By  on July 17, 2008

NEW YORK — Ecco Domani is adding "green" to its annual Fashion Foundation program.

The winemaker kicked off the eighth season of the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation on Monday. The initiative provides emerging designers in women's wear, men's wear and accessories design with a $25,000 grant toward their fashion week presentation. As in previous years, Ecco Domani will award four women's wear, one men's wear and one accessories award.

For the 2009 edition, the company is adding a sustainable design category to its lineup, which is being made available to a women's or men's wear apparel designer who, through their work, is committed to the environment, social equity and economic viability.

"True talent, in my opinion, is creating the same great design, style and energy that talented designers give, but also being concerned about lessening the footprint they are creating," said Julie Gilhart, vice president of fashion merchandising at Barneys New York and a judge for the Fashion Foundation.

For women's wear and accessories, the foundation judges also include Neiman Marcus' Ken Downing, Macy's Nicole Fischelis, Vogue's Sally Singer, Paper's Kim Hastreiter, The International Fashion Syndicate's Marylou Luther and The Fashion Calendar's Ruth Finley. The men's wear committee of judges includes Barneys New York Inc.'s Jay Bell, Interview's Christopher Bollen and DNR's Alex Badia.

Ecco Domani has granted the awards to designers early in their careers, many of whom have gone on to develop significant businesses. Past winners include Proenza Schouler, Peter Som, Zac Posen, Thakoon, Doo.Ri, Derek Lam, Rodarte, Brian Reyes, Elise Overland, Alexander Wang and Réyes by José Ramón Reyes.

The closing date for applications is Oct. 3, and winners are traditionally feted with an event around fashion week in February.

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