by Christopher Blomquist

In honor of Black History Month, Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR) hosted its 4th Annual Fashion Summit yesterday. It included some of the most powerful brands and retailers in the fashion industry who shared their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and how they are maintaining and advancing commitments to diverse talent.

Sponsored this year by Prada, the summit opened with Theaster Gates, an artist, social innovator and the founder and Executive Director of Rebuild Foundation, who serves as co-chair on Prada Group’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council. Gates has partnered with the luxury group to create the Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab, a three-year program to recruit and award talented designers of color, create opportunities to amplify their work, invest in their development and expose them to great organizations interested in working with diverse talent.

Panel discussions later followed that discussed things such as the data of race and fashion and the education gap and how to fix it, among others. Participants included industry leaders from Industry LVMH, Capri Holdings, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Savage x Fenty, Nordstrom, American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch.

In addition, Harlem Fashion Row’s CEO Brandice Daniel (pictured above) hosted the Shopbop “Designers Point of View” panel alongside designers Busayo Olupona of Busayo, Abrima Erwiah of Studio 189 and Sophia Demirtas of Fanm Mon, who shared their experience and journey of launching their labels. In the continued effort to support Black designers, Shopbop will give a donation to ICON360, a nonprofit founded by Daniel. ICON360 provides professional and economic resources to marginalized designers of color.

Closing out the summit, Anish Melwani, Chairman and CEO, LVMH Inc. North America, announced that LVMH would be the title sponsor for HFR’s upcoming 15th Annual Fashion Show and Style Awards in September during New York Fashion Week.

“We are thrilled to partner with HFR for their 15th Annual Fashion Show and Style Awards,” he said. “This collaboration matches LVMH’s ambition to create a culture that fosters inclusion and creativity across both the corporate and creative sides of the Group and our Maisons. We are excited by the opportunity to continue working with diverse designers as our brands thrive to marry a rich heritage with an innovative vision to set the cultural trends of tomorrow.”