Getting noticed in the fashion world can seem like an insurmountable task for so many, being such a “who you know” industry with an endless list of hurdles and barriers to entry for anyone to get involved. This is heightened by a disproportionate misrepresentation of all ethnicities – enter Reference Incubator.
The prize – arriving as a partnership between Reference Studios and Slam Jam – comes as a pedestal for those who are underrepresented, and devoid of formal training. A committee made up of a star studded (and diverse!) list has been announced: Hans Ulrich Obrist, Kenneth Ize, Soo Joo Park, Ferdinando Verderi, the GmbH boys, Simon Whitehouse, Edward Buchanan, Honey Dijon, Supreme’s Zainab Jama and Reference’s Mumi Haiati.
Talking on the prize and how it aims to tackle the representation issues facing the industry right now, Reference Studios founder Mumi Haiali says: “Being a child of a migrant family myself, I experience underrepresentation and its effects every day, with the fashion industry making no exception. The struggle of last year has proven the importance of building support systems. The pandemic was a bit of a reminder, or question, of what we actually need and how much of it. It’s time to reconsider our standards and explore a new level of quality and values.”
The committee are looking for designers pushing the envelope, creating unique garments channelling inspiration from their communities. The winner of the prize will receive mentorship and support from Slam Jam, a pro-bono PR retainer and consultation services from Reference Studios. This is less of a prize, and more of an “Incubator” for those facing the daunting fashion world from the outside in.
Applications are open until July 31 through the award’s dedicated site, and the winner will be announced at the Reference Festival in Berlin on September 9.
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