On Saturday, September 6th, Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR) hosted its 7th annual Fashion Show & Style awards. Founded in 2007 by Brandice Henderson-Daniel, HFR has become a fixture at New York Fashion Week and a launching pad for the industry’s rising stars of color. The 2014 event showcased emerging and established designers of color (Byron Lars, Harlem Haberdashery, K. Milele, and Josh & Nicol), putting Black fashion in the spotlight during what can often be a diversity-lacking New York Fashion Week.
Beverly Johnson, the first Black model on the cover of Vogue in 1974, received the night’s ICON 360 Award. Upon accepting, Beverly noted, “Though we have made great strides, we still need to see more color on the runway.”
Other notable awards presented included Journalist of the Year, won by Huffington Post’s Julee Wilson and Fashion Publicist of the Year won by Umindi Francis, founder and CEO of Uminidi Francis Consulting Group.
HFR’s Henderson-Daniel told MadameNoire, “Designers of color represent less than one percent of designers available in major department stores. My goal is for HFR to be the solution [to that problem]. Somebody has to do something.”
MadameNoire caught up with some the night’s talent, sponsors, and partners to chat about the impact Harlem’s Fashion Row has on spreading awareness and both buying and earning power within the Black business and fashion communities. Check out what they had to say:
ON BLACKS’ INFLUENCE IN THE FASHION WORLD AND THE NEED FOR UNITY
Harlem Haberdashery is like family and have been styling me for ever. People of color, whether Black or Brown, need to unite and show our unity. We’re the hustlers. We’re beautiful. There’s nothing wrong with sharing our culture and our contributions to the fashion world.
I once watched an interview with Tommy Hilfiger where they asked him how he was successful. He said he would drive through Harlem and see what the kids were wearing and tell [his designers] to make what he saw in to Tommy Hilfiger designs. He made a billion-dollar enterprise off of studying the kids from Harlem. If that doesn’t say enough, what does?
– Fat Joe, Rapper
ON BLACK CREATORS “STICKING TOGETHER”
This is my third year doing a pop-up shop at New York Fashion Week for Harlem’s Fashion Row. I just celebrated my 12th anniversary in fashion. Going to Fashion Institute of Technology and being a designer in the industry, you really don’t have a voice as a Black person. A lot of times you are considered “urban” even if you aren’t an urban designer. They always say Black people don’t stick together. Harlem Fashion Row is a good way to unite in an industry that is not very Black-friendly.
– B. Marie, Designer and Founder, B. Marie Designs
ON BEING A “PORTAL FOR UNTAPPED TALENT”
The people doing the shows at Lincoln Center pay a nice price tag to be there. I think there’s so much untapped talent that come through this umbrella of HFR. This is a great portal that allows Brown people to showcase their talent and do an outstanding job at doing so.
-Keith Campbell, Lead Hair Stylist
ON HARLEM’S FASHION ROW IGNITING THE “NEXT HARLEM RENAISSANCE”
HFR is a huge thing. I’m from Harlem and I know that New York Fashion Week doesn’t showcase a lot of Black businesses and Black people. It’s almost like there’s a 1960s revolution going on. Hopefully, this picks up and expands over the years.
– Justin, Model
I think there’s a resurgence like the Harlem Renaissance happening all over again where designers of color are getting opportunities to showcase what they are doing, which is really good for the Black community.
-Marc Kelly, Model
ON BEING PART OF THE AMPLIFICATION OF BLACK-OWNED BUSINESSES
Design Essentials is an African-American-owned company. This partnership makes sense since our brand is based on uplifting others [like us]. To see that HFR is really amplifying and encouraging African- American designers, it’s really an honor to be part of and celebrate that.
-ShaMarla Jones, Marketing Coordinator, Design Essentials (Event Sponsor)