STYLE WATCH: Harlem’s Fashion Row Connects Designers with Fashion Industry Professionals During Fashion Week
Tomorrow, at the close of New York’s famed Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, the Studio Museum in Harlem will be locale of the the Third Annual Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR) showcase. The fashion exhibition and presentation highlights emerging designers of color. This year, HFR has selected Niiamar, Telfar, Sammy B. and Viscera NY to be a part of the showcase.
The HFR showcase was created to bring awareness and visibility to an existing community of talented minority designers, who otherwise may not have the opportunity to showcase their collections during Fashion Week. They introduce the designers to an audience of top editors, buyers and industry influencers. Also, as a part of it’s greater mission to develop lasting partnerships and mentorships with editors, buyers and showrooms, this year’s HFR event is designed to prioritize bottom line sales and will include an on-site center for post show market appointments for interested buyers and attendees.
“The topic of diversity in fashion continues to become more and more relevant,” said Brandice Henderson, founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row. “From the recent conversations about diversity hiring practices in fashion publishing, to panel discussions on the lack of black models on the runways during Fashion Week, to the all Black issue of Italian Vogue and the development of Black Vogue.it, it is clear that there is an ongoing discussion about limited opportunities for minorities in fashion. HFR is a response to these limited opportunities from a designer’s perspective and is focused specifically on addressing their needs.”
According to HFR research, African-American and Latino designers represent less than one percent of non “urban” brands found in department stores; yet, minorities spend over $22 billion dollars on apparel or clothing each year.
“There is undoubtedly an existing void in the market where minority designers are severely underrepresented,” added Henderson. “These minority designers certainly exist, and they are just as — if not more — talented than the top designers and brands in the market. HFR seeks to provide the visibility, resources and a business infrastructure that will allow these designers to succeed in the mainstream.”
Established in 2007 as a one time fashion show, Harlem Fashion Row has evolved into a 35 member organization of volunteers and professionals in the fashion industry. The team ranges from recent college graduates looking to gain entry and experience in the fashion industry, to experienced marketers, fashion show producers, artists, photographers, graphic designers, entrepreneurs, PR practitioners, sourcing specialists, stylists, showroom managers and buyers. Most HFR team members work in the industry for major fashion or apparel brands, manufacturers and showrooms. Many, but not all, HFR team members are residents of Harlem.
HFR is supported by a 2010 Advisory Board consisting of a diverse range of established and new members of the fashion and art communities, including: Julee Wilson, Zandile Blay, Audrey Smaltz, Terrie Williams, Dinna Soliman, Najwa Moses, Kiki Kitty, Rene Garza, Valentina Izaguirre, Xavier Artis, Bill Hodges and Michael Henry Adams.
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