According to research by the Design Council, only 12% of design managers and sector business owners are from a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) background. In response to the Design Economy report, an online fashion manufacturing marketplace is offering a budding BAME fashion designer a £2,000 scholarship, together with free manufacturing of their design.
The truth is that fashion is really lacking in diversity, and this needs to change. Boris Hodakel
Sewport, the company behind the fund, connects small- to medium-sized fashion brands with clothing manufacturers. It found that just 14% of the designers using its platform are from a BAME background. Founder, Boris Hodakel, said: “Hundreds of designers use our platform every day, and the lack of individuals from a BAME background is shocking. Once I investigated this further, I was inspired to help people from minority backgrounds to start a career in fashion, by giving them a head start.”
Hodakel’s concerns echo a 2018 report by Create London. Conducted by academics at the universities of Edinburgh and Sheffield – and including product and graphic design, as well as fashion – Panic! Social Class, Taste and Inequalities in the Creative Industries concluded that BAME workers comprised just 7% of the sector. It noted that women and people from low-income backgrounds also faced difficulties in accessing design jobs.
“People think fashion is an impossible industry to get into because of how competitive it is,” added Hodakel. “But the truth is that fashion is really lacking in diversity, and this needs to change. We hope lots of budding fashion designers sign up and put forward their designs; I genuinely can’t wait to see them.”
To apply for the Sewport scholarship, eligible students – those either studying an undergraduate degree or are about to start in the 2019 academic year – must submit their design by either scanning the sketch or uploading a photograph. They will also be required to submit a 700 word cover letter outlining why they should win the scholarship, and how they plan to use the money.
Applications open on March 8 and close on April 8. An independent panel of fashion experts will judge the entries, with the winner announced on the May 1. Click here for further info.