Awet New York will unveil its first ever Black-owned brand showroom at its 2,000-square-foot studio space at 269 Canal Street in SoHo during New York Fashion Week.
During a one-week period from Feb. 9 to 16, a curated group of seven Black-owned brands from across New York will showcase their collections: Awet New York, a luxury lifestyle brand; McKenzie Liautaud, a crystals collection; Marco Hall, a ready-to-wear couture clothing collection; Wear Brims, a luxury hat company; Paradis Winslet, a luxury, limited-edition unisex brand; Isaiah Hemingway, a businesswear/leisure brand, and Truth, a contemporary brand.
Coinciding with Black History Month, the goal is to lighten the burden for Black designers and offer them an opportunity to meet with buyers.
“A number of barriers prevent Black-owned brands from being discovered, including the lack of access to showrooms, or the inability to absorb the cost of attending all of the trade shows in order to show off their collections, all of which have been factors that we understand fully as a brand,” said Awet Woldegebriel, founder and creative director of Awet New York.
He said for one week, all the brands will have access to Woldegebriel’s showoom as their own personal showroom at no cost. He moved into the showroom last March.
“Our goal is to give designers the chance to focus on what matters most, creativity, art and scaling their businesses. This is the first year we are not scrambling for a space to show our fall 2023 collection, and what better way to celebrate than to share our space? We hope that the showroom will inspire many meaningful partnerships between retailers and brands,” he said.
Alex St. Urbain, chief marketing officer of Awet New York, said, “It is essential for us to continue creating spaces to highlight and give visibility to Black-owned brands like ourselves, especially in the luxury space. Collaborating with one another is key. Regardless of being a small and new brand, this event is coming after consistent efforts to uplift the Black community, which is core to our brand DNA.”
Awet New York, which was founded in 2020 during the pandemic, is a New York City-based luxury lifestyle brand founded by Woldegebriel, a refugee from Eritrea. His first collection, titled “A Promise to New York,” employed New York garment workers who struggled to keep their jobs during the pandemic. Last September during fashion week, in lieu of celebrating their fall collection, Awet hosted a dinner celebrating 17 other Black designers and tastemakers and their contribution to fashion and design. Last June, Woldegebriel launched a Forward lines capsule collection printed with a colorful design that artist Caroline Harris made using 588 intersecting lines. It was in homage to the life of George Floyd and the 588 people who attended Woldegebriel’s biweekly Martha’s Vineyard salon discussions on systemic racism. The company donated 30 percent collection sales to the NAACP and National Urban League.
In December 2021, Awet partnered with Kenneth Cole to host a successful holiday pop-up featuring 10 small Black-owned businesses in the Bowery.