Harlem’s Fashion Row, Tiffany & Co. bring N.C. A&T students “transformative” experience through year-long series

By Lydian Bernhardt / 08/30/2022 College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Family and Consumer Sciences

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s fashion merchandising and design program has launched a historic year-long relationship with industry leader Harlem’s Fashion Row which includes engagement with luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co.

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Aug. 30, 2022) – Fourth-year students in North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s fashion merchandising and design program will get the professional advice and build the connections they need to succeed in the luxury fashion world through a historic year-long collaboration between the program, fashion agency Harlem’s Fashion Row and luxury-goods conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy.

For 10 weeks, key industry experts from HFR and luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co, part of the French conglomerate, will Zoom into the fashion class taught by Devona Dixon, Ph.D., to share practical knowledge and experiences on topics such as jewelry design, branding and innovation in a 10-week-long lecture series called “Tenacity Talks.”

The partnership marks a groundbreaking commitment from LVMH to support of HFR's mission of discovering, mentoring and showcasing the emerging talent of color through multiplatform, high-visibility events and pipeline-building programs.

The fashion merchandising and design program, in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, was one of just three historically Black college and university programs nationwide selected to participate in the series, said Brandice Daniel, CEO of Harlem’s Fashion Row, in the first lecture of the series.

FMD students in Zoom with Brandice Daniel“The goal of this program is to prepare all of you to come into this industry when you graduate from college, which you will be able to do because you will have gotten the connections and knowledge that you need, you will have heard what it takes and you’ll understand,” said Daniel.

As part of the program, some students will travel to New York City’s fashion district this fall to experience luxury first-hand with a tour of Tiffany & Co.’s flagship store and headquarters. The group of 16 students and three program faculty members will engage with Tiffany & Co. executives and participate in several seminars hosted by Tiffany’s. The relationship will continue in the spring, Dixon said.

“Many HBCU students have never been to New York or the other fashion capitals of the world, and do not have the familiarity with luxury brands that it takes to be successful,” Dixon said. “This is a transformative opportunity for our students.”

The lecture series marks another step in the relationship between N.C. A&T’s fashion program and Harlem’s Fashion Row. In June 2021, the program received a $100,000 award from clothier The Gap and the agency’s nonprofit arm Icon 360 as part of their “Closing the Gap” initiative, begun in 2020 to support designers of color.

During the Aug. 24 class, moderated by senior Jacole Davis-Evans, Daniel discussed her entry into the fashion industry and what she called “cliff jumping,” or taking necessary risks to achieve success.

FMD students in class“It was a dream of mine to move to New York and work in the fashion industry,” Daniel said. “When I moved to New York from Memphis, Tennessee, that was risky. That was a cliff jump. So what did I do to prepare myself? I started coming to New York every year so I could get comfortable with it. Starting a company from scratch? Another cliff jump. I am making cliff jumps every week, to be honest with you.”

Daniel also discussed how the industry has changed since she started Harlem’s Fashion Row in 2007.

“One of the conversations that was really difficult to have (then) was race,” she said. “Brands didn’t want to talk about it, the industry didn’t want to talk about it … then, things started to shift a little bit around 2018. There were a lot of articles that were coming out, there were a lot of conversations about race.”

This growing discussion, coupled with the 2020 murder of George Floyd, was the beginning of a huge shift by retail, fashion and specialty luxury brands to not only build more inclusive staff, but also to train underrepresented fashion students to work in the industry, Daniel said.

“This is where you all come in,” she said. “This is an industry that is ripe for change. And it needs to change.”

Junior Mya Harris called the first session “inspiring.”

“I feel that this class is going to be very beneficial for us as HBCU students to hear the stories and get the advice from very powerful people in the industry,” Harris said. “Brandice left us with great quotes to keep us motivated.”

Dixon offered her gratitude to Daniel, HFR, Tiffany & Co. and the incoming guests.

“Thank you very much, Brandice, Harlem’s Fashion Row, and everyone we’ve worked with over the summer,” said Dixon. “We will definitely take advantage of every opportunity so we can see all of these wonderful faces in New York at some point, in HFR or in some capacity at retailers, agencies and everywhere.”

Media Contact Information: llbernhardt@ncat.edu

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