DESIGN TO LAST: As part of its ongoing efforts to help advance BIPOC creatives in their careers, Harlem’s Fashion Row has partnered with Banana Republic to launch a sustainable design competition.

The new Designer Competition started accepting applications Tuesday with an open call. In addition to raising awareness about the talents of Black designers, the opportunity will result in an on-the-rise designer creating a sustainable capsule collection. The winner will be revealed via Harlem’s Fashion Row’s platform.

Banana Republic will not take any ownership of the winner’s brand, nor will it take a percentage of sales from the sustainable capsule collection.

The competition is geared toward BIPOC designers who create collections for women or men. The design brief calls for contenders to be inspired by the natural world. Applicants must be based in the U.S. and the application process will close on Oct. 20. Applications are being accepted via the Harlem’s Fashion Row site.

As a Harlem’s Fashion Row partner, Gap Inc. was interested in finding more ways to amplify the voices of designers of color. Harlem’s Fashion Row founder and chief executive officer Brandice Daniel met Banana Republic executives through one of their sister companies, Janie and Jack, during a product inclusion summit. Harlem’s Fashion Row has collaborated with Janie and Jack for a collection that will debut Saturday. As that union was progressing, brainstorming got underway to develop a sustainability-focused endeavor for Banana Republic.

This is the second major program that Harlem’s Fashion Row has revealed within the last week. On Oct. 1, the organization rolled out a new mentorship and grants program for BIPOC-owned businesses with Stitch Fix called Elevate. To be eligible, applicants must be early-stage, majority BIPOC-owned businesses that are based in the U.S.

There has been a more concerted effort by some companies and organizations to offer career opportunities to designers of color. With the help of eight purpose-led Black creators, Lifewtr debuted on Monday “Black Art Rising,” a digital art gallery and a fund. Last month, Resonance selected 11 Black creator-led, direct-to-consumer brands for its accelerator program and online retail platform.

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