Kenneth Cole, along with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), has named the third annual winner of the Kenneth Cole Footwear Innovation Award. Susan Zienty, a San Francisco Academy of Art University graduate student, will take home the prize at the CFDA Fashion Awards on Monday in New York for her portfolio based on a collection titled Adolescent Anonymous, which is intended to highlight the beauty that can be found within the foster care system.
“Susan has a modern design aesthetic, which is a natural complement to our brand,” Cole said. “She is impressively passionate about the marriage of business with social responsibility, which has been a long-standing component of our mission at Kenneth Cole. Susan understands the importance of using a business platform to promote not just a modern version of what one stands in, but also what it stands for.”
Zienty drew inspiration from her experience in the foster care system to design a collection made with sturdy platforms and block heels representing a foster child’s need for a strong support system. Moreover, she encased salvaged materials and precious stones within a other substances in memory of her loving relationship with her longest-lasting foster sister.
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“Receiving this year’s Kenneth Cole Footwear Innovation Award, in partnership with the CFDA, is an accomplishment that has been beyond my imagination. The portfolio that I submitted is based on a collection that commemorates, celebrates and unveils the profound beauty that can emerge from hardship in the foster care system,” Zienty said.
“I am humbled that a project like this has been recognized by Kenneth Cole, a global fashion brand that is passionate about marrying style and social consciousness, and the CFDA, an organization I have always held in high regard. I am so looking forward to joining the Kenneth Cole team and beginning my fellowship in New York.”
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, senior vice president of DMM Women’s Accessories at Barneys New York; and Sam Broekema, accessories director at InStyle magazine.