Three finalists have been selected for Tommy Hilfiger’s “New Legacy Challenge,” a design competition formed in September to elevate young Black fashion designers. The brand partnered with Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR), an organization that supports underrepresented Black and Latinx designers, to develop the program and select finalists to redesign a collection of Tommy Hilfiger garments.
Finalists include Megan Smith, founder of sustainable women’s contemporary brand Megan Renee; Johnathan Hayden, founder of luxury women’s brand Johnathan Hayden; and Clarence Ruth, founder of denim brand Cotte D’Armes—all of whom took the stage during HFR’s 4th annual Black History Month Summit earlier this week to share their experience in the competition.
The designers were selected following a virtual showcase featuring applicants’ interpretations of “contemporary prep,” the aesthetic at the core of the Tommy Hilfiger brand.
Next, the three finalists will reimagine iconic prep styles including a hoodie, a spring varsity jacket and a polo under the guidance of their mentors, Tommy Hilfiger senior design directors Urs Graber and Masha Gard, and vice president of design, menswear Ben Snowdon. Final collections will be presented to a jury panel in March, followed by an event that will include the announcement of the winner and a premiere of the New Legacy Challenge docu-series, a behind-the-scenes look at the competition. The winner will receive a grant for $20,000 and the opportunity to co-design a capsule collection alongside Tommy Hilfiger’s design team.
The competition was developed through the brand’s People’s Place Program, a three-pillar initiative launched in June 2020 that focuses on building effective partnerships, providing career support and access and diversifying industry leadership.
“When we launched the People’s Place Program, we recognized career support and industry access as essential areas where we needed to put more resources and opportunities in place for emerging BIPOC creatives,” said Randy Cousin, Tommy Hilfiger senior vice president of product concepts and People’s Place Program. “Our partnership with HFR to champion young Black designers in fashion is fundamental to that goal.”
The competition is just one of Tommy Hilfiger’s initiatives to provide mentorship to underrepresented designers. During the most recent cycle of its Fashion Frontier Challenge, it focused on supporting and amplifying the efforts of Black and diverse entrepreneurs. Parent company PVH Corp has also worked with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) to co-author a research report on inclusion and diversity that exposed some of the industry’s shortcomings and areas in need of improvement, and contributed $5 million to advance BIPOC representation within the fashion industry.
Also helping to elevate Black talent in the fashion industry is Centric Brands, owner of Joe’s Jeans, Hudson, Favorite Daughter and more. Earlier this month, the company announced a partnership with the Black Talent in Design and Fashion Fund (BTDF), an organization that supports Black undergraduates in fashion and design programs.
As part of the partnership, Centric Brands will provide $10,000 in scholarship funds to support BTDF’s mission. The funding will sponsor 20 full scholarships and facilitate in connecting BTDF’s community of talent with internships and early career development opportunities at the company. Scholarship recipients will also be featured across Centric Brands’ channels.
“We are very excited to establish this partnership,” said Elyse Kretz, Centric Brands vice president of talent and culture. “It will provide us the opportunity to bring diverse top talent into our organization to build their careers here at Centric Brands. It will also open new future possibilities that align with our diversity and talent priorities.”