Footaction Supports Emerging Designers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities

FootAction, HBCU -

Footaction Supports Emerging Designers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities

The No 1 Way Design Competition is an initiative by Footaction to provide young designers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities with the resources to learn not only footwear and apparel design, but also how to thrive in a competitive industry. In partnership with PENSOLE and the Functional Apparel And Accessories Studio (FAAS), the competition’s finalists gained hands-on experience in developing and presenting a collection. FAAS founder, Angela Medlin's former design lead at Levi Strauss & CoThe North FaceEddie Bauer and Nike served as the lead instructor during the competition.

The competition began in the fall of 2019 with over 150 applicants from more than 85 HBCUs submitting their original designs for consideration. From that group, 10 winners went on to work online with Medlin to refine their concepts. The top five were flown out to FAAS in Portland for a three-week crash course with Medlin on real-life practices, such as how to incorporate sustainability into their designs, how to work in teams and overall professional development, skills they wouldn’t get in a traditional design school. “Acting as that bridge between traditional design school and corporate, we gave them all of what they would need to start in the industry successfully,” Medlin told HYPEBEAST.

On Tuesday, the five finalists, Le’Nora Gray, Nachae Davis, and Sharonda Richardson, all from Clark Atlanta University, as well as Brianna Thomas of Dillard University and Chakierrah Stinson of Tuskegee University, presented their collections for review during New York Fashion Week. Their collections featured functional, sustainably-made athleisure with multi-functional elements such as invisible inner kangaroo pockets, adjustable drawcords, gusseted hoods for hair protection, body control functionality, and a protective coating. Industry insider and HBCU grad Kahlana Barfield Brown served as the judge and announced the winners.

We spoke to the finalists, including the top three prize winners made up of Brianna Thomas, who won the third-place prize of $5,000 USD, second-place winner Chakierrah Stinson, who took home $10,000 USD, and the first-prize winner Nachae Davis, who earned $15,000 USD and will see her designs featured in select Footaction stores and online at beginning Fall 2020. The aspiring designers shared their experience in the competition, what they’ve learned and where they hope to go from here.

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