Designing a collection and getting it to market is no easy feat. It’s extremely expensive to be a player in the fashion industry. Indeed, just to put on a proper show during Fashion Week can cost upwards of $300,000 all in.
As uber-successful designer Tracy Reese explained when asked why there are so few black designers in the fashion mix, “It costs a lot of money to be in this industry.”
High cost and the need for the right connections have made entry into the fashion world difficult for many aspiring African-American designers. There is good news. As with Arise magazine’s Made in Africa presentation, having a media sponsor can make it possible to bring collections to the market.
Some designers choose to be under an umbrella with others. This season’s Style Salon, which featured four emerging designers — Ikasho by Anika Lopes, Kachi Designs by Chichi Anaele, and Maria Michele by Maria Tumminello — made it possible to introduce new talent to a body of fashion critics.
Perhaps most impressive, though, is Harlem’s Fashion Row. The brainchild of Brandice Henderson, this fashion presentation that featured four emerging African American designers—Kellia Rogers, Joseph Bethune, Style360 with Sammy B and Onyenauchea Nwabazor—was far more than just a fashion presentation.
Four years ago Henderson decided that it was her mission to identify new black talent and support them in their efforts to develop their collections, present them to the media and buyers and get the clothing in stores.
Not only did she have a huge turnout of black fashion elite at her presentation this year, but perhaps more important, she had that all-critical sponsorship relationship with Target that is making it possible for her to make good on her promise to shepherd these designers beyond the runway.