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Emerging Black Designers Get Boost from New Informa Markets Fashion Initiative

Sue Pelletier, Senior Editor

NEW YORK — Informa Markets Fashion is providing 10 emerging talents in the Black fashion community new tools, mentoring, and a showcase with a new incubator program launching the first week in September. The Informa Markets Fashion for Change (IMFC) Incubator program will provide the selected 10 Black fashion designers a complimentary digital showroom page in the company’s fall and spring 2021 digital events, along with access to digital wholesale market tools via the NuORDER platform, marketing promotion, and editorial features. They also will receive individualized mentorship and leadership guidance tailored specifically to their business’s needs from the IMFC’s Advisory Board, NuORDER executives, and other high-level fashion industry executives.

“With the Black Lives Matter movement in early June and resulting social discourse, the Informa Markets Fashion executive team took pause to listen and to learn — like many other businesses did. We realized we could and should do more to better support Black designers and Black-owned brands,” said Informa Markets Fashion President Nancy Walsh. “One of the fundamentals that our company is built on is connection and community, so uplifting promising talent from our Black fashion community and giving them access to the tools and opportunities we think are necessary for business success was an organic step.”

The designers were selected based on their brand merit, business potential, and their membership in an underrepresented community that deserves better recognition in the industry, according to Walsh. In fall 2021, a new round of 10 designers will be selected for the next installment of the initiative.

The chosen designers will get global brand exposure to the 14,000-plus registered buyers for the Informa Market Fashion digital event, including large retailers such as ASOS, Anthropologie, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, FitFabFun, Revolve, Shopbop, and Zappos, as well as boutique retailers. Each of these brands as will be included in marketing communications about the event to the company’s buyer database as well as brand and product features created specifically for the digital trade event experience.

Informa Markets Fashion President Nancy Walsh

“It’s truly a comprehensive program, whose goal is amplify brand exposure — getting their brand name and collections directly in front of buyers that are looking for new, unique product and emerging brands,” said Walsh.

But the intent is to go beyond just the transactional piece of traditional B2B wholesale commerce, she added. “While brands will be showcasing new products through dynamic digital showrooms — utilizing 360-degree images and video, all of which are shoppable, making video appointments with retailers, and conducting direct 1:1 business, much like a live event — we are taking this even a step further with highly curated content that is exclusively created for our event.” This means buyers can explore various pieces of editorial content, such as themed product curations from fashion editors, “behind-the-brand” designer and industry leader Q&As, and Fashion Changemakers featuring sustainable brands or women-owned brands.

Related: Navigating Diversity: Gestures Are Not Enough

The company also is translating a full lineup of educational programming to its digital platform, Walsh said. “Leveraging our industry partnerships, buyers can explore educational guides, and on-demand digital sessions geared towards the veteran buyer as well as the first-time trade event attendee.”

While they are comprehensive, the digital marketplaces are not meant to replace live events, Walsh emphasized. “When we can return to live events, we plan to host both as complements to one another to even further enhance the collective trade event experience.”

The biggest challenge to implementing this initiative? “Narrowing down our selection of brands who we felt would benefit tremendously from this opportunity — there is so much talent!” Walsh said. “This is why we are already looking forward to fall 2021 when we can revisit a new selection and continue to build this initiative.”

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