Calling all designers with an interest in sustainability: The application process has begun for the second round of the CFDA x Lexus Fashion Initiative 2.0 program.
The initiative is a business development program that inspires commitment to sustainable innovation and positive change. The 12-month virtual residency structure challenges brands to examine environmental, social and financial impacts with the intention to problem solve through new materials, processes and systems. A series of education-based workshop sessions will cover responsible sourcing methods, ethical manufacturing, supply chain transparency, material innovation, scalability and consumer literacies. Up to 10 designers will be selected to participate.
The program invites designers and brands of small to mid-size scale, which specialize in women’s and/or men’s apparel and accessories — excluding jewelry — to apply. Some $225,000 is to be awarded to participants during the program. Participants will learn how to navigate fashion’s supply chain, and the goal is to enact measurable change and create maximum impact furthering sustainability.
Rachel Espersen, creative programming and partnerships at Lexus, said, “Lexus’ longstanding commitment to ‘sustainability without sacrifice’ and continued support of the fashion industry makes the CFDA + Lexus Fashion Initiative especially meaningful.”
In April, it was revealed that Erin Isakov of performance line Erin Snow won the top prize of $150,000 in the first installment of the program. Maria Cornejo of Zero + Maria Cornejo and Wing Yin Yau of Wwake were the two runners-up, each collecting $50,000 to put toward the strategies they worked on over the course of the program, known as CFDA x Lexus Fashion Initiative 1.0.
Several changes had been made this year to further challenge participants and provide awards and incentives along the way. Among the key ones is a redesigned application criteria and selection process, including robust profiling and a phase-two application process consisting of a live presentation to the final selection committee. In addition, the program has been shortened from 17 months to 12 months. Up to 10 finalists are selected to participate in the program through April 2018, and following that, finalists will be cut so that up to six participants are eligible to progress to the end of the program. One-on-one mentors will support participants and will be selected based on the participant’s targeted needs.
Last year, the program consisted of only a $150,000 grant to one participant and $50,000 grants to two recipients at the culmination of the program. This year, there will be an incremental series of awards that will provide finalists with the opportunity to participate in four pitch-based presentations at key milestones throughout the program to win a total of up to $225,000.
Designers will be challenged to come up with solutions in areas such as consumer awareness, material innovation, design efficiency, new technology and bespoke processes.
At the first milestone in November, one participant will win up to $25,000; at the second milestone in February there is an opportunity for up to six finalists to win a total of up to $25,000. (At that point, six participants will advance to the final presentations round and those not selected will be released from the program.) At the third milestone in April, there is an opportunity for one brand or designer to win up to $50,000. And for the fourth milestone in July 2018, at the culmination of the program, there is a chance for one participant with the most imaginative and viable strategic blueprints to win the Lexus Grand Prize of $125,000.
The application process began Wednesday and is open through July 7. Following phase one and phase two (in-person presentation) of the selection process this summer, participants will be confirmed Aug. 15 to 29, and the program begins Sept. 18 to 22.
The criteria to apply is that a designer must be in business two or more years and have demonstrated sales and editorial success. The designers must have a commitment to advancing the level and percentage of sustainability within their products and services and other aspects of their business model. The designer also must be available to participate from September through August 2018.