New Mentorship Program RAISEfashion Aims to Bolster Black Talent

Several months ago when I interviewed Harlem’s Fashion Row founder Brandice Daniel, the advocate for designers of color spoke frankly: “I learned pretty early on that press alone doesn’t pay the bills,” she told me. To Daniel, mentorship was just as crucial as access and funding. Now, thanks to a partnership with RAISEfashion, “We have the solution,” Daniel said in a press release announcing the formation of this groundbreaking collective, which aims to combat the institutional barriers to entry and success that have disproportionately plagued Black design talent.

RAISEfashion’s founding Board of Directors is comprised of eight leaders whose aim is to advise and mentor Black designers in a pro-bono capacity while lifting the lid on what can be a very insular industry especially in areas such as sales, branding, content, and sustainability. Among them are CEO and creative director Carly Cushnie, designer Jonathan Simkhai, retail executives Roopal Patel and Elizabeth von der Goltz, and tech entrepreneur and fashion executive Felita Harris. Unlike other programs which are primarily aimed at emerging talent, RAISEfashion will advise brands and designers in need at any stage in their careers. To date, some 100 industry veterans have signed on to share their expertise.

“As a woman of color, I have personally experienced the incredible impact that established executives can have when they invest in young talent,” said Harris in the announcement. “That investment is professionally life changing. RAISE is offering the Black community access to information and providing networking opportunities that have the potential to change or propel the trajectory of their careers.”

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