SUMMER SCHOOL: With a summer program geared for students interested in pursuing careers in fashion, Fashion for All Foundation is trying to open them up to attainable professional paths.
Started two years ago by Hannah Stoudemire and Ali Richmond, the nonprofit aims to create awareness, promote diversity and equality in the fashion industry. Before Fashion for All was in motion, Stoudemire, a stylist, led a silent protest, during the July 2016 New York Fashion Week men’s shows to demonstrate unlawful killings by police officers. The interest that ensued encouraged them to establish a full-time organization.
Noting how such appointments of Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton and Edward Enninful at British Vogue were a rarity two years ago, the founders spoke of their commitment to diversifying the fashion industry in a joint interview. The organization is based in an under-development workspace and showroom for students. They want to ensure that people of all backgrounds, regardless of sexism, gender issues, ethnicities, disabilities or financial standing can get a fair shake in the fashion industry, he said.
Starting with one student last summer, the current summer program consists of 12 students — a one incoming high school freshman and 11 Kingsborough Community College students. CFDA president and chief executive officer Steven Kolb recently gave the group a personal tour of the group’s downtown offices before pulling in key staff members to discuss their personal journeys and their roles,” Stoudemire said. “It opened up the realm of possibilities to let them know they have a real shot at working in the fashion industry in any way that you want to.”
Before the summer winds down at the end of this month, the group will visit the Ralph Lauren Design Library on Fifth Avenue on Aug. 16. “That’s something they are really excited about because Ralph Lauren doesn’t just offer that to anyone. They have to sign NDAs and all of that,” she said. “Just introducing the culture of work, and professionalism, to them is what we are doing for their development so that they have a chance.”
Earlier this year, Stoudemire started cold e-mailing Gucci with the hopes of taking the students, whose curriculum this year focuses on the Gucci story, to Italy. After much back-and-forth about scheduling, they have been invited to visit the Gucci Garden and Museum, during a seven-day trip to Florence in late October.
The founders are trying to raise $30,000 by the end of the month to finance the airfare and hotel accommodations. The group also plans to visit the site of the first Gucci flagship and its existing one, as well as department stores, boutiques and specialty stores to see what they offer. “We are teaching them the entire process of the industry,” Stoudemire said. “We’ll also go thrifting to hunt. One of their assignments will be to find a vintage Gucci piece. Of course, they will have free time in Florence. A lot of these students have never traveled outside of Brooklyn, let alone the U.S.”