Footaction has made a big step towards inclusion in the design world. The footwear lifestyle brand has partnered with PENSOLE, a design academy partner of Foot Locker, Inc. to launch the No 1 Way Design program.The program is an unprecedented opportunity for designers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). If their submitted design is chosen for the competition, participants have the chance to win cash prizes and even have their designs in Footaction stores nationwide.
The No 1 Way program is part of Footaction’s long-standing commitment of uplifting HBCUs and introducing more visionairies to the industry. To be even more inclusive, the program is open to both current students and recent graduates of HBCUs. The looks of youth culture are constantly evolving, and these talented yet underrepresented designers can definitely bring in something fresh. And with over 85 HBCUs across the country, the competition will be fierce.
“Footaction’s No 1 Way Design Program will create opportunity and bring talents from untapped communities to the forefront,” said Richard McLeod, Vice President of Marketing for Footaction. “We are thrilled to be working with PENSOLE Academy as we work to create opportunities for students at HBCUs, share their stories and cultivate their entrepreneurship. This program represents our long-term commitment to nurturing the next generation of talent, while offering them opportunities in design.”
PENSOLE founder D’Wayne Edwards and his accomplished roster of academy instructors will lead the competition, providing mentorship and guidance to the students throughout the process. Five finalists will be selected for a three-week PENSOLE Master Class that will support these rising stars and help bring their creative ideas to life as market-ready, apparel-focused capsule collections.
“The No 1 Way Design Program underscores the need to grow and foster diversity and creativity in our industry,” said Edwards. “We have chosen to work with HBCU students in order to celebrate the creative energy of this community and develop a platform to foster and express their individuality.”
The Master Class will have the chance to showcase its designs during New York Fashion Week in February, with cash prizes going to the top three finalists. A final winner will be selected by a panel of esteemed judges and the winning No 1 Way collection will be produced and sold in Footaction stores nationwide.