Aerie and American Eagle were beyond proud to be title sponsors for this year’s Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR) 3rd Annual Digital Summit, which was held virtually on screens across the fashion world on February 18. To capture the event’s theme “Moving Beyond the Black Box, A New Conversation About Race,” HFR founder Brandice Daniel tapped leading voices in fashion to take part in insightful panels.
Topics such as fashion and social justice, support for HBCUs, CFDA impact and more were covered, including a segment with AEO’s Terry Roberts, VP Employment Law and Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer. Throughout each panel, guests helped shed light on what’s happening — and what can happen — to create a more inclusive industry.
We caught up with Brandice to learn more about the powerhouse woman behind HFR and to see how she’s embodying the Women’s History Month theme: #ChoosetoChallenge. Read on to learn more about her journey and her advice for others breaking the mold!
What inspired you to start Harlem’s Fashion Row, and what key ways has the platform evolved since its inception over ten years ago?
HFR started as an idea to produce a fashion show in Harlem featuring several fabulous high-end boutiques popping up in Harlem in 2007 owned by Black designers. The goal was always to highlight incredible designers of color, but one of the takeaways I didn’t expect was that we’d build this amazing community that I call the Black Fashion Family Reunion.
What has the overall experience been like garnering support from major brands/companies to help in HFR’s mission of supporting underrepresented Black and Latinx designers?
When I started HFR, no one wanted to discuss race. It was a taboo topic. Over the past five years, it’s been amazing to see the evolution of brands and the fashion industry as a whole. The opportunity to create a bridge for Black and Latinx designers and retailers have produced results that have surpassed anything I could have dreamt such as top-selling collections and billions of press impressions.
What skills have you developed as you’ve led HFR that have helped you maintain success?
I always knew I’d be an entrepreneur, but I had no idea what entrepreneurship would require from me. Over the past 14 years, I’ve learned that consistency, persistence, creativity and excellent work ethic are vital to maintaining success.
What do you wish companies would do more of now to transform the industry? Or, do you feel this is already happening and how so?
My goal is for all companies to audit their leadership to seize the opportunity to create a more racially equitable leadership team. I believe that who you have in leadership will impact all other roles at companies.
What advice do you have for other women leaders who might be wanting to start their venture and make change?
Women are so powerful, but together we are unstoppable. Find women that are 3 steps ahead of you in starting a venture or making a change. Surround yourself with these women so that they can mentor, support, and challenge you.
This Women’s Month theme is #ChoosetoChallenge. What ways would you say you’re embodying this mantra this month and beyond?
More than anything or anyone, I’m challenging myself. I realize that I sometimes stop or halt my progress by having limiting beliefs. I’ve been challenging my beliefs by moving forward on ideas that seem impossible and saying, “Let’s just see what happens.”
Brandice is such a force in the industry, and we thank her for it. What did you think of her journey, Aerie fam? Let us know in the comments!