We all know that the fashion industry is a cutthroat business and that it takes not only talent, but persistence, drive and connections to get you in the door. As a person of color it is even more difficult, with diversity still being a large issue in the field.

Harlem’s Fashion Row is an organization working to bring the talents of African-American designers to the forefront. It was started in 2007 by Brandice Henderson with the aim to foster fresh young talent and make their lines visible to top editors and buyers. This goal is being reached by staging a contest in which three finalists get the chance to show their collections on September 16th during New York Fashion Week. They will all also have a large marketing push behind them as well as a network of fashion heavyweights in their corners, all for free.

“A lot of young designers aren’t able to fund a presentation which would introduce them to buyers and editors so Harlem’s Fashion Row has become about giving them a platform they might not have otherwise, ” says Henderson. The six finalists are: design duo Bobby West and Day Williams, Harlem native Imani Whyte, menswear designer Joseph Bethune and womenswear designers Kellia Rogers (shown above), Onyenauchea Nwabuzor and Jakia Handy. All extremely talented designers with distinctive voices who are sure to take the industry by storm.

Visit www.harlemsfashionrow.com for more information on the six finalists and to vote on your favorite three by May 30th.

What do you think of the idea behind Harlem’s Fashion Row? Which designers would you like to see make it to Fashion Week?

-Faith Cummings

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