Hudson’s Bay is building support for up-and-coming Black, Indigenous and people-of-color designers in Canada through the launch of the Hudson’s Bay Fashion Fund.

Each year the fund will award one designer a 25,000-Canadian-dollar grant and a three-year mentorship program to help grow the brand and alleviate some of the obstacles fresh designers face in the retail landscape.

“The Fashion Fund is a part of Hudson’s Bay’s extensive work to help accelerate racial equity in Canada, and follows the recent launch of the Hudson’s Bay Foundation’s new social impact platform, Hudson’s Bay Charter for Change,” the company said in its statement.

Through the three-year mentorship program, new designers will be able to leverage the Hudson’s Bay network to build skills and expertise in product development, sourcing, financial management and marketing, while also utilizing Hudson’s Bay’s brick-and-mortar retail and digital channels to showcase and sell their collection. The application process will open in early fall this year.

Tyler Franch, vice president and fashion director at Hudson’s Bay, said that as one of Canada’s largest fashion retailers, the company has a “unique opportunity” to support Black, Indigenous and people-of-color designers “through long-term investment, including industry access and mentorship as well as financial support. The Hudson’s Bay’s Fashion Fund is designed to nurture talent through sustained collaboration, which is so integral to setting new designers up for success.”

The launch of the Fashion Fund was revealed by Aurora James, designer of Brother Vellies and founder of the Fifteen Percent Pledge, at Wednesday evening’s Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards virtual event. As reported, the Toronto-based Hudson’s Bay recently committed to the Fifteen Percent Pledge.

“Hudson’s Bay is taking action across all areas of its business to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion are at the forefront of how we do business. The launch of the Hudson’s Bay Fashion Fund is part of our commitment to drive change across our organization and our industry,” added Felicia Lekan-Salami, divisional vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at Hudson’s Bay. An advisory board for HB’s Fashion Fund will soon be announced.

Hudson's Bay in Toronto.

The Hudson’s Bay flagship in Toronto.  Courtesy of Hudson's Bay