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Sergio Hudson and Nike discuss the importance of partnerships – WWD

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Partnerships are central to the success of black designers and designers in the fashion industry.

And if you ask the executives of Nike Inc., the path to success and a viable business is to support others and support others.

Melanie Auguste, who serves as vice president of global branding, goal and athlete brand marketing, and Josh Wachtel, general manager of LeBron James and athlete business development, discussed their approaches to collaboration and what makes a partnership effective at the recent Harlem Fashion Row. Mountain peak.

“It always starts with an insight or consumer issue, and we’re working with a collaborator to help us with that,” Wachtel said. “We are looking for why we are doing [the collaboration] and what problem we are solving … besides, especially where we are today, adding what we can learn today as an organization. [We could] go find someone who can help us do it, but we also ask who is already doing it and make them shine.

Nike collaborated with Fashion Row from Harlem on the LeBron 16 sneaker to commemorate the HFR Style Awards and the fashion show. Brandice Daniel, Founder and CEO of HFR, called on designers Fe Noel, Undra Celeste and Kimberly Goldson to partner on the sneaker, marking the first time a LeBron James sneaker has been designed by all female designers. Nike and James sponsored the event, another first for HFR at the time.

“I had hit my lowest level before that time,” Daniel said frankly of the partnership. She spoke about finding a partnership before Nike’s call, and voila, the sportswear giant was just in time to make Daniel’s wish come true.

Although Augustus was initially not sure whether the idea for the project was received, it turned out to be a successful collaboration. “After that first meeting it was just about doing it right and in each meeting we had even more confidence,” she said.

Beyond collaborations, sometimes it’s just about opportunities – like the ones offered to Sergio Hudson when Michelle Obama picked the designer’s look for inauguration day and Vice President Kamala Harris emerged in a Hudson evening look for the inaugural concert.

The Columbia, South Carolina native previously dressed Kendall Jenner for her 20th birthday, Jennifer Lopez in a leopard print dress for NBC’s World of Dress, and Michelle Obama twice in 2019 in Atlanta and at Essence Fest for her tour. support for his memoir, “Becoming. Harlem’s Fashion Row had even named Hudson among the recipients of its Icon 360 fund in 2020, which distributed grants totaling $ 1 million. But dressing the former first lady in a fan favorite look seen around the world is a whole different matter.

Hudson watched the grand opening in an airport lounge and said he heard audible gasps when Obama appeared onscreen. “I felt it in the atmosphere, it was immediate,” he said at the Harlem’s Fashion Row summit. His brand’s website crashed soon after and he deleted his website email account from his phone due to the influx of notifications.

“For a split second, I forgot I had done the outfit,” he joked. “The girl next to me said, ‘I have to see who did it’ and she looked without knowing that I was right next to her. I will never forget the moment. It marked a change in my career.

And when you dress the first woman, the first black woman, the first Asian American vice president of the United States, the momentum continues. “Being a father of black girls was a privilege and an honor,” he said. “I want to be part of the story.”

Hudson, however, didn’t always have the support he sees now. Once, in a meeting with a buyer at a Los Angeles boutique, the buyer said his clothes “should be more urban.”

“They expect me to design urban clothes because I am black,” he said. “Growing up loving fashion, I didn’t know there were blockages in the industry. You grow up loving fashion, and they love everyone, but they ignore the color issue. “

There is a disconnect between being a “great black man from the South” and the clothes he produces, he said. Buyers don’t expect him to be the designer, despite his ability to draw, drape, pattern, and sew.

“We are black designers, but we want to be designers,” he said. “We have to say it now, but the end goal should be that it’s just normal for a black designer to just be a designer. The best American designers in New York at the moment are Asian men: Alexander Wang, Prabal Gurung, Joseph Altuzzara. People don’t even think about it.



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