Get ready, New York Fashion Week, because here come Detroit’s finest Boys & Girls Club teens, “The Top,” “Elegance,” “Skullxer,” “Display-er” and “Arman.” Through an intense fashion mentorship program curated by Tori Nichel, founder and CEO of Maison Black, Isaiah Hemingway, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, these five were able to design, create and display their designs during one of the biggest fashion shows in the world, NYFW.
“When I started this program I asked the kids what they wanted to get out of the program; they answered ‘I want to build, scale and monetize my brand.’ I said, ‘Oh, ok,'” remembers Nichel. “I thought they were going to say they wanted to do some sketching or make a few pieces that they’ve created, but these kids are entrepreneurs already. So we focused on bringing their entire vision of their companies and their designs to the full light. We talked to them about brand awareness and how they see themselves in the marketplace.”
Through a special program called Industry Clubs, teen members are empowered to get workforce experience in industries like fashion, risk management, urban planning, sports, technology, e-sports and entertainment.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan partnered with Nichel to pair five young African American fashion entrepreneurs with five accomplished designers. Each mentee was paired with another successful black designer who was able to spend time with each student in their hometown of Detroit. Mentors in the program included Shawn P of June79NYC, Brandon Frame, Marcus Alexander, Omar Jermaine, Brandon M Frame of TheBlackManCan and Dyuna Morgan.
In partnership with Big Sean’s DON weekend in August, male fashion designers were able to see the brilliance of these Detroit student designers and offer tips, tricks and mentorship.
“When you think of our community it’s about collective impact. We gotta do this together. I can’t do it alone, so when you think of the partnership we have, that’s about making a collective impact to pool your resources together to be able to give back to your community,” says Nichel. “I believe that Shawn H. Wilson (President & CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan) is an innovator because he dreams big, bigger than ever. I thought I dreamed big but it’s amazing what he wants for these kids and we shouldn’t want anything less than these infinite possibilities.”
Together mentors and designers will unveil their looks Feb. 7 during New York Fashion Week.
As an online retailer, Maison Black is a destination for discovery for Black designers. Maison Black creates immersive shopping experiences through pop-up activations across the country. Maison Black bridges community and commerce, fosters unity and creates space for Black creatives to build legacies and Black heritage brands. Maison Black’s mission is to create access, longevity and sustainability for Black designers in the fashion industry, in addition to increasing the visibility of Black-designed products. Black culture has always set trends and defined style. Maison Black’s curated capsule experiences allow the purveyors of design and style to be recognized across the globe. As a global retail destination Maison Black amplifies the innovative design of Black creatives who exemplify design excellence.