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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

CFDA Supports the Next Generation of Fashion Designers with Scholarships and Mentors – WWD

The Council of Fashion Designers of America, celebrating its 60th anniversary, is deeply committed to supporting and nurturing the next generation of fashion talent, and has established educational initiatives to help aspiring fashion designers during their careers. college years and the early stages of their careers.

Scholarships have been a major focus of CFDA’s work, and the organization recognizes the ongoing financial and resource challenges students face.

In addition to awarding scholarship money, the CFDA provides mentoring and professional development.

Since 1996, the CFDA has awarded approximately $3.34 million through 352 scholarships, which are earmarked for tuition and thesis or portfolio fundraising. For the second year in a row, CFDA has met its goal of awarding $500,000 to 26 academic students, and more than 80 percent of this year’s recipients are people of gender and ethnic diversity, or from underrepresented communities.

“We’re meeting financial needs more successfully than ever,” said Sara Kozlowski, CFDA’s vice president of program strategies, education and sustainability initiatives. She said last year the group introduced new criteria in which it considers financial need, along with talent and career potential. This scholarship helps cover the enormous costs of attending colleges and universities and students’ senior theses.

“As we start asking our students more questions, we learn a lot. Hearing that a thesis collection is at least $5,000, up to $15,000, speaks to how important it is that we continue to provide the scholarship and mentorship,” she said.

Many fellows over the years have gone on to prominent positions in the fashion industry, including Peter Som (1996), Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler (2001), Chris Benz (2003), Michelle Ochs (2006), and Peter Do (2013). . Recent winners include Jacques Agbobly, founder of Black Boy knits, (2019) and Uyen Tran, co-founder of materials innovation Tomtex (2020).

For the next round of 2023, the scholarships are awarded to college juniors and graduating freshmen who graduate in 2024 and are enrolled in a fashion design program at an American college or university.

Recent CFDA Scholarship Fund selection committee participants include industry-leading designers Brandon Blackwood, Dao-Yi Chow, Emily Adams Bode Aujla, Mara Hoffman, Nadja Swarovski, Stacey Bendet, and Stuart Vevers, among others.

The CFDA has expanded its reach and now has an open access application approach. There are open enrollment and question-and-answer sessions aimed at planting relationships in new areas, including historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions with fashion design-related pathways.

All CFDA scholarships are awarded based on a holistic criteria of financial need, talent, career potential combined with specific criteria of specialization. On average, the CFDA receives 350 applications a year, and the next round of applications opens in January.

Kozlowski has said in the past that they would accept six submissions from each school, but now they can take 100 applications from a particular school. “There is no barrier, they will also review applications from any school that has a program focused on fashion. Previously, it was an invitation-only opportunity,” Kozlowski said.

The CFDA has been working to build relationships in regions outside of New York and Los Angeles. “That’s why Steve [Kolb, chief executive officer of the CFDA] is very excited about our partnership with Crystal Bridges and the truly dedicated funding to support heart-based talent.”

The organization awards CFDA Design Scholar Awards, which are $25,000 scholarships for juniors and first-year graduate students who are enrolled in a fashion design program at an American college or university. Recipients must demonstrate strength in one or more of these specializations: Apparel, Accessories, Experiential Design, and Materiality. They are also required to link their work to one or more of these special focus areas: 360 DEI, Imaging, Sustainability, and Digital Technology/Crafts.

Other key awards include the Geoffrey Beene Design Masters Scholar Award, honoring the late Geoffrey Beene. It is a $50,000 scholarship for a first-year graduate student enrolled in a fashion design program at an American college or university. The successful candidate challenges conventional codes of dressing the body by exploring 360 shapes and forms, material innovation, and size inclusion.

There is also the Liz Claiborne Design Award or Impactful Futures Scholar Award, which was established in 2009 and is a $25,000 scholarship specifically for first-year graduate students who identify as female.

The Geoffrey Beene and Liz Claiborne Awards are in perpetuity.

There are also associated awards, such as the Coach Dream It Real x CFDA Circular Design Scholar, which is in its second year and awarded 15 fellows in 2022, totaling $200,000; CFDA x Häagen-Dazs Scholar, which underwrote four $25,000 scholarships this year, and the Swarovski Foundation + Re:Generation Innovation Scholar Award, which awards a $30,000 scholarship for each of three years, along with mentorship.

A portfolio page from 2022 winner Angel Pan for the Coach Dream It Real x CFDA Circular Design Scholar Award.

In 2023, the CFDA will launch the CFDA x Crystal Bridges Heartland Scholars Award, for design students who were born in America’s heartland states, call America’s heartland home, have lived there for more than five years, or they are studying in a heartland of America. condition. The Walton Foundation has donated $350,000 to the CFDA Scholarship Fund, made possible through the donation and direction of Olivia Walton.

Through CFDA’s partnership with the Elaine Gold Launchpad and Accessories Council, three participants in 2023 will receive mentorship through a seven-week program combined with micro-grants totaling $105,000. Each founder will receive $30,000 with an additional “resource grant” that earmarks $5,000 in funding for sustainable strategies related to learning tools, business services, and resources. Supported by industry professionals, participants will learn how to navigate the complex fashion supply chain and be challenged to make responsible business and design decisions that integrate youth culture and community building through collaboration with the Lower Eastside Girl’s Club.

The program is geared toward women of color who have founded their own business and have been in business for three years or less. Between 2017 and 2020, the program awarded $700,000 in microgrants and mentorship to 16 emerging brands based on sustainability, innovation and technology.

For CFDA, the mentoring part is critical.

With the Swarovski Foundation, for example, the CFDA conducts “diagnostic sessions” after awarding fellows for tailoring mentoring, Kozlowski said.

Last year’s winner was Bailey Adams, a BFA fashion design student from Giles, Tennessee, studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The scholarship was applied in full to Adam’s senior year tuition and thesis year study expenses. He was paired with Runa Ray, who did the Steven Kolb look at the Met Gala earlier this year, and did seven mentoring sessions with Adams on topics such as sustainable strategies, biomaterials innovation and circularity, and invited Bailey into professional development. of CFDA. Workshops around sustainability.

A 2022 winner, Isabella Kostrzewa, is a Parsons student who is interested in recycling and has a business model in mind for after graduation. Several CFDA members have been talking to her about sustainable business and establishing a brand. She is receiving six months of tutoring.

This is the second year of association with the Coach and Coach Foundation. “The mentorship that his team is investing in and leading is incredible,” Kozlowski said. “Of the 15 fellows invited to opt for a circular design project, 13 of them have been assigned to the project. They’re working with Joon Silverstein, Coach’s vice president of sustainability.

“What they are working on is top secret, they have been receiving an internship fee for their time. They are creating a prototype of something that they will bring to the world in February and March. Each of the fellows receives one-on-one mentoring from multiple Coach experts, matching interests such as the fashion business and sourcing. It is an incredible commitment. They also hosted a luncheon for them during New York Fashion Week and invited them to the show,” she said.

The CFDA has also increased the number of recipients of its CFDA Scholarships. In 2019 they awarded seven scholarships and this past September there were 26 scholarships. When Kozlowski joined in 2018, they were awarding $100,000 annually through the CFDA, Claiborne and Beene. Now with Coach, Swarovski, Haagen-Dazs and Crystal Bridges, along with Claiborne and Beene, they give $500,000.

Kozlowski said fellows are invited to professional development, panels and workshops. “We are very small and we hope that we will always maintain that relationship. As we start to grow the fund, we’ll see more examples of them getting into programs like the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund or becoming CFDA members,” he said.

The CFDA also offers professional development to its members, which is currently offered virtually through webinars and panel discussions. This year, topics have included B Corp certification, sustainability, the metaverse, and technology. The CFDA also has individual office hours, so there are check-in sessions to discuss everything from financing to sourcing materials. Currently, there is a series of investments exploring how to channel investment opportunities for companies with diverse ownership as well.

“We have always believed in supporting the 360-degree lifecycle of talent. Now we can see the progression, where someone like Jacques Agbobly, founder of CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner Black Boy Knits, was just a CFDA Fellow in 2019. We can’t wait to see what happens about Jacques. It is understanding that this generation will lead us to innovate and solve real problems through all the urgencies we have, whether thinking about materials or new ways of thinking. We are investing more than ever in the future of students,” Kozlowski said.

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