Six Black Americans have been chosen to take part in the emerging accelerator program this year offered by luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue.

Photo: John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

They are among eight designers forming The New Wave at Saks, a program created in 2021 to support the next generation of design and retail talent and develop high-potential independent brands by boosting their growth both at Saks and within the greater fashion industry.

The 2023 cohort class includes designers of women’s, men’s, and kids’ fashion, footwear, and jewelry. As Saks’ mission is to amplify diverse voices and elevate representation in fashion, at least half of the program participants annually are BIPOC brands.

“Saks is committed to amplifying emerging brands and it is incredibly important to us that we use our platform to elevate independent designer businesses and BIPOC voices,” said Anna Irving, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of women’s designer ready-to-wear at Saks, according to Women’s Wear Daily. “This program is a crucial part of our goal to increase representation in our merchandise assortment and to provide emerging designers with the resources to succeed at Saks and beyond. At the same time, the program supports our mission to offer unique and inspiring fashion to our customers.”

The Black brands in this year’s program are Armando Cabral, Áwet, Bernard James, ElisamamaJune79, and Renowned.

All participants will gain the skills to scale their businesses at Saks and beyond. Each brand is eligible to win a $10,000 grant to support its business operations and growth. The designers also will receive marketing support from Saks, including content exposure on the luxury retailer’s website.

Saks’ six-month program for its Next Wavers consists of a retail boot camp, mentorship and consulting services, entrepreneurial workshops, and industry roundtables.

Mastercard is the sponsor of The New Wave at Saks for the third straight year. It was reported the company will host a roundtable session to provide participating brands an overview and access to its Digital Doors program. That effort will include exclusive resources and tools aimed to help small businesses grow and to digitally enhance their online presence.

The Black designers and their brands in this year’s New Wave at Saks program are:

Awet Woldegebriel, Awet

Bernard James

Fisayo Che, Elisamama

Armando Cabral

John Dean, Renowned
   Shawn Pean, June 79


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