For the first time ever the top prize was shared between designers behind Brother Vellies, Gypsy Sport and Johnathan Simkhai.
The Fund, which recognized Paul Andrew last year with a win, was established to give emerging talents $300,000 and a year of in-depth mentoring by a CFDA member to help build their businesses and brands in fashion. Each of the winners will receive the prize.
Other winners have included Public School and Alexander Wang. Prabal Gurung and Tabitha Simmons have been runners-up in the past too.
James was nominated in July for her sustainably sourced, ethically produced and uniquely designed footwear collection Brother Vellies. She founded the line in 2013 and turns to artisans in South Africa, Ethiopia, Morocco and Kenya to help produce the collection. James was also named a Footwear News emerging designer to watch in June and is taking home the FN Achievement Award for Emerging Talent in December.
“I am so grateful and humbled to have been selected for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. Having the support of the CFDA and Vogue is a true honor and I am so thankful and delighted for this opportunity,” James told FN after receiving the nomination. “I am excited to share a unique perspective and I look forward to showcasing the amazing work of all the artisans we collaborate with across Africa and to move forward in this already incredible experience.”
James’ unique designs mix textures and patterns to create unique silhouettes and styling.
“It was disheartening that [these areas] were losing their traditional shoe shapes in favor of Western culture’s trend list,” James told FN in June. “I wanted to preserve and reinvent them.”
It’s been a big year for the designer who also presented her first collection at New York Fashion Week and had Kanye West among the names to support her new line.