fashion industry professionals and creatives.” This is in addition to their partnership with their title sponsor, children’s brand Janie and Jack, with which three HFR designers have also created the HFR x Janie and Jack collection, which will be teased during NYFW.
“After meeting Brandice, Harlem’s Fashion Row’s Founder, and learning more about their impactful mission to connect brands with emerging multicultural designers, I knew they would make the perfect partner for us,” said Shelly Walsh, SVP and general manager of Janie and Jack. “We are committed to highlighting people of color who inspire us, and are honored to work with three of HFR’s talented designers to create a collection that perfectly blends their unique designs with our modern-classic aesthetic. It truly is unlike anything we’ve debuted before, and we’re excited to preview a few looks at HFR’s Style Awards & Fashion Show before our official October launch.”
Shea Moisture, Nike and Gap Inc. are also longtime HFR partners in their ongoing efforts to support fashion designers of color, making possible this season’s virtual event. It will be the third for the organization since the COVID pandemic; a remarkable accomplishment as many other organizations and brands are still scrambling to adapt to our new normal.
“We’re honored to partner with Harlem Fashion Row and support the work they’re doing for Black creatives,” says Cara Sabin, CEO of SheaMoisture. “It’s inspiring to work alongside an organization that shares our commitment of reinvesting in the communities we serve and is paving the way for them to succeed,”