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How Harlem's Fashion Row Changed the Narrative for Black Fashion Designers and More
By Jill Rocco
June 11, 2020
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Harlem Fashion Row ICON 360 featured on WOMANBOSS
"Sometimes you find your purpose and other times your purpose finds you.” - Brandice Daniel CEO/Founder of HFR

‘Black Lives Matter’ risks becoming a slogan if people do not actually translate that into action and initiatives which actively remove discrimination, lift the Black communityand promote diversity and inclusivity. The fashion world, having always had an influential role to play in shaping cultural narrative, is fast in responding with all sorts of messaging and activities.  We see auctions, raffles, donating sales proceeds and BLM content flooding the social media space to respond to Black Lives Matter calls.  Some have had deep roots in supporting the cause, some may come off as just following suit.  Here’s a founder that the fashion industry is watching for their authentic community and enterprising approach.  

Harlems Fashion Row (HFR) is a New York-based social company founded in 2007 that has always been providing a voice for multicultural designers; through a creative platform that enables these designers to sell and present their collections to key leaders within the fashion industry. When Founder and CEO, Brandice Daniel, first started out in the fashion world, she was discouraged when she could only count a number of Black designers with one hand. “African American designers were grossly underrepresented in fashion. It was sad. I was infuriated. I couldn’t sleep at night.” Little did she know this would spark her future in fashion and influence with her most recent venture.  

Brandice of Harlem Fashion Row ICON 360 featured on WOMANBOSS
Brandice Daniel CEO/Founder of HFR

Recently, in response to COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, Brandice decided to use her profound purpose to help those in need. In this case, she sought to assist black designers who have been affected by COVID-19 through her non-profit, ICON360. According to the official website, “in an effort to raise funds for designers of color, ICON360 will host a virtual fundraiser with special fashion industry guests. The nonprofit program would provide forgivable relief to designers of color who are left financially distressed by COVID-19. 100% of ticket sale profits have been allocated to designers of color.   

Initiatives like this draw people’s attention to the pain points of the industry deeply affected by COVID-19, especially those uniquely faced by designers of color. In collaboration with Gap Inc., NikeShea Moisture and Ciroc, ICON360 brought together influential industry professionals, from celebrity stylists, directors of diversity and inclusion in brand organizations for interactive panels and presentations that are educational and current These professionals hailed from companies like ESSENCEVogue, GQ among others.  

Harlem Fashion Row ICON 360 featured on WOMANBOSS
Photo from ICON360’s official website of event speakers

The current economic situation has introduced such uncertainty to so many designers. Brands have had to halt production because of a decline in sales among other reasons.  HFR took action and saw these designers of color through unchartered waters. Brandice explains, during this crisis I thought it was critical to do everything in our power to support designers of color. I’m incredibly inspired by the resilience of designers who are making bold pivots in their business. As a fashion community, we have an incredible opportunity to help scale the businesses of designers who are thriving even in the middle of a pandemic.” 

Brandice and her team at HFR have long been an inspiration to many in the fashion industry searching for ways they can help to strengthen a community and lift each other, especially amongst those in the minority.  BLM may be trending now, but for it to really matter, it has to be an ongoing movement to persist until it is no longer an issue.  As the trajectory of the next few months pan out, what part can each of us play in our respective industry to galvanize a community to respond impactfully to not only a dire economic climate but take charge with a society ready for a positive change.  The question is how we will not let a movement end with a slogan but something integrated into what we do. 

To learn more about HFR and ICON360, check out their pages.  

Even though the event has passed, you are still able to donate to the cause.  

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