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CFDA partners with Genesis for second annual AAPI design + innovation grant

By Vivian Hendriksz


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The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) is partnering with automotive brand Genesis once more to launch a mentorship program that will support innovation and design within the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

Building on the success of the first-of-its-kind challenge introduced in 2023, the program's second iteration continues the inaugural mission and invites emerging fashion designers to compete for funding and support. Participating designers are challenged to create collections that celebrate the blend of contemporary design and their Asian heritage.

The CFDA | Genesis House AAPI Design + Innovation Grant will provide three selected emerging fashion designers with 40,000 USD in funding from Genesis to support their research and design development throughout the challenge. The financial support also includes an immersive trip to Seoul, South Korea, to inspire their collections.  

In addition to offering funding, the program also provides emerging fashion designers with the chance to gain essential education and mentorship from industry experts to bring their creative ideas to fruition. Aspiring designers who apply to the challenge will be selected by a newly formed committee of advisors and mentors, which includes the likes of Wen Zhou (Co-Founder, 3.1 Phillip Lim), Jodie Chan (VP of Global Marketing & Communications, Carolina Herrera) and Steven Kolb (CEO, CFDA).

"We're thrilled to collaborate once again with the CFDA on this incredible initiative where we have the opportunity to highlight the innovative spirit of the AAPI community in fashion design," said Rachel Espersen, Executive Director of Brand Experience at Genesis House and Studios, Genesis Motor America. "As we continue to champion design, heritage, and technology at Genesis House, we're eager to help facilitate the remarkable creativity that is sure to emerge from this year's applicants."

The challenge is set to accumulate in a showcase of the final collections of the three emerging designers, which will be displayed at Genesis House in February 2025. An advisory board consisting of industry experts and CFDA members will evaluate the designs. The winning designer will receive an additional 60,000 USD to expand their business further, bringing the total grant award to 100,000 USD.

"The CFDA | Genesis House AAPI Design + Innovation Grant helps us highlight emerging AAPI talent, significantly impacting American fashion and our efforts to build greater diversity in the industry," said Steven Kolb, CEO of the CFDA, in a statement. "We are excited to start the second edition of the program and help creatives build their ideas." 

In February 2024, Grace Ling was named the inaugural CFDA | Genesis House AAPI Design + Innovation Grant winner. She presented her final collection at Genesis House, featuring three custom looks that fused Asian heritage with modern elements, including references to Asian folktales and an innovative 3D printing technique.

Applications for the second annual CFDA | Genesis House AAPI Design + Innovation Grant open June 12.

Emerging Designers