The reformatted structure provides grants and personal mentorship to all 10 finalists.
Fashion over the past year has taken some invigorating approaches –– from innovative digital runway shows to an almost complete 180 from the traditional collection schedule to begin with. One of the most coveted prizes that’s helped catapult the likes of Pyer Moss, Christopher John Rogers, and Telfar, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, has also restructured in the wake of a history changing year for fashion and the world at large.
The fund will now be given to 10 selected finalists in contrast to past years where there was one $400,000 grand prize and two $150,000 rewards for the runner-ups. The 2021 format grants funds and one year of mentorship from industry leaders to an inspiring collective of designers. With the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund’s mission being to support and nurture rising American talent, it's uplifting to see such invaluable resources awarded to a promising group of aspiring designers. In addition to the young emerging designers who were invited to apply for the 2021 grant, past CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists as well as applicants and recipients of A Common Thread, a grant program launched to support American fashion businesses, were also invited.
This year’s finalists are: Batsheva Hay of Batsheva; Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta of Eckhaus Latta; Anifa Mvuemba of Hanifa; Rebecca Henry and Akua Shabaka of House of Aama; Kenneth Nicholson; Jameel Mohammed of Khiry; LaQuan Smith; Abrima Erwiah of Studio 189; and Willy Chavarria.
Courtesy of Batsheva
Courtesy of Alex Antitch
Courtesy of Hanifa
Courtesy of House of Amaa
Courtesy of Kenneth Nicholson
Courtesy of Jameel Mohammed
Courtesy of LaQuan Smith
Courtesy of Abrima Erwiah
Courtesy of Theophilio
Courtesy of Willy Chavarria
These independent designers are indeed, paving their own respective lanes within fashion, community, art, and culture. Womenswear brand Hanifa presented a trailblazing digital fashion show featuring invisible, full-figured 3-D models strutting the Congolese inspired collection. While an unexpected pivot due to the pandemic, Anifa Mvuemba’s vision and execution of this show truly set the bar for future shows in the digital space.
Edvin Thompson of contemporary brand Theophilio is continuing to strengthen the label’s ongoing narrative with a recent collaboration with Black Fashion Fair for an exclusive capsule collection of tees inspired by Thompson’s Jamaican childhood. The partnership with the conceptual e-commerce platform celebrates Theophilio’s roots and familial heritage –– all while contributing to the broader cause of furthering and preserving the stories of black designers.
These are revolutionary times for a plethora of reasons. The new generation of designers will continue to reshape fashion in ways that are both innovative and inspiring to all.
Alexus Graham is a graduate from Savannah College of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree, in the field of Fashion Marketing and Management. You can find her alexusgraham.com.