On Nov. 30, Brandice Daniel will be honored with the Social Impact Award at the 36th annual FN Achievement Awards. Below is an article from the magazine’s Nov. 28 print issue about Daniel’s efforts to create space for designers of colors and her outstanding success.
For over a decade, Harlem’s Fashion Row CEO and founder Brandice Daniel has bridged the gap between brands and designers of color in fashion, providing a platform through events that teach, inspire and encourage.
Keeping inclusivity at the forefront of her mission, Daniel’s philanthropic efforts have led to monumental moments with several legendary stars and powerhouse labels. The HFR showcase has become a must-attend event at New York Fashion Week. And this year she added LVMH North America to an already-impressive list of corporate partners that also includes Nike, Tapestry, Levi’s and Gap Inc.
Legendary designer Dapper Dan said Daniel’s work is invaluable. “She’s the linchpin that connects people who have aspirations like I had and didn’t have anyone to turn to,” he told FN. “She is responsible for connecting young people with fashion brands. Brandice makes it possible for these young people to find a place in the industry. The voices of young people have been heard no more dreams deferred.”
As Daniel continues her mission, the Memphis native talks about creating a future that sees and makes space for designers of color.
What motivates you and where does your drive come from?
BD: “The designers have always been the core of my motivation. Also knowing that there is a generation that is coming behind us. They are going to need an open door, so if I can help leave the door open through HFR for designers who are young that don’t even know that this is what they are going to become, it’s worth it. I want to leave that legacy in fashion.”
What was the most impactful part of 2022?
BD: “This year was so amazing. Harlem’s Fashion Row had a partnership with LVMH that is something that I’ll never forget. Then we had this effort to elevate HBCU fashion departments, and we had so many brands who partnered with us this year. We partnered with Levi’s, Tiffany & Co., Tapestry. And through our nonprofit Icon 360, we got a $500,000 donation from Gap Inc.”
What have been some of the highlights of the LVMH partnership?
BD: “We had such great synergy. When you’re on the same page, it feels like something that’s meant to be. We worked together on not only HFR’s fashion show, Style Awards and after-party, but one of their brands, Tiffany & Co., came aboard for an event at North Carolina A&T, [a historically Black college]. Louis Vuitton opened their doors for our designer retreat and hosted these incredible designers of color at their corporate office. It’s a dream for us to work with a brand that is in alignment in that way.”
What made this year’s fashion show different from the past?
BD: “We hosted the 15th annual HFR event at Grant’s Tomb. That was a dream of mine in 2009, so to see that come to fruition this year meant a lot. We also introduced the very first Virgil Abloh Award that was presented by Shannon Abloh to Issa Rae, and to be able to honor Janet Jackson was the honor of a lifetime.”
Have there been any big success stories that have come out of an HFR event?
BD: “Some designers who have never heard from retailers before were approached by retailers after an HFR event. It is a great way for designers to immediately connect with retailers. That piece is what I’ve been waiting for. I’ve been waiting for HFR to become a platform that would open more doors for designers. And we’re finally seeing that happen and it feels great.”
How will you take HFR to the next level?
BD: “We are going to provide an easy way for consumers to shop designers of color with our new platform. That’s a big goal of ours. For our nonprofit, my goal is to give away a million dollars to designers of color annually, so we are working toward that as well.”
How do you measure success?
BD: “It’s about the journey. This has honestly been the most incredible journey of my life. It has allowed me to connect with these amazing Black and Latinx designers, not just from a business perspective but from a heart perspective.”
What advice would you give to someone considering entering the fashion industry?
BD: “Whatever it is you want to do in fashion, know why you are doing it. Have a very clear ‘why’ in terms of your pursuit, because it will get hard and you will need to go back to that to find the motivation you need to keep moving forward.
For 36 years, the annual FN Achievement Awards — often called the “Shoe Oscars” — have celebrated the style stars, best brand stories, ardent philanthropists, emerging talents and industry veterans. The 2022 event is supported by presenting sponsor Nordstrom, as well as Caleres, FDRA, Merrell, Vibram and Volumental.