VF and The VF Foundation Invest in Youth to Build Diverse Pipeline of Talent In the Fashion Industry
At VF, we believe diverse representation in creative roles provides the opportunity to draw from unique perspectives and insights, resulting in more relevant products. The retail and fashion design industries, however, are lacking in diversity. Through the work of our brands, the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Action (IDEA) team and The VF Foundation, we’re partnering with organizations to build purposeful solutions that create a pipeline of diverse talent in the industry.
Timberland®, together with CNSTNT DVLPMNT, is helping to empower the next generation of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) designers. Founded by Timberland footwear designer, Christopher Dixon, CNSTNT:DVLPMNT challenges BIPOC students to not only think of themselves as consumers, but also as creatives. By fusing comic art with a fun design curriculum, their interactive Creative Discovery Tools help students learn basic footwear vocabulary, practice sketching exercises and improve efficiency. Timberland recently wrapped up this year’s program with elementary school kids in New York.
Based in Amsterdam, Project Fearless is a space for girls and non-binary youth to get hands-on experience, break stereotypes, find their voice and create an impact. The organization focuses on ages 9-14 – the transformational years when girls feel pressure from social standards, leading to loss of confidence and resilience. Courses at Project Fearless are designed to help participants practice new skills in a broad variety of areas such as film and journalism, entrepreneurship, skating and skateboard design, running, kickboxing and more. New passions and friendships flourish under the mentorship of strong female role models who are all pursuing their own definition of success.
In March 2022, Project Fearless took over the Vans® store in Rotterdam to design shoes with a “Use Your Voice” theme. By using shoes as their canvas, they helped spread their fearless messages to other girls and women.
Creatives Want Change (CWC) is dedicated to the cultivation of Black creative talent beginning at the high school level and continuing into early professional development. CWC helps Black youth find pre-college educational opportunities in fashion including internships, apprenticeships and mentors in the industry. Participants can also receive college scholarships to alleviate post-graduation debt.
The VF Foundation contributed funding to Creatives Want Change in 2021, helping 25 BIPOC students prepare for a career in the fashion industry. Twenty-five more students are expected to participate in 2022. VF also participated in CWC’s mentorship program. Eunice Lee, Sportswear Design Director at The North Face®, mentored CWC Fellow Dayne Thompson through the highly competitive application process. Dayne was recently accepted into New York’s prestigious Parsons School of Design.
The Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) works directly with the country’s most talented young students from diverse backgrounds, awarding over $1 million each year in scholarships. They also provide scholars with a wide range of internship and career opportunities, mentoring, networking, professional development and unprecedented access to the industry’s most influential leaders and companies.
The VF Foundation and Kipling® partnered with FSF to create a summer program for community college students to visit their New York City office to learn more about the fashion/retail industry. Two students, Marlene and Lauren, were selected for an all-expenses-paid pilot program where they spent nearly three days job shadowing, learning about product lifecycles and building relationships. Dickies® also recently hosted an FSF intern over the summer.
At VF, we want our products to reflect our communities, and that includes the voices and experiences within them. We know there is strength in our diversity and power in our collective.