The Council of Fashion Designers and Accessories Council have announced the finalists of the inaugural Elaine Gold Launch Pad innovation program.
Named after the accessories designer who died in 2015, the program is a four-year partnership underwritten by a $1.5 million donation to the CFDA Foundation. Gold had an extensive career in the accessories industry, working for Vera Scarves, The CFDA and Totes, where she collaborated with designers such as Kenzo and Ellen Tracy.
According to the CFDA’s website,“the program will strive to empower early emerging talent of all fashion specializations, strengthening creative entrepreneurial skills and innovative business acumen,” with special focus on technology, sustainability and innovation.
The program’s goal is to assist emerging designers in launching their careers in the apparel, accessories, jewelry or textiles and knitwear industries, making their creative visions viable business offerings. It welcomes designers that are starting out to designers that have been in business for three years.
The six designers participating are Alexis Isabel of Alexis Isabel (footwear), Emily Adams Bode of Bode (menswear), Lucy Junes of Ffora (accessories, innovation), Ali Rose, Jack Burns and Mark Richardson of Genusee (optical), LVMH prize finalist, Maria Kazakova of Jahnkoy (womenswear and menswear) and Jameel Mohammed of Khiry (jewelry).
These finalists will compete for up to five Elaine Gold Launch Pad Fellowships beginning in September of 2017. Competing in a number of challenges focused on their designs and business strategies as well mentorships from industry experts will culminate in awarding the winners micro-awards totaling $175,000 in February of 2018.
The jury that selected the finalists included Carly-Ann Fergus of XRC Labs, Brad Schmidt of Cadet, Colette Malouf, Greg Armas of Assembly New York, Jake Sargent of Soft Matter Ventures, John Jones of Fjord, Accenture, Karen Giberson of the Accessories Council, Keanan Duffty of Polimoda, Leila Larijani of the Elaine Gold and Accessories Council, Steven Kolb of CFDA, Lisa Smilor, of CFDA, Marshall Cheek, Tory Burch, Rebecca Minkoff and Sara Kozlowski of the CFDA.
“Elaine Gold is remembered as a designer and creative entrepreneur with a forward vision,” Kozlowski, director of education and professional development for the CFDA, said in a statement. “The CFDA and Accessories Council partnership celebrates her vibrant energy and lifetime commitment to education. As a virtual talent lab, Launch Pad will provide future talent with mentorship and awards.”