NEW YORK — The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the New York City Economic Development Corporation on Monday will launch the NYC Fashion Forward initiative.
For the summer of 2016, NYC Fashion Forward will connect 100 New York City high school and undergraduate college students with paid internships with fashion and fashion-related companies across the city — from designers and manufacturers to public relations specialists and small business owners.
So far, 21 companies have committed to hosting interns this summer. Among them are Coach Inc., where the fund will be unveiled Monday morning, along with Tommy Hilfiger, Diane von Furstenberg, Rachel Comey, Kate Spade & Co., Nicholas K, Alice + Olivia, Opening Ceremony, J. Crew, New York Embroidery Studio and Designers & Agents.
As part of NYC Fashion Forward, NYCEDC will commit to financially back 60 summer jobs, created in collaboration with the Mayor’s Fund, the CFDA and the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development, which will pair participating students with employers who will be able to best offer real world training and mentorship. The Mayor’s Fund and CFDA will work with large-scale fashion firms across the city to create the remaining 40 employer-funded summer internships.
Gabrielle Fialkoff, senior adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio and director of the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships, told WWD, “As a former fashion executive [president and chief operating officer at Haskell Jewels], I know how valuable it is and how important it is to find new talent. We want to create a homegrown and diverse talent pool for the fashion industry.”
Fialkoff noted that the CFDA’s role is to reach out to all facets of the industry — small and medium-size designers and manufacturers and public relations firms — to find these jobs, which the NYCEDC will then fund.
The students who will participate in NYC Fashion Forward will be selected from the NYC Ladders for Leaders program, which offers city students the opportunity to participate in paid, professional summer internships within leading large and small businesses, nonprofits and government agencies citywide.
Each Ladders for Leaders participant receives 30 hours of pre-employment training. This year’s program will begin in July and last for six weeks, with students working for about 25 hours a week.
Fialkoff also believes the NYC Fashion Forward program can be taken further.
“I hope these stakeholders will stay connected and offer mentorship and further skills building and workplace training during the school year and then expand it next year, as well,” she added.
NYC Fashion Forward is part of the city’s Made in NY suite of fashion initiatives. Announced by de Blasio in February 2015, the comprehensive array of programs tripled the city’s investment in the local fashion economy to $15 million. The new fashion initiatives set out to cultivate a robust pipeline of fashion industry talent within the city, catalyze growth of emerging creative businesses and support fashion manufacturing facilities across all five boroughs.
To date the initiatives have showcased over 150 local fashion brands to an estimated 650 million people and connected emerging businesses with 75 industry-leading mentors. The programs have generated $500,000 in sales for New York City-based designers and awarded more than $4.5 million in financing and prizes to emerging and small businesses.