As diversity and inclusion continue to dominate conversation across the industry, the second African American Footwear Forum will shine a light on some critical issues.
DJ and sneaker collaborator Bobbito Garcia will be the keynote speaker at the event, set for Aug. 10 in Portland, Ore. It is being organized by Pensole Academy and the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA).
The aim of the forum, which will be held at the Portland Art Museum, is to ignite discussion around issues and opportunities, and provide a venue for making connections in the industry. (FN is one of the sponsors of the forum.)
“This is a celebration of people of color who have impacted the footwear industry in significant ways in many different areas,” Pensole founder D’Wayne Edwards said. “But we’re also amplifying a conversation about diversity in the industry while shining a light on career paths and opportunities that need to be available to the consumers of the products the industry creates.”
The daylong event will feature brands, executives, athletes, entrepreneurs and influencers who will explore how diversity drives innovation and creativity.
In addition to Garcia’s address, four career-based “fireside” chats are planned, according to Pensole. In addition, a panel discussion will feature former NBA star and TNT commentator Baron Davis; Karol Collymore, Nike’s portfolio director for social and community impact; Jacques Slade, actor and YouTube influencer; and Chris Burns, footwear analyst and author.
The museum will also host a special installation that highlights designers of color, a group that is often under-recognized.
An after-party is also in the works to emphasize more networking among attendees.
The inaugural 2019 African American Footwear Forum was held at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in February.