The Fashion Scholarship Fund and Virgil Abloh on Tuesday hosted a virtual campus visit with students of HBCU and FSF member schools Clark Atlanta University, Delaware State University, Florida A&M University, Hampton University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Spelman College and Xavier University of Louisiana to learn more about FSF and Abloh’s “Post Modern” Scholarship Fund.
What can one expect from a virtual campus visit led by Abloh? For one, he will share real stories of his experiences in the industry, and unconventional approaches to traditions, much like the virtual campus visit in itself, and a rapid-fire questionnaire at the end of the visit to answer students’ questions.
“The ‘Post Modern’ Scholarship Fund is valuable in whether you win or you don’t,” Abloh said on the Zoom call with a number of students. “In design they try to rank people by sales. I don’t like the idea of winning in design, because it means someone is losing.”
He sees the scholarship as a way to give resources that he didn’t have when he was a student and also open the doors to young Black talent and keep the doors open.
“I want to stress that of course the goal is to apply and hopefully we give you a $5,000 scholarship,” he said, and also an internship and/or job opportunity with one of Abloh’s many partners, including Off-White, Louis Vuitton, Nike and Evian.
But the visit also covered how the FSF supports students through mentorship, internships, career placements, alumni benefits and events, which past FSF Case Study scholarship recipients Kenny McCullough, 2008 scholarship recipient from University of North Carolina; Rolanda Evelyn, 2016 recipient and graduate of the Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania, and Jasmine Bacchus, 2019-20 scholarship winner at Brown University walked through with the students.
McCullough benefited from the mentorship program, learning under FSF mentor Colleen Kelly, and participated in the Accelerator Grant Pitch Event to compete for a $50,000 award to launch a business, while Evelyn said she was hired at Rent the Runway after meeting chief executive officer Jennifer Hyman at a FSF event.
“We all start with an empty Rolodex and the amount of hours you put in equate to new people you meet and adjacencies,” Abloh said. “Everyone that I’ve worked with has had an interview or recommendation that was part of their trajectory to reach their dream job. With the scholarships, we’re trying to expedite that. If you participate in the community, your Rolodex will only get bigger and lead to jobs you don’t even know about.”
Abloh said the students should plan to have multiple mentors in their careers; promoted multitasking, and also how his off-duty time is as valuable as his studies. “No professor told me what I was doing off of my school hours is the valuable part to launch your fashion perspective,” he said as part of his response to a Florida A&M student who asked how he integrated his architecture background with his fashion career.
He encouraged the students to “harness culture” because he believes culture “dictates fashion and trends.” He also used VF Corp.’s acquisition of Supreme for $2 billion as an example.
Abloh on many occasions has said that students have the answers to today’s issues and ordeals that need solving, and told the students on the call that they possess the language of “now” that jobs and companies are looking for. Evelyn reasserted this idea with advice for the annual FSF Case Study Scholarship program saying, “you’re all students and know the language of now so bring that to your case studies.”