Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design and VF Corp. Launch a Diversity-Focused Masterclass

Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design has joined forces with VF Corp. for a diversity-focused masterclass.

The D’Wayne Edwards-founded school and five VF Corp. brands — Dickies, The North Face, Timberland, SmartWool and Vans — have announced DiverCity x Design, an industry-certified class that is now in its second year. According to Pensole, students from the masterclass who became VF Corp. apprentices have become footwear designers at Timberland and Vans.

Pensole said the class “focuses on diversity through a holistic lens that includes company culture and design skills in addition to ethnic background.” In the class, Pensole said students will work in teams of apparel designers and color and material designers, and each team will work on a project for one of the five aforementioned brands.

The class, according to Pensole, was developed to “resemble an apprenticeship more than a traditional class” and said aspiring designers “will receive weekly instruction, but they will work more like a design studio, enabling them to experience what it is like working at a brand while developing time management, professionalism and leadership skills.”

Pensole said the masterclass will culminate in a paid apprenticeship with VF Corp.

“The idea behind this new program is to give aspiring designers of the future a better-informed perspective in the way they think, learn and create in our industry,” Edwards said in a statement. “This industry certified masterclass will present VF Corporation as one expansive offering of diverse cultural experiences, creative outlets and opportunities for the future of our industry.”

Pensole said 16 students will be accepted for the five-week online program, which will run from Jan. 9, 2023 to Feb. 10, 2023. Registration for the masterclass is open now and will remain open through Dec. 4. People can register via Pensolelewiscollege.com/programs.

In related Pensole news, Edwards has been selected as the 2022 FN Achievement Awards Person of the Year. For more than a decade, Edwards has been dedicated to racial equality in the footwear industry as the founder of Pensole Design Academy in Portland, Ore., which entered a historic new phase last year with the opening of the Pensole Lewis College in Detroit (Michigan’s first and only HBCU). Additionally, Edwards has been a vital champion for the National Black Footwear Forum that returned in person this year.

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