This morning, the Council of Fashion Designers of America released its nominations for the annual CFDA Awards. Originally scheduled for its award ceremony in June, the council postponed the event due to COVID-19. Like most events this season, the 2020 CFDA Awards will be held digitally the morning of September 14th kicking off New York Fashion Week.

Prior to the CFDA announcing its nominees, the fashion conglomerate, where Tom Ford sits at the helm, released an act of initiatives the council will be putting into place to create, “systemic change,” in which their statement read. This was a direct response to many callouts the fashion industry faced a few weeks ago when the death of George Floyd invited a global conversation about how industries are treating their Black employees and customers. The fashion industry being one that has historically counted Black talent out, reacted by showing support in various ways. CFDA stating that the company will be creating an in-house program to curate an equally diverse industry.

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Given the deplorable acts of racism and violence that we have seen play out in our country over this past week, our response as an organization was first and foremost on our minds and in our hearts. Black people in this country are reeling from years of injustice stemming from institutional constructs such as slavery, segregation, mass incarceration, police brutality and economic and voter suppression. The Black community is experiencing anger and frustration on top of the effects of the global pandemic that has hit communities of color the hardest. Having a clear voice and speaking out against racial injustice, bigotry and hatred is the first step, but this is not enough. It is not enough to simply say that we stand in solidarity with those who are discriminated against. We must do something. The CFDA outlines initiatives that will immediately be undertaken to create systemic change within our industry: • The CFDA will create an in-house employment program specifically charged with placing Black talent in all sectors of the fashion business to help achieve a racially balanced industry. This program will be tasked with identifying Black creatives and pairing these individuals with companies looking to hire. • The CFDA will also create a mentorship program and an internship program focused on placing Black students and recent graduates within established companies in the fashion sector. • The CFDA will implement and make available to our members a Diversity and Inclusion training program. • We will make immediate contributions and take up fundraising activities in support of charitable organizations aimed at equalizing the playing field for the Black community such as, but not limited to the NAACP and Campaign Zero – amongst others. We urge each and every member of the CFDA to take stock of their corporate structure to ensure that they have a racially balanced workforce and we challenge the retail sector of the fashion industry to ensure that their roster of brands and their product assortment is representative of the Black talent in our industry. Sincerely, Tom Ford, Chairman Steven Kolb, President & CEO #blacklivesmatter

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While there are great efforts to create an industry that is representative of all communities, CFDA has had an active participation in creating a racial divide within the fashion industry. In 2018, Aurora James became the second Black woman to be nominated for emerging talent following Carlie Cushie’s nomination when the designer held a partnership at Cushnie et Ochs in 2015. After being nominated last year, designers Telfar Clemons, Virgil Abloh, and Kerby Jean-Raymond have all returned with nominations. Clemons for American Accessories Designer of the Year, Raymond for American Menswear Designer of the Year and Abloh for Global Men’s Designer of the Year. Newcomers Kenneth Nicholson and Christopher John Rogers landed nominations for American Emerging Designer of the Year, Rogers taking home the 2019 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund at the end of last year.

While these designers have all earned this honorable nomination, since the inception of the CFDA awards in 1980, few Black designers have taken home awards, and even fewer Black women have been recognized by the CFDA – at all. For last year’s CFDA awards, all Black designers were snubbed, but hoping the council holds up to their initiative, more Black designers will walk away with their deserving wins.

See full list of categories and nominations below:

American Womenswear Designer of the Year: Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen for The Row, Brandon Maxwell, Gabriela Hearst, Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford.

American Menswear Designer of the Year: Emily Adams Bode for Bode, Kerby Jean-Raymond for Pyer Moss, Thom Browne, Todd Snyder, Tom Ford.

American Accessories Designer of the Year: Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen for The Row, Gabriela Hearst, Jennifer Fisher for Jennifer Fisher Jewelry, Stuart Vevers for Coach, and Telfar Clemens for Telfar.

American Emerging Designer of the Year: Christopher John Rogers, Kenneth Nicholson, Peter Do, Reese Cooper, Sarah Staudinger and George Augusto for Staud.

Global Women’s Designer of the Year: Daniel Lee for Bottega Veneta, Dries Van Noten, Miuccia Prada for Prada, Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino, Rick Owens.

Global Men’s Designer of the Year: Craig Green, Dries Van Noten, Jonathan Anderson for Loewe, Kim Jones for Dior, Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton.

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