The Row Must Go On: Nike & Harlem's Fashion Row Make Their Designer Retreat Virtual With Support From the CFDA

Dapper Dan, center, speaks to ICON 360 attendees.
Dapper Dan, center, speaks to ICON 360 attendees.
Photo: Harlem’s Fashion Row

The outbreak and ongoing threat of COVID-19 have taken much from us these past few months—and the future still holds much uncertainty. But as we move forward in our still-evolving new normal, some are rising to meet the moment better than others. Take, for instance, our friends at Harlem’s Fashion Row: in May, founder and CEO Brandice Daniel built upon HFR’s founding mission to support, elevate and provide a platform for emerging Black fashion designers and talents by launching the nonprofit initiative ICON 360, hosting a virtual fundraiser and providing grants to industry creatives struggling amid this ongoing crisis. Once again proving adept at attracting and aligning major brand partners with its efforts, Icon 360's launch was co-sponsored by Gap, Ciroc, Nike, and Shea Moisture.

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“As a fashion community, we have an incredible opportunity to help scale the businesses of designers who are thriving even in the middle of a pandemic,” Daniel said in May of the newly-formed nonprofit.

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And HFR’s efforts paid handsomely, garnering “copious donations received from the largest leaders in the fashion industry,” according to a press release sent to The Glow Up. The funding, which includes a $1 million donation from The VOGUE/CFDA Common Thread Fund is enabling HFR to make its 2nd annual Designer Retreat with partner Nike a virtual one, taking place over three days from July 15 to July 17.

Per a statement from Harlem’s Fashion Row:

ICON 360, the subsidiary of HFR, created to support brands through global crises, is gearing up to host 75 black and indigenous designers of color for the company’s second Virtual Designer Retreat in July 2020. With generous support from NIKE, designers will learn key strategies to grow their businesses and compete for a grant through ICON 360.

The exponential growth ICON 360 has experienced through the challenges of a global pandemic has also brought on much awareness. The VOGUE/CFDA Common Thread Fund recently donated $1 million to the ICON 360 grant. This will allow designers in all stages of business to seek opportunities with an organization committed to furthering the advancement of diversity in fashion. During the virtual retreat, Brandice Daniel, Founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row will announce how the $1 million donation will be distributed.

“We have always taken pride in creating an avenue for Black designers to learn the industry by talking directly to leading fashion insiders,” said Daniel in a statement. “This year is especially important because our designers will present their collections as well for a chance to win a grant to help their business even further.”

Topics on the itinerary during the three-day virtual retreat include discussions in “Effective Marketing Post-Pandemic” and “Setting Brand Direction” and also feature a virtual “Dinner with Nike,” with the title sponsor supplying retreat guests with an appropriately socially distanced dinner via food-delivery apps. Scheduled guest speakers include designers Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and Tracy Reese; fashion reporter Teri Agins; celebrity stylist Wouri Vice; Vogue.com Fashion Editor Chioma Nnadi; plus many more in attendance.

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Additionally, the second annual event will feature a competition in which two attending designers will each receive a $10,000 grant. In addition to Nike, other supporting sponsors include Gap Inc., Diageo, Macy’s, and designer children’s brand Janie and Jack, which donated an additional $25,000 to ICON 360. Modeling and creative agency IMG and the CFDA (the Council of Fashion Designers of America) are also continuing their support of HFR’s mission.

“We are very excited about the potential of this event and how uniting it is going to be for everyone in our fashion community,” says Daniel of the retreat’s new format. “We are encouraging those interested to tune in later this month.”

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As the release reminds us, “Harlem’s Fashion Row has defined artistic, cultural, and social trends for the past 12 years, and helped launch the careers of countless influential designers and countless others who have made their debut with HFR.” Interested? Designers can learn more about ICON 360 and its guidelines on the HFR website.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, an avid eyeshadow enthusiast and always her own muse. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.

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