MORE TO THE STORY: Garnering attention during New York Fashion Week is never an easy feat, but a few lesser-known designers are getting a major boost from Live Rocket.
The New York City-based live commerce platform is supporting Bethann Hardison’s The Designers Hub by spotlighting a few of the shows during this month’s NYFW. Timed to coincide with the celebration of Black History Month, the alliance will help to elevate three companies.
Hardison, a former model and fashion activist, spearheaded the Designers Hub with support from the Council of Fashion Designers of America to help Black designers and Black-owned fashion brands and companies advance their opportunities. Participants receive top-level guidance from industry professionals and opportunities to strengthen their businesses.
Started last November by Mark Bozek, a former chief executive officer of HSN, Live Rocket operates studios on Fulton Street in Manhattan’s Seaport district as well as a site and app. The inaugural lineup on Feb. 16 will feature shows from Aisha McShaw, K. Milele and Oak & Acorn.
The event will include more than just viewing new designs — each of the designers will present a 20-minute live show highlighting their collections and offering an assortment of their creations to purchase via a livestream on Live Rocket’s site as well as at the Live Rocket Studio downtown.
Bozek said that helping to discover new and diverse talent is of utmost importance to Live Rocket and is right in line with its DNA. All of the sales from next month’s event will benefit the designers with Live Rocket taking none of the profits.
Since last fall’s launch, the platform has been working with the CFDA to provide opportunities to designers and brands who don’t yet have the platform, experience or funding to create live sales opportunities to scale up their businesses, Bozek said.
Nurturing The Designers Hub’s creative will help Live Rocket build out its increasing product range in fashion, accessories, beauty, food, fitness and well-being. In the future, seasoned design and technology specialists will share their expertise through special appearances and mentoring. The aim is to make the collaboration with The Designers Hub a long-term relationship, Bozek said. He and Hardison go way back — they met in the ’80s when Bozek was at Willi Smith’s WilliWear.
The see now, buy now format is an advantage for the emerging designers. Hardsion, who is also a Live Rocket board member, said, “The designers in the hub have so much talent and these shows enable them to share their wholly unique stories and generate sales concurrently.”
Talks are underway with potential sponsors to support The Designers Hub and other series in different capacities, according to Bozek. “It’s not enough to just launch a digital website, book an influencer and [open an] occasional pop-up. The costs of customer acquisition is skyrocketing and [it is] more challenging than ever to attract enough eyeballs and subsequent customers to grow consistently,” Bozek said. “Messaging via social media and storytelling are as key to brands these days as the designs themselves.”
The CFDA’s CEO Steven Kolb praised Hardison for the support and guidance she brings to The Designers Hub. “We believe in Aisha McShaw, K. Milele and Oak & Acorn, and are thankful to Live Rocket for giving them an opportunity to expand their reach,” he said.
Moving forward, The Designers Hub shows on Live Rocket will be a recurring, scheduled livestreaming event in order to introduce more people to its increasing base of participants.