Kenneth Cole’s New Footwear Innovation Award Winner Focused on Collaboration, Sustainable Textiles

In its second year, Kenneth Cole, along with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, has named the winner of the Kenneth Cole Footwear Innovation Award. The honor awards a fashion graduate student with a one-year design fellowship opportunity at Kenneth Cole Productions combining design with social consciousness.

This year, Erika Tompkins took home the prize.

“Through Erika’s portfolio submission, it was clear that she understands the importance to look good, for good, and values using a business platform to promote not just want you stand in, but what you stand for,” Cole said. “Her modern aesthetic and passion to marry business with social consciousness make Erika the perfect candidate for this fellowship program.”

Tompkins, who graduated from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, focused on collaboration in her winning portfolio. Teaming up with JD Green at Creativity Explored, and Ananas Anam’s Piñatex, a new sustainable leather made from pineapple waste fibers, she created a collection that helps raise awareness on fashion and function.

Erika Tompkins Kenneth Cole Footwear Innovation Award
Erika Tompkins, winner of the 2017 Kenneth Cole Footwear Innovation Award.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

“What is so great about this program is that it is not just about winning an award; I will actually have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience at a global fashion brand,” she told Footwear News. “This project allowed me to combine two of my passions — fashion and giving back to the community. I am looking forward to learning more about how Kenneth Cole has built his business on marrying those two things. I am also so grateful to be part of a CFDA program. It is an organization that I have admired through my college career and beyond.”

Erika Tompkins Kenneth Cole Footwear Innovation Award
A highlight from Erika Tompkin’s winning portfolio.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

The candidates in the running for the fellowship were presented to a committee who helped determine the finalists and winner.

This year’s selection committee included Cole; Sara Kozlowski, the CFDA’s director of education and professional development; Aki Choklat, chair and associate professor at the College for Creative Studies; Kristy Caylor, CEO of Cerci; Sarah Blair, SVP of DMM Women’s Accessories at Barneys New York; and Sam Broekema, accessories director at InStyle Magazine.

Tompkins will be officially announced as the 2017 winner at the CFDA Awards on June 5 in New York.

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