The CFDA has launched yet another platform for budding designers, this time partnering with the Accessories Council on a new initiative that will award young talent with money and mentorship. Named after Elaine Gold, an accessories magnate who passed away in 2015, the Elaine Gold Launch Pad is open to anyone—yes, even those without an established brand—interested in careers in apparel, accessories, jewelry, or materiality, so long as they haven’t been in business for more than three years.
The program is structured as a residency of sorts, in that selected participants will be required to attend a series of workshops, roundtable discussions, and “milestone challenges” in New York City for six months, beginning in September.
On July 27, 11 finalists (selected out 97 applicants) presented their design pitches to an advisory board made up of industry experts from the CFDA, Barneys, the Accessories Council, and more. From there, six designers were chosen: Alexis Isabel (footwear); Bode’s Emily Adams Bode (menswear); Ffora’s Lucy Jones (accessories and innovation); Genusee’s Ali Rose, Jack Burns, and Mark Richardson (optical); Jahnkoy’s Maria Kazakova (apparel); and Khiry’s Jameel Mohammed (jewelry). Each will compete for mentorship and a total of $175,000. The winner will be announced in February.
The program seems different from other initiatives in that it will focus on “holistic” business and design education within the realms of innovation, sustainability, and technology. Still, designers will learn about things like brand strategy, finance, value chain, production, retail and commerce, and strategic planning.
The initiative is set to last for at least four more years. The fashion industry might seem oversaturated, but new initiatives like this are always needed.