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Fred Segal Launches Design Competition for Black Emerging Designers

Los Angeles retail stalwart Fred Segal is joining forces with the Black in Fashion Council, an organization dedicated to securing the advancement of Black people within the industry, to bring the work of emerging designers to the fore.

On Thursday, the retailer launched Season Zero, an annual design competition for early-stage designers and artisans offering a platform for unestablished members of the fashion and creative industries.

To be considered, applicants must be an emerging designer or artisan without a current brick-and-mortar or retail footprint; submit 10-15 digital files of personal designs they own the rights to; and provide a biography and vision for their brand.

The grand prize winner will receive a $10,000 cash reward, a pop-up showcasing the designer’s work at Fred Segal’s flagship location in West Hollywood for the Spring 2021 season and a mentorship opportunity with Fred Segal and the Black in Fashion Council.

The contest will also recognize the second- and third-place runner-ups, who will each receive a $5,000 cash prize. The cash rewards will be provided by the retailer’s charity, Fred GIVES, which is dedicated to cultivating the next generation of artists, makers and designers by supporting arts education in schools and communities.

Submissions will be reviewed by a panel of judges, including Lindsay Peoples Wagner, Teen Vogue editor-in-chief and co-founder of the Black in Fashion Council; Ashley Petrie, Fred Segal vice president of women’s merchandising; and Brian Nyilas, Fred Segal vice president of men’s merchandising.

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“During these challenging times, we understand that it has become more difficult for designers and artisans to find the support and guidance needed to succeed in the industry. Historically, there have been even more barriers for Black creators,” said Jeff Lotman, Fred Segal CEO and owner. “We’re excited to partner with Black in Fashion Council to launch the Season Zero contest and give up-and-coming talent an opportunity to kick start their journey through industry mentorship and a retail platform.”

The mission behind Season Zero echoes several new programs formed to support Black designers. Informa Markets Fashion, the producers of trade shows like Project and Coterie, and NuOrder bowed the Informa Markets Fashion for Change (IMFC) incubator last month, an initiative that supports emerging designers within the Black fashion community and provides select brands with opportunities for representation and mentorship.

In June, Council of Fashion Designers of America announced the launch of an in-house employment program for placing black talent in all sectors of the fashion business, including mentorship and internship programs.

The Season Zero contest is accepting submissions through Nov. 2. All finalists will be featured on Fred Segal’s social media accounts on Nov. 20 and the winners will be announced on Dec. 4 via social media and featured on Fred Segal’s website.