This is a ninth year for Harlem's Fashion Row. Hi, I'm Brandice Daniel. I'm the CEO and Founder of Harlem's Fashion Row. When I started HFR, I can remember thinking, when we're five years old, when we're ten years old. And now Could be so close to ten, it's a dream. It's actually a dream, a dream come true. Hall of fashion row is so necessary because our voices need to be heard. Our perspective needs to be heard. We matter. Our lives matter. Our opinions matter. Our Views matter. Right now, multicultural designers often feel kinda shut out of fashion. And sometimes they feel like certain parts of the industry are inaccessible. And so what we do at Harlem's Fashion Row, is to provide a platform where we invite all of these These people that they would love to get meetings with, that they need to be connected to. Building basically a connection between the designers, multi-coverage designers, and the fashion community. Hi everyone! This is Terese Brown, designer of Terese Sydonna, contemporary women's ready to wear and accessories designed for the superhero in all of us. I think my collection is about Saving the day, for so many different people. Whether it's from the go to jacket, to the go to pant. I've done my own prints, my own colors. Everything is custom. The collection is so easy going, so easy flowing. It's like you can dress it up, dress it down. Get on a plane and land in style. Hi, I'm Kahindo Mateene and I'm the designer behind Kahindo, the collection. The collection is for that confident woman, you know, who isn't afraid to walk color, trend, texture, and really embrace Her confidence so it's for that woman.>> Hi, My name is Radhika Perera-Hernandez and my line is Lois London. So my line Lois London is a resort wear driven line. Always very flowy, very carefree, very feminine. I don't really follow trends so I tend to do timeless. To me anyway timeless garments. But I fail considerable. Men's wardrobe for years, instead of it being fast fashion items. So, my name is Jakai Franks. My brand name is called JRU, and it stands for, Just Respect Us. Sure. So, Just Respect Us, Julie, because we wanted to be all about individuality, no matter what you stand for, you should respect it. There should be no bullying in the world. So, everyone should be able to get along and You respect them for who they are. So no one should be in a spitelout, at they're that way or this way. Respect everyone, and the world will be a better place. I am so excited about our honorees tonight. So we have four [UNKNOWN] honorees. One of them is a celebrity stylist, Eric Archibald. We have the editor of Teen Vogue, Elaine Welteroth. We have the president of Next Model Management, Kyle Hagler, and our Icon 360 Award recipient is going out to one of these dopest dudes I hope to know [INAUDIBLE] I really want to get to the consumers, to these women. And I would love to be featured in Essence and Cosmo and Vogue. Just get a lot of brand recognition, press coverage and hopefully get picked up by a Saks or Barneys. I just want Brian to win. I just want people to have me on their radar. I hope the response today is awesome. And just grow the network of people that know about Lawless London. For me, obviously racism exists. I don't let that define me or who I am. I'm a designer who happens to be black. [MUSIC] Having a fashion show is just a small. Be what we hope to accomplish. Our goal is to really introduce designers to buyers, introduce them to consumers. Just trying to be a bridge between the designers and everything that they need. Very nervous. And just to be showing it with hall on fashion role to me, it means something to be able to Come out of the box on this type of a platform because I am a minority designer and I think just to be able to be on that type of team, it's so much support and it feels amazing. It really means a lot to be part of the Harlem Fashion Row family. And I mean it has grown leaps and bounds and brand is, has just like Mentor to me. So after the show is over, we actually have a pop-up shop on Saturday, where the designers that are actually shown tonight, can actually be bought. So people can purchase their collections on Saturday. After this, we're working on LA, and bringing designers to LA, during Grammy week. And working On our tenth year celebration for next year. So the designers and I, will of course, stay in touch. And we are always here as support for the designers that we show.
Model Ebonee Davis and Harlem’s Fashion Row founder Brandice Daniel are leading the charge for a more diverse fashion industry. And yesterday (July 1), both women stopped by the 2017 ESSENCE Festival Beauty & Style stage to discuss exactly how they’ve overcome specific challenges in their respective careers.
Davis, who was recently featured in the Pantene Gold Series campaign, spoke out about the trouble she had getting signed as a Black model and the “Eurocentric beauty standards” that are glorified by the fashion industry.
“I was straightening my hair because they said that I couldn’t wear natural hair,” said Davis. “I was wearing weaves because they said that was the standard of beauty that I had to subscribe to -the Eurocentric standard. Ultimately, telling me that the way I was born isn’t beautiful and it isn’t good enough.”
The struggle for representation isn’t just with models, but designers as well. Brandice Daniel, wants to give Black designers a space to be seen.
“We’re spending 22 billion a year on apparel…but less than 1% of [black designers] are represented in department stores,” said Daniel, who began Harlem’s Fashion Row in 2007. “That lit a fire under me.”
That flame grew into a organization that puts on packed out events and celebrates designers and celebrities that contribute to Black fashion.
“I want designers that put in the work.,” she continued. “Those who really have a different point of view and an amazing collection or aesthetic – I want them to be seen.”
Utilizing their platforms to make change, both ladies will continue to not only shine light on the fashion industry’s diversity issues, but create opportunities for others as well.
“Who are our role models… if all of the successful Black women in my industry are being removed from the culture,” said Davis. “I have had the opportunity to amplify my message, amplify my voice. I want people to know is that no mater who are, no matter where you come from, not matter what you look like you’re beautiful.”