Harlem’s Fashion Row collaborates with LVMH to support several fashion talents

Joining together to support the next generation of diverse fashion talent, Harlem’s Fashion Row has partnered with LVMH North America through which the two organizations will work for a more diverse, equitable and inclusive fashion industry.

Revealing the partnership at a press conference on Wednesday morning at the Whitby Hotel in New York, the partnership marks LVMH’s commitment to support HFR’s mission to discover, guide and showcase emerging color talent through high-visibility cross-platform events and programs. custom pipelines.

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LVMH has committed resources to address the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion across the industry through people, company and brand initiatives and to support the next generation of diverse talent.

One of the key initiatives revealed at Wednesday’s press conference is that LVMH will be the main sponsor of the 15th annual Harlem’s Fashion Row Fashion Show and Style Awards in New York on September 6 in Harlem.

The goal of the partnership is to open the doors to the next generation of talented black, indigenous and people of color designers and connect emerging black designers to the global luxury brands of the LVMH group, ranging from Louis Vuitton and Tiffany to Christian Dior, Fendi and Sefora. .

“This is the largest partnership we’ve ever had in North America and we couldn’t be more excited about it. Of course, there is a D&I component to this, but first and foremost it’s about celebrating Harlem’s incredible wealth of heritage, history, culture, art and innovation and bringing it to our world. We are looking for creative talents in the world, it is our competitive advantage. It is the future of each of our brands, ”said Anish Melwani, LVMH CEO for North America.

“Through this partnership, HFR and LVMH North America look forward to continuing their mission of giving color designers access to individuals and organizations who can help shape their future,” said Brandice Daniel, CEO and founder of HFR. “We have successfully introduced a wide range of different designers into a world-class fashion curriculum comprised of invaluable tools and resources to grow their businesses and educated Gen Z on how they too can change the course of fashion. At the same time, we have created opportunities for young people to engage from high school by meeting the marginalized, especially HBCU students where they are in their career in fashion. “

Brands across the LVMH portfolio, including Tiffany and Louis Vuitton, will continue to partner with HFR to provide mentoring and activation opportunities throughout the year and beyond. Some examples of supported initiatives include:

  • THE HFR Icon 360 HBCU Summit: The HBCU Summit aims to transform art and fashion programs in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States by providing design expertise led by industry experts. In partnership with HFR and the A&T Department of Art and Fashion at North Carolina A&T State University, Tiffany & Co. will sponsor the Tenacity Talks, a 10-week conference series featuring industry experts on topics such as jewelry design and innovation. .

  • HFR’S Designer Retreat: This three-day retreat hosted more than 75 designers and saw the participation of several fashion speakers. During Industry Stops, the designers were able to visit Louis Vuitton’s North American offices and meet executives, including Lanessa Elrod, zone president and CEO, and Thomas Haupt, senior vice president of US Retail.

  • Black History Month Summit: Providing a forum for conversation with industry leaders, LVMH’s Melwani and D&I Vice President Corey Smith joined Daniel to discuss the current state of diversity in fashion.

Smith said, “LVMH is committed to making a positive impact in our communities and fulfilling the path taken by Virgil Abloh and others who have helped promote equity and inclusion in the fashion industry by supporting and building a diverse talent pool. It is critical for LVMH as an organization to continue to develop color talent internally while ensuring the relevance of our brands and products to a diverse and evolving consumer landscape. We see this partnership with HFR as a wonderful opportunity to focus on values, culture, business and community at the same time, since these notions are not mutually exclusive, but are interconnected and mutually reinforcing “.

Daniel explained how the two organizations have come together and how it is working so far. “We are so excited about our partnership with LVMH. We had a conversation last year in the offices and that conversation created such a rich partnership with a few different initiatives. They were truly amazing partners, ”said Daniel. He said HFR has always been very thoughtful about brands to partner with, “and this brand is really doing the job.”

According to Melwani, he was introduced to the organization at HFR’s 14th annual fashion show and figured out “how he taps into this incredible wealth of talent right here in our backyard.”

He also said that when he learned about the organization and their designers, he realized they share many of the same values. “LVMH’s values ​​are entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation and a commitment to excellence, all of which are consistent with Harlem Fashion Week programs,” said Melwani.

Gena Smith, head of human resources at LVMH North America, said the company has a longstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and launched its first job in 2011. He said the value LVMH’s key number one are its people. “People make a difference. Everything we have at LVMH and all the reasons for our group’s success depend on the people, ”she said. You said it’s the people who make the product, market the product, and talk about it. “How can we make sure the best, smartest and most creative people want to work for LVMH?” she said.

Corey Smith also went to the HFR 14th Annual Show last year after joining LVMH during the pandemic. “Your show was the first show I went to as a rookie in this industry during New York Fashion Week, and if there’s another better way to get introduced to this industry, it doesn’t exist. I was amazed. They took control of an entire block of Harlem and made it phenomenal. “After it was all over, he hunted down Daniel and Felita Harris, HFR’s Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer, and said,” I need to this next year. The level of luxury, attention to detail, diversity and inclusion that were organic to the event. ” He said there were people with disabilities and a range of skin tones and colors and gender fluidity. “He physically manifested everything we’re trying to accomplish at LVMH in a show and a light bulb went out,” Corey Smith said.

He said LVMH wants to align with organizations that can help them do the things that on their own they might need help to do. He also said that this partnership is two-way. “It’s not just cutting a big check and saying do it. It’s really about having things to offer, but you also have things you can help us learn, ”said Cory Smith.

Melwani pointed out that this is what everyone has learned from Virgil Abloh, the late art director of Louis Vuitton menswear. “Virgil taught by doing, not just speaking. In fact, he spoke very little. It was only after George Floyd’s murder that he came to us and wanted to speak internally to all of our people. Otherwise, he talked about his work about him. What he showed us, in this industry, there are so many barriers, there are so many privileges that need to be countered and how difficult it is for any emerging designer to break through and simply be seen and have their work discovered. He did it by bringing people with him, be they make-up artists, models and other creative directors. Only by making them visible and giving them access to this privileged world … makes it better. For us, as an organization, we still have a lot to learn and unfortunately we have not been able to finish all of Virgil’s lessons ”.

Access is an important piece that color designers have missed, Daniel said.

Corey Smith said they constantly talk about the importance of LVMH in the future. “We have a very rich brand heritage, a very rich brand DNA, always look back, all our founders and how they started, very entrepreneurial. What is our future relevance? The only way we’re going to continue to be relevant in the future is if we start tapping into new creators, new designers. The future looks very different from the past. We have recognized it, we understand it and we embrace it. Again, he has good business sense. “


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