After receiving hundreds of applicants, Resonance has selected 11 Black creator-led direct-to-consumer brands for its new accelerator program and online retail platform.
The participants for the beRESONANT accelerator program are BruceGlen, Demestik, Izayla, JungleGurl, Lola Faturoti Loves, MAM Couture, Megan Renee, Moon/5un, Ooshie, Renowned and Supervsn. They were selected from a field of nearly 400 candidates.
The inaugural class is kickstarting what will be an ongoing program that is designed to fast-track talent. Resonance is giving the 11 companies stipends and funding cash and non-cash brand expenses (more than $50,000 per brand), a company spokeswoman said. “There is nothing expected in return. This is about making successful Black brands,” she said.
The clothing that each label has created is available for sale via the beRESONANT platform, through each company’s site and other retailers. Resonance unveiled the program eight weeks ago, but the New York-based company held off on revealing the selected brands until their designs were available.
In recent months, a number of different initiatives have been launched in the fashion industry to help advance Black designers and creatives. For example, the Black in Fashion Council, which was created in June, established a Discovery Showroom during New York Fashion Week to draw attention to emerging Black designers. The Council of Fashion Designers of America has a number of efforts under way to provide Black creatives with mentoring, job opportunities and other essentials for long-term success.
Wary that the current attention being paid to Black creatives may be tokenism, some industry executives and high-profile models like Naomi Campbell have emphasized the importance of hiring Black executives on a full-time basis to be involved with corporate decision making that could lead to more lasting change. Designers like Paskho’s Patrick Robinson and Studio 189’s Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah have demonstrated how employing underserved communities can result in sustainable growth for individuals.
Resonance’s accelerator is set up to provide capital, services and technology to talented creators from underrepresented groups, who had not previously had the tools or platform to relay what they have to say. Born out of the Black Lives Matter movement, the accelerator program is one way that Resonance is trying to elicit change to enable economic opportunity and ownership for Black and other underrepresented creatives. There are also plans to introduce more sustainable products in the months ahead, to roll out real-time collaborations with brands and influencers, to open pop-up stores and unveil retail partnerships.
A spokeswoman for Resonance said the company is not making any profits from this endeavor, with all proceeds — less cost of goods — going directly to the designers. In addition, they are running on Resonance’s platform free of charge.
The 11 brands are launching 150 styles.
Resonance chairman and chief executive officer Lawrence Lenihan is using the new incubator partially to illustrate how the industry needs to change in terms of racial equality but also in relation to adopting more sustainable business practices. In addition to striving toward a zero-waste format, the business model is meant to enhance creativity, limit costs and help protect the environment. Through what the Resonance Companies calls its proprietary “raw-materials-to-customer-doorstep solution, create.ONE, brands are able to design, sell and make — in that order — one piece of clothing,” according to press materials for the launch. Therefore, garments are pre-sold and then made, which is meant to improve costs and eliminate any unnecessary production.
The final participants were selected by the Resonance Council, which represents decades of experience in the fashion industry. Members include the designer and stylist Beth Gibbs, who co-owns the streetwear retailer Union with Chris Gibbs. Their fellow council members include retail specialist Monique Joseph, designer Jerome LaMaar, brand building authority Allyson Moore, corporate lawyer Travis Rundlet, designer Clark Sabbat, consultant Warren Satchell, producer and art curator Zaharia Sherzad and design duo Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra, Sean John’s Jeff Tweedy, stylist Pamela Watson, Native Son’s Emil Wilbekin and designer Norisol Ferrari.