Harlem’s Fashion Row Founder Brandice Daniel Says Major Retailers Are ‘Embarrassed’ About Their Lack of Black Designers

© Provided by Essence Essence Fashion House

Brandice Daniel founded Harlem’s Fashion Row when “less than about 1 to 2 percent of designers that are in major department stores,” were “designers of color.”

According to her, that statistic is still true today after 14 years of fighting for equality in fashion. “That hasn’t changed since I started. That same statistic has remained,” she said in a conversation with fragrance master Chris Collins, celebrity stylist Groovy Lew and ESSENCE Deputy Editor Cori Murray at ESSENCE Fashion House.

Harlem’s Fashion Row offers education, resources, and opportunities to Black designers. Fe Noel, who has worked with the company, is now sitting on the shelves of Saks Fifth Avenue.

“There’s more now but it still hasn’t moved the needle a ton,” added Daniel.

In 2020, Brother Vellies founder Aurora James, who recently dressed AOC for the Met Gala, publicly demanded department stores begin stocking 15% of their shelves with Black designers. Her cry became a non-profit initiative called the 15 Percent Pledge.

Daniel, who has brokered major partnerships with athletic giants and staple ready-to-wear retailers for Black designers, revealed that the disparities in the fashion industry were so severe that some companies were literally ashamed of their lack of diversity.

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SOURCE: ESSENCE, Keyaira Boone

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