Metallic Fund launches fashion design program


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Last year, following the global Black Lives Matter protests, Grace Ladoja and Alex Sossah – co-founders of London-based creative agency Metallic – began to think about how they could best make changes in their lives. own industry.

Ladoja and Sossah are both black and have long been aware of the barriers preventing people of color from obtaining meaningful fashion and design roles. Specifically, they had seen how difficult it can be to break into industries that depend so much on knowing the “right” people to do the introductions, and where jobs are often offered to friends even before they are introduced. they are not publicly listed.

“I have met my peers through multiple jobs,” says Sossah, who previously worked as a club promoter, stylist, creative director and on special projects for Nike. “We didn’t have those family ties, or the support networks that might come automatically when you come from a more privileged background. So I guess automatically we had to create our own support system and our own network.

“The most important thing we can give them is access”

It does mean, however, that they and other POC creatives have often been overlooked by their peers and denied opportunities in favor of their white colleagues. “It was the elephant in the room,” Sossah said. “But I don’t think anyone took him seriously.”

The couple decided to bypass traditional avenues to high profile jobs and focus on creating their own avenues. To that end, last July the couple launched the Metallic Fund, a fundraising and mentoring program for black and POC creatives. They distributed £ 150,000 (approximately USD 200,000) in grants to various emerging figures in the fashion, music and film industries, and matched them with mentors who offered one-on-one advice.

Grace Ladoja and Alex Sossah.

This year, they are more ambitious. Today marks the launch of the Fashion Design Program, a landmark educational project for London-based black and POC designers. Six successful candidates will receive an intensive eight-week design course that will provide a crash course in most areas of the contemporary fashion industry: from design and branding to public relations and sales. The course, Sossah points out, will be completely free for the winning candidates.

Most importantly, the classes will be led and led by a handpicked committee of big names in the fashion and streetwear world. This includes Errolson Hugh of ACRONYM, Charaf Tajer of Casablanca, Yoon Ambush, Martine Rose and world famous stylists Carlos Nazario and Ib Kamara.

They’ll be seated alongside shadowy (but equally important) figures like Lucien Pages, whose Paris-based PR agency represents clients like sacai and Jacquemus, and Fraser Cooke, senior director at Nike – who, incidentally, gave Sossah one of his first big career breaks. “It’s our network, our family,” says Sossah. “Almost everyone we asked said yes. ”

The sportswear retailer Walk-in locker also supported the initiative. He will also act as a reseller for selected designs created by students during the program. “The most important thing we can give them is access,” says Sossah. “We wanted to give them a boost on their journey. ”

Sossah sees this more structured program as an evolution of the mentors Metallic gathered last year. He and Ladoja are also hopeful that it could eventually be extended to other industries – music, for example, is a sphere they want to enter.

Most importantly, they hope the initiative will correct the perceived impenetrability of the fashion industry for so many young people. “A lot of people started saying ‘we have to sit at the table’ last year,” Sossah said.

“But we want to get you to a place where you don’t have to fight for your seat.”

The Metallic Fund’s Fashion Design Program is open to black and POC designers between the ages of 18 and 30 and will take place in London. Applications are open now; For more information, visit their website.

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Joseph E. Golightly