Fashion awards and competitions–CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, Fortune’s 40 under 40, GQ Fashion Awards, LVMH Prize, and even Project Runway–are the makeup of an industry known to motivate competition between up-and-coming talent. Finalists receive grants to invest in their collections, mentorship from top industry talent, and visibility for their achievements. Most of the independent designers we know and love–Luar, Telfar, Head of State, Bode, Black Boy Knits–have participated in (and won) awards with an opportunity to establish their labels. But, as in the foundation of the fashion industry, most competitions are not designed with specific access to Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) with a culture that remains a source of appropriation by fashion’s biggest houses, all while racism, tokenism, and discrimination provide unequal barriers behind-the-scenes.
This is why a call to all BIPOC designers to participate in Tommy Hilfiger’s design competition – New Legacy Challenge 2.0 – is the classic label’s effort to offer mentorship, visibility, and compensation to those who feel less represented in the industry. The People’s Place Program, founded by Tommy Hilfiger to advance the representation of BIPOC in the fashion and creative industries, in partnership with Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR) launched the New Legacy Challenge in 2021. The challenge is an intention to highlight the history and contributions of Black communities to the fashion industry and celebrate the voices of a new generation of Black designers.
“The New Legacy Challenge is rooted in a shared commitment to champion diverse talent and spotlight a historically underrepresented community,” said Principal Designer, Tommy Hilfiger. “Watching the first season was encouraging and inspiring – Clarence, Megan, and Johnathan’s ideas, voices, and designs are truly what fashion is about. Launching this next season marks another meaningful milestone as we look to the next generation by amplifying their voices and creative talent.”
In the 8-month program, finalists are invited to recreate six American prep designs in the challenge’s final round to present to a panel of judges. Out of the top 12 applicants, last season’s finalists, Megan Smith, Johnathan Hayden, and winner, Clarence Ruth received guidance from a Tommy Hilfiger mentor throughout the design process. The winner received a $20,000 grant and the opportunity to co-design a capsule collection with the Tommy Hilfiger team to champion new Black voices within the label in season 1.
For the New Legacy Challenge 2.0, the reward will reach a higher stake. Each finalist will be compensated $25,000 with $15,000 in production assistance to help fund their talents as emerging designers, while the winner will be rewarded with an additional $25,000 grant. Tommy Hilfiger’s responsibility to create an opportunity for all is not limited to a competition between designers–but we can not wait to see who’s next up.
The link to apply is here.